Why you can’t get traction but your male colleagues can
We’ve all heard it. We’ll look at a job description and won’t apply for it, because we can’t quite tick off every requirement. On the other hand, our male counterparts will consider themselves perfect for the role if they meet just 70% of the requirements. Or how about this one: we’ll suggest something in a meeting and it’s repeated and then claimed by your male peer.
Despite what we thing, it is in our control
It’s not their fault, and it’s not fair. But if we can move beyond that, we can take the steps needed to have the impact we want.
I remember sitting in a meeting with my CFO, CEO and 2 other male colleagues. I was singled out as the only female and asked by my CFO to take notes. I’m a note taker, anyway, so was happy to leverage my own personal habits, but couldn’t help thinking “is there something more to this?”.
We may not be genetically wired to be overconfident, but we are naturally wired to be interested in people. In fact, most of the female leaders I talk to have a deep desire “to help people” and find it very frustrating when they can’t.
What to do
We need to use this to our advantage.
When you are preparing for your meeting or conversation where you want to make an impact, or at least have your presence felt, follow these 4 steps:
Who is the most important person in that conversation when it comes to your presence?
Is that person most focused on results, relationships or status? I.e. What do they most care about? This is the lens that you need to look through when crafting your message and method of communication.
Who would be a useful ally in the conversation? Get them across your message/key point. Ask them to join the conversation (if appropriate).
Be clear in your ask. For whatever reason - and there are many, we hesitate when asking for something. Consider the outcome you want from the conversation - and make sure you communicate that clearly. It may be as simple as wanting them to address you in the meeting. If that's the case, you might, for example, ask at the end, “John, I’ve heard that these are the areas you’d like us to focus on. Are there any other factors relevant to this situation that may help us achieve this outcome?” You’ve taken the floor, been noticed and potentially added massive value to the conversation.
In my example above, I knew that the CEO was the most important person in that conversation and my note taking would ensure that we (everyone else in the room) didn't drop the ball on his requirements. I leaned into the conversation and made sure I was clear in my ask. And whilst my ego was a little bruised, I knew I had the support of one of my male colleagues - he was naturally quieter in nature and we made a good duo.
Use your natural talents to get you noticed.