I had read this book earlier this year thanks to my company’s Women Leadership Forum Networking Book Chain.
I did not know what the author meant with that “corner office” reference, but the subtitle in the front cover made me instinctively grab the book from the pile: “Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers”… Wow! Well, I definitely don´t want to unconsciously sabotage my career, so let’s take a look!
The book I got is a new and updated edition of a New York Times bestseller, which offers advice to women with regards to business and career.
In the past, I have read several of the most widely acclaimed classic self-help books about self-esteem, assertiveness, proactivity, life goal settings, personal development and achievement, how to deal with negative emotions and so on; but these self-help titles deal with the subjects in a more theoretical and psychological way, not giving many specific day-to-day examples, so if you are short of epiphanies and “a-ha moments”, you will need to read them several times before the knowledge permeates your grey cells and you are able to put things together in a practical way.
Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office, on the contrary, displays plenty of examples of what the writer describes as “mistakes”: working environment behaviors that can sabotage your career, also paired with the needful advice on how to deal with challenging situations.
The author assumes that women learn to be “nice girls” in childhood and carry some self-sabotaging behaviors (i.e. continuous seek for approval, putting others interests before your own) to adulthood… So she invites women to make a conscious transition from nice girl to adult woman by becoming fully aware of those behaviors and changing the fearful voice inside for a reliable and assertive pitch.
The “mistakes” come to fall into seven categories:
- How you play the game.
The author is very clear about it: whatever your company business is, its size or corporate culture, office politics prevail and you have to play the game by the rules, if you want to succeed. Some of the common mistakes are: not engaging in social networking, doing the work of others (being “too helpful”), protecting or covering for irresponsible and inconsiderate people (A.K.A. “ jerks”) at work, among others.
- How you act.
This section deals with overcoming insecurity and the need for approval. The message is: an adult self-empowered woman does not need to be liked, so be confident in yourself and stop acquiescing to abusive behaviors.
- How you think.
This section is about making you aware of misguided attitudes and beliefs that can be conditioning your behavior in a negative way: reluctance to delegate, premature abandoning your career goals, putting work ahead of your personal life are just some of them.
- How you brand and market yourself.
“A personal brand is a promise of performance that creates expectations in audience. Done well, it clearly communicates the values, personality and abilities of the person behind it.”
Here the writer quoting Marketing author Peter Montoya, invites us to define our personal brand and be the first to recognize and showcase our own merits and achievements.
- How you sound.
Do you feel the need to over explain or use too many preambles? Are you always apologizing or asking for permission? Do you use “touchy-feely” language?
Well, it seems that all this habits are mistakes which detract from our credibility, so the author gives some coaching tips on how to communicate and deliver our message in an effective way.
- How you look.
Talking about credibility, it seems that more than fifty percent of success depends on our physical appearance and non-verbal communication: wearing inappropriate attire or make up, using gestures inconsistent with your message or avoiding eye contact are some of the habits to be completely avoided.
- How you respond.
This section is about emotional intelligence: to reach the necessary self- coherence that will help you to fully reach your objectives, you have to work against some cognitive tendencies and attitudes like internalizing negative messages, holding a grudge, permitting other´s mistakes to inconvenience you.
In Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office you will find over 130 tips that will help you gaining awareness of some attitudes and behaviors that can contribute to damage your image and stagnate your career.
I have found this book quite interesting and revealing, but be conscious that the book has been written targeting the American audience, so there are some cultural differences that are applicable even to global corporate environments, depending on which area of the globe you are sitting in: I personally don’t agree with some of the author’s statements, but all in all, I would recommend this title since it is a light and fun book which offers many useful hints and insights.