10 Lessons for you really Lean In* in 2017
*Lean in means to be assertive, to move toward a leading rather than a following role
1- Sit at the table
‘I’m a fraud! Oh god, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’
I have a feeling that someday people will discover that I’m not good enough at work. During my job rotation to become a Product Manager I couldn’t believe the day they told me that I got in!
And what does it have to do with sitting at the table?
Sit at the table means that you worthy to sit with others at the table. Imagine a simple situation: you’ve launched a new product and somebody tells you that the product is a success and that you have made an excellent job! What is your reaction?
A. You thank the person and feel confident inside about your good work
B. You thank the person and say something like: “Oh, no… that is not that good… but, thanks. People helped me a lot… “ or something like “Oh, I had luck”. You feel that you don’t deserve that compliment.
You need to stop thinking that you don’t deserve things, that you are not good enough and that you are where you are because of the others. Put value on yourself.
“If I don’t believe that I am good enough, who will believe it?”
2- You don’t need to be loved by everyone
You can’t go further if you are worried about what all the people are thinking about you, your job, your career, your family decisions, your whole life.
Success x Likeability
There is a very famous case study that ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace. The case described how somebody (Heidi as a woman and Howard as a man) became a successful venture capitalist.
The study shows that students respected both Heidi and Howard, however, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague and Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.”
Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.
That is why woman who are ambitious and not worried about pleasing everyone is seen as arrogant, too agressive, not a team player, a bit political or difficult to work with.
If you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress.
3- Work Hard
“The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
We often believe that a good job performance will naturally lead to rewards. It is the “Tiara Syndrome”. We expect that if we are doing a good job someone will notice and place a tiara in our heads. It is a perfect meritocracy for the ones who really deserve. The results need to be recognized by others, right?
Girl (or Boy), do not wait for magic things to happen in your career. You are probably doing a really good job. But nobody will put a tiara if you just sit and wait for it.
Take risks, choose growth, challenge yourself, and ask for promotions(with a smile on your face, of course).
And. Do not wait for power to be offered.
4- Don’t ask for people to be your mentor
The issue here is not whether mentorship is important. It really is. But the problem is asking to a stranger “will you be my mentor?”. A mentoring is a relationship and like any relationship you cannot start being mentored by someone who you don’t even know.
People invest in those who stand ou their talent or who can really benefit from help and mentors continue to invest when mentees use their time well and are truly open to feedback.
Instead of thinking “Get a mentor and you will excel”, the right message is: “Excel and you will get a mentor.”
5- Seek for your truth
Howard Schultz was CEO of Starbucks from 1987 to 2000 and when he returned in 2008, he held a meeting with all of the company’s global managers where he openly admitted that the company was in serious trouble.
Then, as he was tearing up he confessed that he felt that he had let down his employees and their families. The entire company rose to the challenge.
I remember the first time I started crying during a Skype call with a customer. He treated me poorly cause I was a “woman and he preferred a man instead”. I was so embarassed!
As Sheryl Sandberg wrote: “maybe someday shedding tears in the workplace will no longer be viewed as embarrassing or weak, but as a simple display of authentic emotion. And maybe the compassion and sensitivity that have historically held some women back will make them more natural leaders in the future.”
I truly believe that.
6- Don’t leave before you leave
This week I was talking to my aunt about my life and she told me to think about having a baby. I just got 25 years old this month and she told me “if you want to have a baby in the future, you need to start thinking about it”.
So what don't leave before you leave means?
It means: do not leave your job before you actually need to leave it
Hold your breath and if you are willing to have a baby or planning it, keep your foot on the gas pedal until your decision must be made. Do not slow down.
Anyone lucky enough to have options should keep them open. Don’t enter the workforce already looking for the exit. Only a compelling, challenging, and rewarding job will begin to make that choice a fair contest.
So, accelerate and give your best, girl!
7- Make your partner a real partner
When a husband and wife both are employed full-time, the mother does 40% more child care and about 30% more housework than the
father. Both women and men have things to work on.
Maybe your partner will not prepare the best pasta now. But you need to let him try. We need help and we need to accept that help.
If you are women do not worry too much about letting your partner help in things that you are great on. And if you are a man, be a real partner by supporting your wife’s career and spending more time with your children at home.
We need to encourage a more balanced relationship and 50/50 partners.
8- You don’t need to be perfect and good on everything!
Instead of perfection, we should aim for sustainable and fulfilling. The right question is not “Can I do it all?” but…“Can I do what’s most important for me and my family?”
Success is making the best choices we can … and accepting them.
9- Work together for equality
Marissa Mayer is a strong woman that I admire and the Yahoo’s CEO. She was the first pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 Company and feminists loved her. But after her speech about her short-time maternity: “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it” feminists stopped cheering.
Why? Because taking such a short leave is not feasible or desirable for everyone and they argued that she was hurting the cause by setting these kind of expectations.
But, they forgot that this short-time maternity was possible and desirable because:
1- She really wanted to work
2- She has a husband who could actually take care of the child
Women deserve everyone’s full support if they want to take two weeks off, or two days off or twenty years off. Women need to stop hurting other women.
“(…) feminism wasn’t supposed to make us feel guilty. It was supposed to make us free — to give us not only choices but the ability to make these choices without constantly feeling that we’d somehow gotten it wrong.” Barnard President Debora Spar, 2012
10- Do what you would do if you were not afraid of
That is the question I’ve been asking myself everytime I feel insecure or with a decision to make. Would you do it if you were not afraid? It is not magic, but it helps me racionalize if I really want to do something or not and how much fear influences my decisions.
Move yourself 😉
You can start leaning in by:
– Stop accepting sexist attitudes
– Giving feedback when you feel uncomfortable or disrespected
– Start talking about your experiences: you can find a Lean In Circle near where you live
– Joining the discussion (and get some good network) about your career at Women Techmakers Slack channel
There is no magic and much work need to be done
“I hope that you — yes, you — have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it.” Sheryl Sandberg
Please let me know your thoughts and experiences on the comments ❤