Women have traditionally been underrepresented when it comes to leadership roles in the workplace. But times have changed. There have been improvements in gender disparity in the top tiers of businesses. According to the 2018 Grant Thornton International Business Report, almost one third (29%) of management positions in South Africa are now filled by women, an increase from 26% in 2014. Even at Nashua, we’ve had women in the management team. They played a significant role in evolving the perception of Nashua from a printer distributor to a fully integrated business solutions provider, including fibre internet and workspace solutions. If you’re looking to make strides in the corporate world as a female, here are some strategies you can consider.
Live by your own standards
You have to put in the hours and drive yourself – otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere. Stick resolutely to your own standards and never settle for anyone else’s standard of ‘good enough’ – focus on doing your best by your own measures.
Leave room for guidance
Mentorship is a practical way to recognise your strengths and weaknesses to build self-confidence. Without knowing your breaking point or weaknesses, you won’t be able to overcome them. Without knowing your strengths, you’ll never be able to play towards them.
Talk less, listen more
If you don’t know how to address something, ask for advice. There’s a difference between constantly asking for help and actually asking for advice and learning from it. When you listen and ask more questions when you enter the corporate world, you might find yourself calmer and more at ease with yourself from very early on.
Learn from past mistakes
Mistakes are natural because it’s the only way you learn. But you can turn a mistake into a valuable lessons and put them into practice. You will gain experience on how to best tackle problems, which in turn can help you innovate and succeed.
Never approach a business environment, relationship or friendship with a chip on your shoulder because you’re a woman. You might come out batting because you thought the boys are out to get you. Instead of thinking you have to work harder because you’re a woman, just always do the best you can. The industry isn’t going to make any concessions simply because you’re a woman. When you’re in a position of power you could be disliked because of the decisions you make, and that would be no different whether you’re a woman or a man.
Be your own cheerleader
Resilience can be a secret weapon. You can only become resilient when you are confident about who you are – which is easier said than done. Encourage the positive things – tell yourself how great you are, to clear out the negative thoughts.
The only constant is change – you can embrace it and find the value in it so you can move forward, or you can resist the change and focus on the negative. Opportunities are far greater than they were in the past, but it’s up to you to make something of those opportunities.
Never stop learning
Education is vital. You cannot get anywhere without it. Don’t stop at school or university. It doesn’t have to be a formal degree from the onset. It can start with a short course, reading a lot or exploring your EQ. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
With so many success stories out there of women who broke the glass ceiling, it’s possible for anyone to grab a seat at the table. Arianna Huffington, Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg –the list goes on. Read more about them here; hopefully, their stories will inspire you to pave your own way in the corporate world.