Your Way…Or…?

In the last blog, I talked about the importance of forging corporate relationships, why it can be hard for women to do and offered specific tips from my interview published in the July 5, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle.

In this blog, I’d like to focus on what seems to be an even more difficult challenge for many women—developing multiple perspectives.  It’s the flip side of the same coin.  Both building corporate relationships and developing multiple perspectives are strategies for getting unstuck.

They are approaches to seeing the corporate world more accurately from the perspective of its leaders and its customers. Both are a means to the all-important end of joining the top ranks of an organization.

No doubt about it—women who rise to mid-management positions in leading companies are smart, talented and determined. However, that intelligence, that task-focus and that tenacity can turn into stumbling blocks as they reach for the next levels. It is a fine line, often crossed, between determination and stubbornness; between tenacity and shortsightedness.

In order for women to succeed to C-suite positions, they must make a sea-change shift from an internal to an external focus by developing a multi-faceted perspective about the corporate world.

What are the components of this much-needed multiple-faceted perspective?

  • A willingness to swap the comfort zone of what you know for the curiosity zone of what you need.
  • An openness to changing your behaviors and your perspective
  • A wide range of corporate contacts
  • An ability and willingness to manage up and manage down
  • Relationships with sponsors and mentors who support you in your development and provide honest, meaningful insight and feedback into what needs to change
  • A gut-level acceptance of the importance of diversity in all its forms in today’s global marketplace
  • When you feel you have the answer, building the habit to ask yourself “How do I know? What difference will it make to the company? To our customers?”

How does a woman gain this important multiple-faceted perspective?

  • Actively seek out those who will widen your corporate point of view
  • Don’t “fall in love with your own story.”  Understand that it is only ONE story
  • Look for both validation and clarification.  Be willing to change, but also don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
  • Try to understand, rather than to judge
  • Be introspective, not for it’s own sake, but to evolve your perspectives
  • Participate in developmental programs that foster the growth of a multi-faceted point of view
  • Ask for feedback
  • Be curious about how other individuals view situations

As I said in the interview in The San Francisco Chronicle, women need to find ways to create a safe environment in which they can explore different perspectives and achieve greater insight into navigating their organizations.

It is folly to think anyone—male or female—can do that alone.

Rosina Racioppi                                                                                 President & CEO                                                                               WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.