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Roughing It Out As Women In Leadership!

How to create your own rules at work and at home.

Courtesy: Wix Images

I was recently asked to speak at a Women in Tech Event by David Katerere’s Connect Conversations.

My topic: “Roughing It Out In The Tech Industry”.

Am I in the tech industry? Nope.

I quit the tech industry before I could even start. I graduated with honors from University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly UMUC) in 2004, with a Masters In Telecommunications Management. I chose not to pursue a career in tech for the very reasons I see women complain about today.

Looking back, I seriously applaud the brave women who are making an impact in that space. And if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have been one of them. Although I love the impact I created in the telecommunications industry as a woman entrepreneur with two partners. For the 10 years I spent here, we created the largest outsourcing agency within the telecommunications sector in East Africa. My partners continue to live that legacy.

So here's what roughing it out looks like for many;-

  • They Sideline Me

  • They sometimes Don’t Listen To Me

  • They say I am not Assertive Enough

  • They say I am Too Aggressive

  • They Ignore me

In my opinion, these challenges are not much different from challenges faced by ‘Women in Leadership’ or ‘Women on Boards.’

Now assuming you have a friend who’s coming to you with these complaints, do you notice a pattern here? Do you notice that all the complaints are outside of her?

Fact: These behaviors do happen. And there is so much out there being done to create all-inclusive and diverse work environments. And it is awesome work!

Fact: We contribute to the negative behaviors we receive, directly or indirectly.

I have learned that the cause of our pain comes from spending so much time focusing on the behavior outside of us, rather than the behavior we have control over.

When something is not going exactly the way we want we tend to find reasons outside of us. These reasons show up like this; "they are not treating me well, they do not appreciate me, they are not fair," and on on.

How much control do we have over circumstances outside of us? None!

Why we should look inwards.

The biggest lesson that I have learned as a coach is that we have control over our results. In fact this was the best news flash ever.

"If we start caring less about what others think of us and start cring more about what we think of ourselves then our true potential can be set free." ~Dean Graziosi

If we want to see our results change we have to do the internal work just as much as the outside work.

My teacher, Master Coach Brooke Castillo created this wonderful coaching model that we can use to bring awareness to what we are creating in our lives today. I use this model with my clients to solve their day-to-day problems so they can have room to create strategies for success. And it works wonders!

This model is based on the premise that our thoughts cause our feelings, our feelings create our actions and our actions give us the results we see in our lives today. This is how the brain works.

All circumstances are factual and are outside of our control. So when the males in your team talk over you, they are doing what they do because they want to. Not because you have any control over their behavior.

The question is, how do you react when they talk over you?

Do you shrink, complain, and shout over them? Or do you allow them their five minutes of fame and then assertively make your point, while letting them know that they cannot interrupt you as you speak?

If you do not know how to create a voice that is heard, in your male-dominated workplace, here’s what I suggest you do. Look inwards to see how strong your foundation is, in order for that voice to come out.

Here’s how you build that foundation.

1. Acceptance.

Accept the patriarchal society, it is what it is. Period. You have no control over the testosterone levels hovering around you. That’s God’s terms. And corporate politics is a term that someone coined. But you don't have to lose yourself in it.

2. Know your values.

What do you stand for? Why are you where you are? Is it for freedom, accountability, respect, competence, achievement or wealth? If your values are not aligned with your purpose then the challenges are going to seem that much more horrendous. Be clear on your values and live by them. Use Brenè Brown's list of values if you need some help.

3. Who do you want to be?

You are not here to change the status quo in a flash, but to make an impact, on your own terms. Be firm in who you are and what you stand for. Build a personal brand that speaks for you as opposed to one that you have to speak for. Be very clear and specific with your boundaries. And do not allow yourself to bend them either.

4. What do you want to achieve in this role?

If your goals are clearly defined, and you are doing what you love success will come. Passion and purpose create the best results when your values are aligned with your organization. Have clarity on what you want to achieve and be all in. Make it clear so everyone knows where you are going. No one can stop you when you are all in.

5. Do You Love What You Do?

Sometimes we confuse being good at a job with passion. If you do not love what you are doing, it shows in all your actions. Hence the results you see today. Loving what you do is important. Knowing your ‘why’ is equally as important. These two are the prerequisites of a life that is fulfilling.

Emotional Balance is key. Women who have done the inner work, achiever greater success in creating phenomenal careers and phenomenal homes.

If you are a woman in leadership and would like some help to create your own rules so that you can become phenomenal career woman, while balancing work and home, send me a message here so we can discuss how I can help.

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