Playing Like a Girl & Winning! Strategies to Kick Butt at Work as a Grown & Sexy Woman

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All you want is to feel accomplished in your career. To love your job, go to work, kick ass and take names every day. But instead, you're tired, underutilized and frustrated. You have so much talent to offer. You have great ideas. Yet you aren't taken seriously. No one listens to you. Others take credit for YOUR ideas.

Or worse...Your career is stalled, and your skills are stagnating. And you ask yourself, ‘Why does this keep happening?’, 'What am I doing wrong here?', 'Maybe if I were more like one of the guys, it'd be better.' But there is just one problem.

You are not a guy.

And trying to act like 'one of the guys' for 40 hours a week is awkward, draining and disingenuous to ourselves, our team and our company. Not to mention that loads of research suggest that women receive backlash for trying to take on more 'male dominant' characteristics.

"Trying to act like 'one of the guys' for 40 hours a week is awkward, draining and disingenuous to ourselves."

So what can we do? Instead of trying to be more like men to succeed, we should focus on our strengths. And use those too so we can be comfortable in our skin while being a rock star at work.

1. Quit holding yourself back - this is business so play to win

Working isn't like going to the park. Where its open to everyone, anyone can stay as long as they want, and no one will ask you to leave. It's a job, with company rules, standards and politics. And trust and believe that they will ask you to leave if you don't perform.
Nothing personal, it's only business.

Our parents taught us to make friends and be thoughtful of others. But there is nothing shady or repulsive about wanting more, marketing yourself, making sure folks know your worth or seeking out opportunities to give more to your company. The same way you would encourage a coworker, or praise them for hard work is the same thing you should do for yourself.

We have to change our mindset about competition. Your winning doesn't mean that everyone else loses. So make yourself visible. Volunteer to help whenever you can and use it as an opportunity to showcase your skills.

2. Stop working so hard

Women believe if we just keep our head down and keep working hard everyone will -eventually- notice our hard work and reward us appropriately. That'd be great if it worked that way. But it doesn't.

There is a reason they say business deals are made on the golf course, and it's because a large part of our job has nothing to do with the work we do for the company. Networking and building relationships is also a part of our job. If we are too busy working and miss the lunch opportunities, coffee break chit chat or after work happy hour then teammates and bosses won't get to know us. Again, visibility is vital.

People recommend trusted peers that they know for positions, not just people who work hard. So try to catch up with the coworkers whenever you can.

3. Learn the rules of the game

Remember how clumsy you look when you played a game for the first time? Well, when you fail to understand critical players, acceptable behaviors and how things operate in the current state of the union, it's like having your awkward, clumsy first day ... every day.

So, observe and write down the unwritten rules of your workplace. Who are the influencers, what is the process for getting things pushed through? What do folks value when making a decision? What are the expectations of the high performers and high rollers? How do influencers behave? These questions help you figure out how to navigate your world and get things done.

It's especially if your voice isn't getting heard. Knowing key players means you can leverage an influencer as a 'big stick' to get people in line when your carrot approach doesn't work.

4. Use your superpower

Your emotional intelligence is your secret weapon to winning at work. It's your ability to 1) identify and manage your own emotions, 2) pick up on the emotions of others and manage them, and 3) in doing so - build trust and grow influence. In fact, many studies suggest that women have an edge over men in this category.

And this is a huge benefit in the workplace. Because workers with high EQ are better able to work in teams, adjust to change, anticipate needs and be flexible.

So it pays to be a chameleon and change your message and your delivery based on your audience. And be willing and ready to do what's needed. Recognize when a coworker needs nurturing to figure out the right answer for themselves, and when you need to gut-punch them (figuratively of course) and call them out on their bad behavior.

5. Ditch mentors and find influencers

I know I'm not following the conventional advice here. So I'll ask you. Do you need a mentor to give you professional and personal help/guidance, or an influencer to bring you opportunities, advocate for you, introduce you to folks who can help you and tries to open doors for you? Basically, put you on the radar of those who can help launch your career?

If your stomach just dropped and you're thinking 'Bring opportunities?!?!? I'm not ready. That's scary! Nope, I need nice safe guidance' then think of this as gently shoving you out the nest so you can fly.

So often self-doubt sneaks in, telling us we aren't ready or we need more of '___' before we are ready for the next level. When we are perfectly ready for action! Don't hide behind the need for a mentor. Not only that, female mentors/role models are hard to find, and some are so busy staying on top they don't have time for mentoring so what are you going to do? We can't fold our arms and sit this round out.

Identify the most influential people in your firm and use them as a backdrop for improvement. Join the appropriate affinity group - for young professionals, people of color or for women because they usually have seasoned, more experienced folks who are hungry to help others. Do all the heavy lifting - set up the meeting, the agenda and come prepared. Remember if you weren't ready, they wouldn't stake their reputation on you by pushing you for a job you couldn't handle.

6. Don't  act like a guy, act like you

Playing like a girl and winning is being true to your personality. Don't hide or discredit what you bring to the table. You can be strong and assertive and still be feminine. You can be *insert stereotypical male character trait* and still be true to yourself. You have the tools to kick butt, without pretending to be someone else all day long. You're just someone to tell you it's okay.

So here you go. You have permission to be yourself, let your light shine and bring your best skills to the table. What do you have to lose? Let's get to it.

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