PowHer Play Strategy: Influence

Influence

 

You have influence but the question is: how are you using it to positively impact the trajectory of your career? While skimming a Harvard Business Review article by Rebecca Knight, she mentioned an unspoken truth: “To be effective in organizations today, you must be able to influence people. Your title alone isn’t always enough to sway others.” Although your level of influence relies heavily on your approach, proven results and reputation, the article goes on to suggest the following:

• Listen before you persuade
• Map a strategy
• Get people what they want

In addition to the aforementioned suggestions in Rebecca’s article, if you haven’t assessed “how you show up”, there’s no better time than the present. Whether it’s a personal assessment or soliciting feedback from others, you need insight regarding how you affect someone or something which directly correlates to how influential you are…or are not as a woman in today’s workforce.

Consider these tips when expanding your influence:

1. Harness your projection of power. Pause when you speak, maintain good posture and don’t over explain yourself. Speak succinctly.

2. Get better at connecting with others and relationship-building. Career advancement depends on relationships, collaborating and seeking strategic advice. What value do you create as an influential expert in the workplace that helps others achieve their goals? Think win-win because the focus can’t consistently be about you.

3. Change your language. Communicate confidence in your decision-making ability by using “I will” instead of “I think I will.”

4. Own the space. Whether it’s a boardroom or a cubicle, say to yourself: “This is my room. This is my table. This is my audience.”

5. Executive presence: Gauge the impressions you make and how you affect the people around you. Project an action-oriented aura; instead of saying “I was wondering” consider “My plan is_____.” Your strategy should include an understanding of who you influence as well as who you’ve yet to influence. Remember, influence can and should include leverage. Is there someone you need to partner with as it relates to a colleague you have yet to influence?

6. Think bigger and aim higher. Raise your hand; take on tasks or projects that are completely outside your comfort zone.

7. Create brand bites. These are themes that describe you such as “I love to try new things” or said differently, “I take calculated risks.”

If you’re still not convinced influence is an asset, digest Dorie Clark’s perspective in closing: “You get more done and you advance the projects you care about and are responsible for which means you’re more likely to be noticed, get promoted and receive raises.”

Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com

 

 

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Career Moves and Black Shoes

Business woman looking out window

[Full disclosure: this isn’t an article about workplace accessorizing.]

This article gives attention to a mistake I made early in my career that women are still making in 2018: we leave career success to chance. While selecting attire for my most recent Sunday morning Publix run, I thought about my love for shoes and that’s when it hit me: “Why don’t women explore their career options the way we approach black shoes??” Of course this isn’t true for ALL women, but black shoe options vary based on the weather, the season or the occasion for some. I personally have black sandals, black flip flops, black riding boots, black tall boots with a heel, black ankle boots, black stilettos, black peep toes and black pump options with varying heel heights! Can you imagine having a variety of career options similar to what you’ve created with your pursuit of black shoes? I’m here to tell you IT IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, IT IS NECESSARY!

I Googled the average number of shoes women own and the answer is 20. However, only 5 of the 20 are in regular rotation. Having multiple career options in rotation isn’t the problem; the problem arises when you have one option – the role you currently occupy and you’re not proactively considering internal opportunities within an organization as well as external ones. I surveyed my clients only for them to confirm my assumption: women aren’t planning for career success; 80% of respondents don’t have a strategy in place to help them reach the next level in their career.

Chief PowHer Officers: that statistic is too high! It is an unfortunate issue but fret not – you hold the keys to the solution which is excellent news!

We as women can no longer afford to have several black shoe options yet consistently have no idea what’s next for us short-term or long term. Success is planned therefore we must be intentional as it relates to our career endeavors. I recommend the following steps for those of you who believe exercising your career options should be the norm, not the exception.

  1. Clarity: get clear on what you want and what you don’t want. Consider when you’re happiest at work, what you’re doing and which skills you’re leveraging. Create space in your life so that clarity becomes your norm and chaos becomes foreign. You’ll need your head to excel at work but don’t abandon your heart in the process. The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it.
  2. Industry: Make a list of industries that have opportunities based on what you love to do professionally and/or what you’re passionate about. Seek the opportunity; update your resume and apply. Side note: don’t wait until you’re notified for said date and time to prep for an interview, preparation begins once you apply for roles. Anticipating the interview is a component of the process. Access my complimentary EPIC Interviews Training here
  3. Role: Now that you’ve identified industries, make a list of specific roles by title you can secure based on your professional preferences, education and experience. If money is important for you; consider salary. If telecommuting and flexibility appeals to you, consider roles that offer these “perks”. It’s been said we spend 1/3 of our lives at work, pursue opportunities that provide pleasure and that offer rewards you enjoy.
  4. Community: Gone are the days when competing demands stress you out, take over your life leaving you drained, frustrated and feeling “stuck”. Surround yourself with a Success Team that will encourage you, ask the tough questions required for growth, who will suggest you incorporate self-care first so you can exceed performance expectations, who will challenge you so you can reach your next level and who can access doors you can’t. Your next opportunity as well as your career options can come through the relationships you’ve built. Consequently, your lack of career options could be the result of the career relationships you have NOT built.
  5. Strategy: Create a plan to achieve your career goals which should include your next role, your intermediate position and your long-term role. A Harvard Business Study says 14% of those with goals are 10 times more successful than those without them. Write the vision, have faith you’ll achieve your goals and take action.

In my dream world, women:

  • Build credibility in the marketplace as well as the workplace
  • Create a marketing strategy that increases their individual visibility
  • Increase revenues for themselves, not just their employer
  • Collaborate
  • Take smart risks
  • Plan and prepare
  • Examine infrastructure
  • Leverage technology
  • Question systems
  • Dare to say no thank you
  • Excel at work and know their worth
  • Go boldly in the direction of their career dreams
  • Define career success on their own terms #PowHerMoves
  • Have career options just as they do black shoes

 

Ericka Spradley is the President of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com

 

 

 

Women Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Women At Work

I was listening to Pharrell’s Lemon video when I heard him so eloquently state: “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Not too long ago I stumbled across the following words that sparked an immediate eye roll before acknowledging while the truth sometimes hurts; it’s still the truth nevertheless. Here’s what I read:

Women are their own worst enemy. Research shows that women are generally kinder, more nurturing and empathetic to others than men. At the same time, they’re meaner, more dismissive and critical of themselves. Women are hard on themselves. We are self-critical, we cannot take compliments, we always focus on our failings and we have a knack of blaming sexual evolution for our problems. A well-known saying is show me a woman who doesn’t doubt herself and I’ll show you a liar. Whether it be our looks, our thoughts or our performance at work, there is always something that we are not happy about and that we would change if we could.

Is this entire sentiment factual? No. Is this true for all women? Of course not. Have I experienced some of these undesirable traits? Yes. Do these characteristics show up in our careers? Absolutely.

It’s imperative that women transition from being their own worst enemy to their self-proclaimed best advocate. In doing so, there is an opportunity to manage your energy and your expectations of self.

  1. Energy: Physics defines energy as the capacity to work, however energy stems from the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In October 2007, Harvard Business Review published “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” by Catherine McCarthy and Tony Schwartz. Based on a study of Wachovia employees ranging from senior leaders to lower level managers, the results concluded 68% had a positive impact on their relationships with clients; 71% observed a noticeable or substantial positive impact on their productivity and performance. While managing your energy consider:

 

  • Identifying rituals that build and renew your physical energy (body)
  • Understanding your triggers, especially as they relate to fight or flight responses which cause you to react impulsively vs intentionally (emotions)
  • Managing distractions and focus on activities that yield long-term leverage (mind)
  • Considering your values as well as what gives your life a sense of meaning and purpose. Simply put, do something every day that matters to you (spirit)

 

  1. Expectations: Understand and acknowledge that your standards and expectations are not one in the same. A standard is a baseline for quality while an expectation is a strong belief that something will happen in the future. However, both expectations and standards are influenced by the mental narrative we replay over and over again. When managing your expectations, assess your thoughts according to the anticipated goal or outcome. If there’s a contradiction between what you’re thinking and what you intend to produce, upgrade your thoughts. For example, if my goal is to expand globally but I tell myself how unprepared or unqualified I am, I’ll prioritize my actions based my deficiencies not my expertise. My expectations are then subconsciously downgraded during the process only for me to question why I’m challenged in my attempts to achieve the goal. Your thoughts and outcomes must be in alignment as you manage expectations of self, otherwise clarity will continue to evade your intellect.

Between inequities and microaggressions, women consistently face organizational sledgehammers in conjunction with institutional mindsets that hinder their professional progress. Bare minimum, we must begin to manage our energy as well as our expectations so we can own the inside work that moves us from self-sabotaging to self-advocate; from a focus on unequal access (opportunities, hot jobs, etc.) to a workplace authority/subject matter expert, and from critical “what do I need to change now” to confident “I’m not perfect but my performance is valuable to this department and organization.”

Ericka Spradley is the President of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com

 

Career Planning Isn’t the Same as Career Management

MGS-0014 Manpower Group HYC HY Connect Getty royalty free 497326039

In my book “Confident Career Woman: Ditch Perfection, Play Bigger and Make PowHer Moves”, I share the following in PowHer Principle #11- No Goals, No Greatness:

Professional women feel stuck yet they are still failing to plan for their career. 80% of my surveyed clients do NOT have a career strategy.

It’s easy to say “Well, if women aren’t planning, they need to start” but not without addressing the factors that contribute to why we pursue career advancement in the absence of leveraging a plan to manage our careers. Those factors include:

  • Environmental influences meaning lessons women learned growing up. Would you believe 86% of women surveyed by KPMG were taught to be nice to others while only 44% were taught to be a leader? 77% of women were taught to be helpful while 34% were taught to share their point of view. Statistically speaking, we are more than capable of not only leading and managing our career, but our environment and society has taught us in some instances that we should be nice, we should care for others and oh yeah, don’t forget we should help others sometimes while sacrificing ourselves in the process.
  • Institutional mindsets embedded in discrimination and gender stereotypes including “Think manager, think male” or “Men take charge and women take care.” Women are seen as too hard, too soft, not right and not ready. Women face an ongoing battle daily in workplaces around the world repeatedly attempting to prove they can lead while having to work twice as hard as their male counterparts for a fraction of the pay.
  • Individual mindsets which is where the true work is for us as women. We’re self-critical, hard on ourselves and as it relates to managing our careers, we don’t ask for promotions, career path resources/guidance, nor do we ask for salary increases. To properly manage our careers, we simply have to go for it; we must abandon perfectionism, acknowledge the fact that failure isn’t fatal and communicate what we want without expecting others “to know”.

In understanding these factors, one must also understand career planning is merely a component of career management which means you need both to advance your career. Before you can effectively manage your career, you need to first have a plan that includes self-development and action. High performing women are ambitious and assertive, but they are also self-aware.  Prepare answers to the following as you process where you see yourself professionally:

  1. What is the scope of the career you’ve selected?
  2. What are the pros and cons of your career choices?
  3. Can you grow in your field and if so, how?

Once you have a plan in place, you can then leverage your plan and oversee your career by:

  1. Identifying your goals. Your goals can be short-term (specific in nature, one or two-year timeframe, align with your long-term goals), intermediate goals (3-year time frame; broader than short-term goals) and long-term (the broadest and most fluid as we are unaware of unplanned life events, pitfalls, etc. since the goal is extremely futuristic.)
  2. Making wise decisions. This includes investing in your development, capitalizing on strategic relationships and incorporating self-care every step of the way.
  3. Considering “boundaryless careers”. In other words, how can you maintain and enhance your employability by leveraging your skills beyond the confines of your current role, organization and industry?

Managing your career as a woman isn’t impossible, you simply have to be intentional. Begin with the end in mind as you consider your plan, monitor your success and proceed confidently in the direction of your career dreams.

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Avoid The Staircase Syndrome When Setting 2018 Career Goals

businesswoman-walking-upstairs-and-using-touchpad_1262-5985

While texting a friend and providing encouragement regarding his goals, I recently shared: “No one reaches the top of the stair case at once. It is by incremental steps toward the goal that we achieve success. Intentional, consistent action will get you there one day at a time.” Although my advice may seem obvious to you, it isn’t as obvious to countless women according to a study titled “The Underrepresentation of African-American Women In Executive Leadership: What’s Getting In The Way?”

The research suggests women must take accountability for their career, know what they want and develop a plan to get there. Believe it or not, a similar conclusion in KPMG’s Women in Leadership study indicated of the 3000 women surveyed, 85% of them admitted “I need to take greater ownership of my career.” My takeaway: ALL women regardless of race, organizational position or age not just those who participated in the aforementioned studies must take ownership of their career.

When you decide to take charge of your professional life, it is imperative that you unleash the power of goal setting. Although SMART Goals teach us to ensure the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely, there are 3 simple steps you can implement to help you accelerate your career even more so.

  1. Write your goals down. In 2006, USA Today conducted a study on people who made New Year’s Resolutions. There were 2 groups of participants; those who had written goals and those who didn’t. 12 months later the results indicated 4% of those who didn’t write goals down followed through on their resolutions. Consequently, 44% of those who did write their goals down honored their commitment to their resolution.
  2. Make a list. This list should include obstacles you will potentially encounter as you pursue your goal, knowledge and skills you may need, as well as a list of people who can assist and/or support you. Prioritize the list so you’ll know what to do first and what isn’t necessarily urgent in the moment.
  3. Take action immediately. When you incorporate discipline and consistent action, you develop momentum. John Maxwell refers to momentum as “The Big Mo” in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. He states many times momentum is the only difference between winning and losing. Start to affirm failure isn’t an option and your mind will work to ensure you’re positioned for victory.

In all honesty, what holds women back isn’t KSAs, intelligence, qualifications, emotional intelligence or empathy. Oftentimes, it’s the aspects of our career that we have 100% control over that impede our progress and undermine our success. Once you’ve decided on precisely what it is you’d like to accomplish professionally, don’t overwhelm yourself with knowing everything today. Simply follow the steps I’ve provided then begin to move in the direction of your goal with the commitment to conquer it one step at a time knowing in your gut that eventually, you’ll reach the top of the staircase.

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” click here

 

The Career Success Principles

Ericka Spradley Bio

One of my best friends called last week on behalf of a colleague soliciting feedback on her resume. This isn’t unusual considering I’m a Career Coach but I recognized she, like most other professionals make the mistake of reactively preparing for their next career move.  Reactive preparation is an oxymoron resting in the modus operandi of women who are qualified but aren’t necessarily “ready.”

Here’s what I mean by “aren’t necessarily ready”:

  • Your resume  is only updated when you’re applying for your next role
  • You sharpen your interviewing skills after displacement, termination or after you’ve applied for your next role
  • You don’t have a career strategy in place (PS- if your plan is in your head, you don’t have one)

In my latest book “Confident Career Woman: Ditch Perfection, Play Bigger and Make PowHer Moves, specifically in my PowHer Principle “No Goals, No Greatness”, I share these startling stats:

  • 40% of my surveyed clients feel stuck in their career
  • 70% are in need of a development plan
  • 80% don’t have a career strategy
  • 100% are in need of a social capital (networking) strategy

Advancing and managing your career includes the aforementioned as well as these foundational principles for career success:

  1. Update your resume monthly
  2. Interviewing skills are exceptional- ALWAYS
  3. Volunteer for stretch assignments that expand your skill set
  4. Have a mentor and a sponsor
  5. Be visible. In other words leadership should know you by name, face and results to the organization’s bottom line
  6. Document your results weekly
  7. Manage your reputation and calendar as if your career life depends on it because it does
  8. ALWAYS have a career plan meaning you can articulate your short-term and long-term goals
  9. ALWAYS know your value (where you shine as well as where you fall short)
  10. Build relationships continuously

As you consider taking your career to the next level, it’s best to ditch reactive preparation and incorporate these success principles so you make PowHer Moves with intention as well as precision.

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” [click here]

 

Why You Should Start Spreading Your Eggs Around……

Ericka Spradley Headshot

I recall hearing “Never put all of your eggs in one basket” growing up and I had no idea what it meant at that time. The saying was actually a contradiction to my proven success model when I participated in the Annual Easter Egg Hunt. As a kid, where did I place all of my eggs? In one basket! It was a system that allowed me to track my progress while simultaneously motivating me to find more eggs than my competitors. As an adult, I have come to understand and appreciate the meaning of this profound piece of advice: “one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything.” If you’re putting your career eggs in one basket, I recommend spreading them around and here’s why:

  • Things change and perhaps you no longer enjoy your work
  • A change in leadership could result in different expectations of you
  • Your department could get downsized

It’s no secret one of the ways to sustain your career is to keep your options open – especially when you’re satisfied with your current role. Caela Farren, PhD suggests the following 6 approaches and I couldn’t agree with her more. I recommend leveraging them in the event you decide to make “PowHer Moves” or if you simply decide to achieve “Success Standing Still.”

PowHer Moves:

  • Lateral – Move across the organization to a different business unit, product line, department or functional area
  • Vertical – Move up in another division or organization to open doors or move into management aka upward mobility
  • Realign – Move down move into another functional area or profession with more options
  • Relocate – Move out and on! Switch employers to change industries, move geographically or simply transition into another organization (same field)

Success Standing Still:

  • Enrichment – Stay in place by adding more responsibilities/skills to your current job to prepare for another profession or project
  • Explore – Research within the organization (different business unit, product line, department or functional area)

I’ve personally leveraged 5 of the 6 throughout my career (lateral is the one I didn’t try) and my titles include: Customer Service Manager, Assistant Manager, Store Manager, Financial Center Manager, Call Center Supervisor, Client Service Consultant, Career Coach/Consultant, Author, Career Columnist, Communications Officer, Professional Development Office and Adjunct Professor. What does this mean?

  • I intentionally built relationships and managed my reputation throughout my career to expand my reach and increase my visibility
  • I have multiple career options in various industries
  • I’m more marketable because I didn’t place my eggs in one basket

PS- If you’re ready to expand your career options, I have a few seats remaining for my upcoming workshop Career Management 101: [free registration here click here]

In essence, career planning is important but especially for women. This holds true because women tend to have more twists and turns to navigate along the road to career success in comparison to men. With this in mind, it’s in your best interest to have a career road map with both short and long-term options less you become derailed.

 

Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” click here