By: Dwain Celistan
In your career, there are many opportunities to make positive things happen and avoid unfortunate
mistakes. It is helpful to be aware of potential pitfalls. Beyond awareness, you need to have actions
that can be taken to prevent or overcome suboptimal decisions.
The good news is that there are several women who are positive role models. Many women have
successfully navigated the hurdles to high levels of success across many industries and functional areas.
This indicates that the trail of success has been blazed, and it can be followed by many others.
Five key mistakes that women make and actions they can take to overcome them are:
- Not having a clear focus. A lack of focus on a career plan, path or personal brand is a huge
The means of preventing this situation is to have a career plan that reflects your interests and skills. This
is the foundation of a roadmap for your career.
Second build your personal brand that is in line with your career goals. Determine what you’d like to
be known for in your organization/industry. With that in mind, deliver it with excellence in the form of
being a good leader, team member, provider of fresh ideas and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Misunderstanding the importance of the boss. This is a huge miss, regardless of whether your boss
is friend or foe, good or bad, brilliant or not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Regardless of what you think of your supervisor, they are extremely important in your future and
reputation. Their view of your performance and ability to influence others is typically stronger than that
of a subordinate. Thus, it is important to stay aligned with boss.
Additionally, be receptive to feedback or direction that your manager provides. It is worthwhile to
incorporate their feedback into your behavior or work product.
- Confusing activity with results. It is easy to mistake attending meetings, handling e-mails and
assorted other activity as a result.
Ensure you are building a resume of quantifiable accomplishments. Grow your organization’s business,
reduce costs, improve cycle time, improve profitability, etc. These are the type of results to strive for in
Performance is still rewarded in organizations. Setting and achieving important business goals is always
Another few proactive steps you can take are to employ best practices in your area of responsibility.
You can stay abreast of best practices by reading voraciously and volunteering to represent your group,
department or division at conferences.
- Suspect people skills. This can significantly limit career growth.
Continually work to develop outstanding people skills up, across and down. It is not satisfactory to be
satisfied with one or two of the three. All of your colleagues are important for long term career growth.
A means to build allies is to help others. The goal with helping others is that you create good will and
other colleagues will be favorably inclined to assist you in your efforts.
- Failing to develop effective communication skills. This can inhibit growth on several levels.
Package your communication well to highlight successes. Think in terms of your audience and their
listening patterns. Work from high level to details.
For e-mails that are sensitive, employ the “day after” rule. Give yourself some room between writing
and sending the note. This will give you an opportunity to refine as needed.
Net, while there are several career mistakes that women make, they can all be overcome and most can
also be prevented.