The battle cry is heard around the world championing women for positions of leadership, however, some would say that women themselves put up the barriers that keep them from advancing.
The challenges we face as professional business women have evolved over the years but there are still some unique obstacles that we face. Here are just a few of the challenges facing women leaders today:
Time. No matter how hard we try, there are still just 24 hours in a day and yet the demands we have on those limited number of hours continue to grow. Unless we find a way to effectively prioritize, our time can be eaten up by tasks that could easily be delegated or postponed until a later time. When we consider our resources, we must understand that time is our most valuable asset and therefore, we must treat it as a finite, precious gift. Giving your time should be viewed as a gift and treated as such – not just something you can throw away thinking you will get back later. Once it is gone…it is gone.
So how do you use your time?
Priorities. We must effectively manage all the things we are responsible for outside of work. Along with our precious, finite time, is understanding how we manage the hours in the day. It has been said that you should delegate all but your genius. Therefore, if possible, find someone to run basic errands, clean your home, prepare meals so that you can use your time for your family, your charities and yourself.
Pick me. For the most part, women are not comfortable raising their hand for an advanced position, especially if they do not have all the credentials. We need to get over ourselves. It has been said that men will learn a thimbleful of knowledge more than the next guy and feel comfortable positioning themselves as an expert. Whereas women have to work for years mastering a skill before they will timidly agree that they have some experience.
When an opportunity arises for advancement or a special task force that is part of your future career plan – raise your hand. Say “pick me” and figure out the rest later. There are countless people who have said they have skills they don’t, in order to get the job and then they quickly learn those skills.
Manage your brand. It is a fine line between assertive, effective and bitchy. There has been a long history of discrepancies between men and women in this matter. Men are assertive, women are aggressive. Men age gracefully, women are haggard. It is a narrow tightrope we walk when it comes to the impressions we leave with others. The best advice is to be confident in your knowledge, experience and skills and be yourself. Don’t try to be “like a man” in the business world, be who you are naturally and you will gain the respect and position you desire.
Find joy. This can be a challenge. We are so busy working for and helping others we neglect to look for and acknowledge the joy in our lives. Although you may not have achieved everything you hope to, find and acknowledge the joy you have in your life right now. Let go of the guilt and relish the joy.
Some of these challenges may be difficult to overcome, especially if you are hampered by more than one; but take it slow. Start by recognizing the value of your time and making sure that each moment is enjoyed, cherished and spent in a way that best reflects the life you would have.
You have a lot to offer. If you don’t break through these barriers, your family, your work, your community and your world will be deprived of all you have to offer. You owe it to those around you to face the challenges and be strong.