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4 Power Moves to Amplify Women on International Women’s Day

by Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D.

4 Power Moves to Amplify WomenThey were done with the mansplaining and elbowing into conversations. Female staffers early in Obama’s first term noted that a male staffer could say something once and be heard; a woman had to say it three times. They created an “amplification” strategy—when a woman made a key point, others would repeat it and give her credit—thereby amplifying the power of their voices, and ensuring great ideas were heard, acted upon, and implemented.

In my upcoming book, AmplifyPower Moves for Women & Their Allies to Ignite Change, I share a new series of power moves that research shows can deliver outsized results for women in work and in life, helping them not only move past a specific barrier they may be facing, but also help fix the broader system that so often fails to recognize women’s potential and fairly value their work.

But let’s be clear, these aren’t just old power plays in disguise. Power moves have traditionally existed in our imaginations as win-lose propositions, an adrenaline-producing race to a finish line in which competitors are vanquished by sharp elbows, to produce one winner who stands alone. It’s a lot of drama that tends to earn clicks and likes and sell movie tickets.

These power moves will ignite your leadership career and amplify the impact of women leaders.

Declare yourself

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”—Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

Women need ask for what they want in their careers. While everyone needs to declare their readiness for the next step up, women often miss cues, such as when and how often to remind people what they can do now and what they want to do in the future. And as conscientious rule-followers, women might miss the point that merely following instructions is not enough to win the day. Women should voice their desire for obvious things like salary raises and promotions, but also for things like development opportunities and work-life balance.

Radiate confidence

“I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Pink, Grammy-winning singer

You’re at a music festival and have two options for your next show: a singer who slinks onstage and sings quietly while looking at the floor or a dynamic lead singer who owns the stage in her every move. Which one do you choose? The one radiating confidence, of course!

I challenge you to channel your inner rock star—like Madonna. One of the things Madonna (and performers of all types) master is to seize the stage with an air of confidence. Were they born this way, or did they develop this skill?

It’s likely the confidence they project to the audience was developed over time. As a young singer, Madonna most likely was scared silly on the inside, but didn’t let those emotions show on the outside. Even now, after performing for more than 30 years, Madonna admits that she still gets nervous before a show. But she marches forth anyway, taking on new challenges (like a Super Bowl halftime show).

But this advice is not just for rock stars. In the stories I gathered while researching my book, wearing a mantle of fearlessness, backing yourself, and having the tenacity to get back on the horse when you fall off were all cited by women leaders as critical characteristics in their move up the ladder. In fact, one savvy leader offered the following advice when women hold themselves back from that next opportunity:

“When you feel envy, question why you haven’t gone for it yourself.”

Fail forward

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that's the one that is going to require the most from you.” Caroline Myss, Author

Who has had a spectacular failure? Most of us, I’d wager. While we all fear letting ourselves and others down by a professional failure, we must learn to fail forward. Failure provides opportunity to recalibrate our internal report-card listing areas of personal strength and better understand our weaknesses. Failure means you’ve tried!

Know and understand what is important to you and be very clear about the goals you want to achieve. However, don’t be afraid to fail along the way.

“Success is about working out what you want to do, not necessarily driving for the name or title, but more about the richness of what you’re doing,” one of our female senior leaders said. In other words, failure is not about failure; it’s about learning. In fact, I recently had someone share with me that FAIL is a good four-letter-word. It’s an acronym for First Attempt In Learning.

Super-power your network

"Find a professional tribe. Find a group of three to five people you can go to when you've hit a wall at work… or just need to vent." —Laura Weidman Powers, Cofounder, Code2040

These days, networks can seem vast. While social media has extended many people’s networks, connecting with your college roommate and “liking” her dog photos isn’t exactly driving purposeful connection. Of course, those dog photos are great (I love dog photos!), but having connections is not the same as making connections.

I’m talking about purposeful connections. Networking can help you have career payoffs and get stuff done more effectively and efficiently. These networks will help you not only now in your current role, but in your future roles as well. Because, often it really is who you know in life.

The key is to find people who believe in you even more than you believe in yourself. Mentors and sponsors can provide you with insight, guidance, and advice, even with challenges you haven’t yet encountered. Hence women need to amplify their network with purposeful connections. The skill is to proactively challenge yourself to meet these people and continue to meet them within the organization, because if you choose the right ones, they’ll back you when you hit short-term roadblocks and in igniting your overall career.

In fact, recent research at the University of Notre Dame showed that for women their inner circle is a key to gaining high-ranking leadership positions . So, let’s super-power those networks because the payoff will be profound.

On International Women’s Day, March 8th, I am delivering a virtual keynote, “Amplify: Power Moves for Women and Their Allies to Ignite Impact .” The goals for the keynote are two-fold: to ignite women’s confidence to pursue leadership, and to include men in the solution and provide practical tips for becoming better mentors, leaders, co-workers, and parents to unleash the potential of this generation of women and the next. Please join me!

Reserve your spot for the Amplify: Power Moves for Women and Their Allies to Ignite Impact virtual keynote.

Join the conversation on Twitter and follow the hashtag #AmplifyWomen.

Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D., is DDI’s chief executive officer and co-author of  Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others. She is also co-author, with Fortune Magazine writer Ellen McGirt, of the forthcoming book Amplify: Power Moves for Women & Their Allies to Ignite Change.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019,
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