3 Ways to Help, Elevate, and Empower Your Female Colleagues
It’s no secret that being a woman in business can be tough. The weight of comparison, judgment and envy starts young (and as a mother of an eight-year-old daughter, I would testify that it seems to start at an even earlier age every year!).
On the other hand, there is also something so wonderfully beautiful and empowering about being a woman. Even alone we are pretty fantastic, but bring us together and we can blaze a trail like no one before us.
I feel fortunate: my 25+ professional years have been filled with incredible people who have supported and encouraged me along the way. With that in mind, I am intentionally aiming to pay it forward to my own team members. The things that my staff and I get done wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration and support that we give each other day in and day out.
As far as the female component of that: I work with some of the most intelligent and dedicated women I know, and support is fostered through the trust we have in, and the empowerment we give to, one another. In fact, I have a saying with my team at: “Further, faster.” But note that you can’t do that alone; rather, there’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
As the Global Head of Global Social Media Center of Expertise at my organization, building relationships has become a way of life and a personal passion. So following are three key things we women can all start doing today in order to build better relationships among each other, and support our fellow females in the workplace.
Don’t be Threatened
It’s a natural human tendency to compare oneself to another. So it may take more discipline and self-assuredness to take a step back and stop tearing each other apart. Recent studies are showing us that as more and more women enter the workforce, they’re competing not for men’s jobs, but against each other.
In any career path, there are tough times, and lessons to be learned from those tough times, especially in the realm of competition:
- First, it’s critical to shine a light on others’ success, as well as to self-promote. While I’ve witnessed others get credit for something that I worked hard for, we have to make a conscious choice on how to react in that moment.
- And, in general, congratulate them, and do everything you can to support them in being successful.
- Do not be threatened by another woman’s success; rather, encourage their accomplishments and help them along the way.
The bottom line: being successful at work is not mutually exclusive with your female coworkers’ success, too.
Surround Yourself with Strong Women
Mom knew best when she said, “You are the company you keep.” So seek out strong, positive women and then invite them into your life. Carve out some dedicated one-on-one time together, and — this is the important part — learn everything you can from them.
Take advantage of the resources and experiences of the strong women in leadership around the office. Do not be intimidated, but instead surround yourself with people smarter than you are. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first, but it’s the times when we welcome a challenge that we surprise ourselves most. And you can be sure that those smart women in the room will take notice.
Take Time to Mentor, Coach and Counsel
The National Mentoring Partnership shows that young adults who have a mentor are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. 130 percent! Imagine the army of equipped, confident women out there ready to make a lasting impact on the world.
The best part is that it’s a symbiotic relationship. A recent study found that individuals who served as mentors within their workplace have greater job satisfaction, higher quality relationships, and perceived greater career success. So get plugged into the mentor program at your office, or if one doesn’t exist, start one. Take the new female intern out to coffee and make sure to listen as their insights keep your view fresh and current.
Lastly, never stop seeking knowledge, be a good listener, and always look to blaze a better trail. Remember, no one can do it alone. True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. And wouldn’t it be great if they were female leaders going further, faster?11