A. I have a very strong opinion on this. Traditionally, women are coached on leadership behavior and not on the business. I don’t care how straight you sit at the table. The people that get ahead in life are people that change and drive the business impact. Be that person.
As you look to advance your career, think about exactly what is propelling the conversation forward from a business perspective. What are you working on? Does anybody care about it? Does the thing you work on help propel the company forward? If not, why not? How can you better position yourself to elevate your value?
It’s important to get out and expand your awareness beyond your core competency. Network across the company and learn about other areas of the business. If you’re just in one discipline, your aperture is small. You may become a deep technical expert, but beyond that, you may be forgotten or left behind. Building your broader network is important to keep your options open and so people see your value when opportunities arise.
If you stay in your bubble, decisions up top might seem arbitrary to you. If you don’t have your aperture open to other parts of the business and industry, it will be hard for you to propel yourself forward in a meaningful way.
If you’re an engineer who’s in charge of an engineering team, understand that you are running a small business. That body of work that your team delivers, whether it directly gets shipped to a customer or helps make sure somebody can make a product for the customer, is your business.
One mentor of mine was Andy Bryant, who was the CFO of Intel, then the CAO, then the chairman of the board. When people would come to his meetings and catalog all the problems, he’d counter with, “What would you do if you were king?” If you want to be a glass-ceiling breaker you need to embrace that perspective—what would you do?
On top of embracing a kingly perspective in your profession as a glass-ceiling breaker, let’s face it, most of us have 10 jobs. We’ve got kids, we’ve got parents, we’ve got community volunteer obligations. We probably are redoing the house at the same time. We have to be a part-time restaurant and a part-time chauffeur. It all stacks up. And oh, by the way, the other thing we do at work is that we often run the diversity groups. Figuring out how to be judicious with your time and boundaries is paramount.