Published in Jun 2018 / Updated in Aug 2021
“If you want something done, ask a man, If you want something done right, ask a woman”
These inspirational words from Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, should be a wake-up call to all the ladies. When I look at iconic female leaders like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, I feel greatly empowered to strongly stand my ground (as a woman), defend my rights, and not feel sorry, disappointed, or guilty about it.
Maybe you are an inexperienced girl fresh out of college, but how does that mandate your egocentric boss to undermine you in the workplace? Girl, you owe him nothing! Not a single thing.
Are you feeling undermined, mistreated, or indebted to your boss, or feel you need to do “special favors” to get that promotion or a vacation leave? If so, here is where the rubber hits the road.
This takes me back to the days when I was first employed. Well, it was a short-term project; however, my friend “Jenny” and I desperately wanted a superb recommendation letter. So, we decided to become the bosses’ puppets. Guess what! “Jenny” ended up being a victim of his insatiable predatory sexual cravings. Ultimately we got the good report; Jenny got rehired, but deep inside my heart I felt it was not just right. It has been five years since then, but the agonizing pain of self-pity and blame slowly destroys me from the inside. Anyway, “Jenny” finally made peace with her traumatizing past, left her “scratch my back job” for a merit-rewarding job.
So, how should you protect your career?
1. They will judge you on how you present yourself
It is the dream of every ambitious employee to work their way up to the big seat. However, climbing the ladder is not as easy as it seems. You need to have a heart of steel, strong commitment and you need to be incredibly resilient. However, some people decide to climb the easier way. Your boss may seem to be extremely impressed with your extra favors, and you may get some undeserving allowances. The promise of getting a promotion completely deludes most people. Trust me, you are in for a big shock if you think it will get you far, but you will forever remain as the faithful puppet and never get any promotions. All you will get are merciful peanut allowances.
Look at it this way, as the boss, would you award an under-performer who cannot make her own decision and watch the company go under, or a performer with great perfectly laid out plans? That’s some food for thought.
It is impartial to protect your career by categorically facing the board of directors and explain your facts without fear of telling the truth. If they are not approved, don’t lose hope, your aggressiveness will never go unnoticed.
2. You’ll be more successful
Call a spade a spade and not a big spoon. I wonder how many young women are afraid of facing their seniors, for fear of being looked down upon or rebuked. It’s true; some individual personalities are not the best for teamwork, however, you need to be assertive to yourself, be honest with yourself about how you feel and perceive a particular situation.
According to McKnight “people with authentic personalities at work are ten times more productive and tend to take their careers higher than their pretender counterparts.” From experience, I know how difficult it is to fake a personality. Unleashing your inner self enables you to profoundly and naturally connect with your clients. This dramatically impacts your general performance, turning you into a shining star.
In 2005 I had a chance to work with an investment banker whose calling was in arts. She would spend her off hours making drawings. Being in a male-dominated career made her think that she was not good enough. However, after looking at her drawings, I was astonished by how intricate and perfect they were. I advised her to take it as a side hustle, and now she makes twice the amount she does from her banking job. In arts, she is happier, more successful and I guess she is more of an artist than a banker.
3. Protect your Reputation
Remember the famous words of Warren Buffett, “It will take you 20 years to build a good reputation and just 5 minutes to bring it down.”
What do you want people to talk about after you have been awarded that promotion? Do you want to be termed as the popular “go-getter” or the beautiful lady who cheated the world? Remember, all it takes is just one scandal to bring all your lifetime efforts crumbling down.
Don’t compromise your reputation. Fight for what you have been working so hard on for so long. Don’t let anyone taint your public image. Reputation building and hard work are what people build careers on.
4. Guard your Freedom
Adams Smith (the father of economics) said that “A free mind is more productive than an enslaved one.” Older colleagues sometimes feel entitled to special treatment just because they have been in the trade for longer, but that’s absolute nonsense.
Remember you pay your own bills. The fact that you are young does not mean you can’t make your own decisions. Don’t let anyone micromanage you or your time. Earn your own money and spend it how you feel.
The only way to succeed in your career is not by acting on other people’s judgments, but by your own insights. Take the less-traveled path; maybe you will find a treasure house, who knows!