Women make up nearly 51 percent of the US population, earn the majority of college degrees, and hold 50 percent of all middle management jobs. However, when it comes to business leadership, women are still grossly underrepresented. If you are a female looking to get ahead and build your leadership career, here are three ways you can get ahead.
1. Communicate Your Goals Regularly
As a woman, you have to control your own career narrative. Unfortunately, stereotypes about female priorities can cause you to miss out on opportunities to advance. People can often assume that women would prefer to focus on family than growing their careers.
That’s why it is so important to communicate your goals with your bosses proactively. Ask for new challenges and responsibilities and take control over your career trajectory. By communicating and stepping up, it becomes clear what you want from your job, and no one can make false assumptions or generate misconceptions about your priorities.
2. Focus on Finding Champions Rather than Mentors
Mentors are essential for your career growth, but people tend to seek out similar mentors. That means men tend to mentor men, women tend to mentor women, etc. While you should have a mentor, you should also open yourself up to building professional relationships with people who will be your champions. Champions can be current bosses, former bosses, advisors, teachers, colleagues, etc. They may be men or women, old or young, from a similar background or a completely different background.
Make sure to follow up with everyone who helps you along the way. This allows you to maintain relationships, build your network, and it shows that you value the people who were there to help give you a boost.
3. Create Opportunities For Others
Networking is not just essential for making connections with potential clients, it’s also essential for your career. However, you need to approach it in the right way. Most people make the mistake of networking with their self-interest in mind, forgetting that networking is a two-way street and that you must also create opportunities for others.
Whether you’re reaching out to connections online or you are engaging in face-to-face networking, think of ways you can help other women and men with their careers. Can you make an introduction? Can you mentor or role model for others? Offer advice? Can you act as a champion for this person, or do you know someone who can?
When you create opportunities for others, you are also creating opportunities to position yourself as a leader in your industry. You will build a reputation as someone who is willing to champion for others and as someone people can learn from. This will ultimately help you open new doors in your career.
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