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Speak Up and Take Risks for Career Success

Speak Up and Take Risks for Career Success

Kerrie Halmi | Excelle

I had the amazing opportunity a couple months ago to see Gloria Steinem speak. She, as most of you probably know, is a very well-known feminist. I asked her how we can continue to change the corporate culture to make it more inviting and more equal for women. Her answer was very interesting. She said, “Eliminate caution.”

Eliminate caution. And she spoke further about how this relates to having good work-life balance programs and women supporting each other across hierarchies. It relates to a lot of ways in which women can make or break our careers.

I challenged a CEO on why he didn’t have any women on his board of directors. He said there was one that he had hand-picked, who was very qualified for the job. However, after two years, she was voted off because she did not say anything.

Eliminating caution applies to the topic of what I call “finding your corporate voice.” You need to eliminate caution when you are getting ready to speak up, when you’re in a meeting, when you’re talking one on one to somebody. Too often women don’t speak up if they don’t think they have the right thing to say or if they don’t think what they’re saying is significant. The result can be that they don’t say much of anything and then people assume they don’t have anything to say and they lose credibility.

The other way you need to take risks is giving up some of your work — delegate. The ability to delegate well has a large impact on your success at work, especially as you move up the ladder.

Take risks by accepting or going for promotions and lateral moves for which you might not feel 100% ready. I’ve seen way too many women literally not accept promotions because they say they’re not ready. When we go through the job description and their qualifications, they are ready enough. But they need to be ready to take the risk.

Finally, take risks by daring to not be perfect — that is a common issue for women. When we try to be perfect at everything we do, we end up completely overwhelmed and becoming less successful as a result. Learn when a report is O.K.; when you don’t have to go over your PowerPoint presentation that hundredth time. If you’re not sure where to draw the line, get some feedback from mentors.

In summation: To succeed in business, you need to take risks and eliminate caution. Get your voice heard, delegate, go after those promotions and dare to not be perfect. You will find out that leading a riskier professional life leads to greater success and satisfaction.

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