Most women are passionate cheerleaders for the achievements of those they care about—kids, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, bosses, colleagues, subordinates…with one notable exception…

THEMSELVES.

Women often shy away from getting the word out about their corporate accomplishments. They tend to harbor the misguided expectation that their work will speak for itself. Not likely. And even if it does, will it say the right thing? Will it help push a career to the next level? Or will it reinforce a corporate need to keep someone right where they are?

Catalyst research has found that men are paid on potential while women are paid on performance. This may be due, in part, to women not ”tooting their own horn.” When a woman chooses to let her work speak for itself, she thwarts her own progress by limiting information critical for senior leadership to assess her talents and abilities. By “tooting her own horn” a woman can begin to shift the equation and give corporate leaders a sense of not just her performance, but her leadership potential.

That’s why there is nothing wrong, and everything right, with making big hits known, whether it’s closing an important piece of new business…hitting on a major new product breakthrough…or receiving a reward from a professional organization.

How to do it? Word of mouth. Memo. Forwarding a press release. Having a trusted corporate friend or colleague get the word out. It’s also always good practice to frame accomplishments in terms of how they benefit the corporation and the sense of satisfaction that accompanies being part of that success.

Compliments Are Often Missed Opportunities

I also find that women tend to blow off compliments, rather than leverage them, which flies squarely in the face of best practices. Handling a compliment in the right way can win allies and forge key relationships.

An effective approach would go something like this. Let’s say a Vice President congratulates a middle-level manager on an outstanding presentation. First, she should thank the VP for the compliment and then ask, “What was the most impactful aspect of the presentation?” To really wow the executive, she could then ask “If there is one thing I could change to make the presentation better, what would you suggest?” By seeking out constructive feedback, the manager is cultivating a stronger relationship with the VP, and is also leaving the door open for future interactions.

For any number of reasons, women at all levels need to become skilled at both making their accomplishments visible and leveraging the power of a compliment. Developing these strategies will accelerate the transition from women being paid for their performance to their being paid for their potential!

As Jean Otte, founder of WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. so often told participants in our programs: “It’s not what you know, it’s who knows you know.”

Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.