Nancy Fredericks pens IWLC's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com.
As dynamic women standing on the precipice of a massive shift in business, where our voices resonate as never before, it’s time to redefine this five letter word FLIRT to meet the needs of today’s new reality.
Feminine Power: We are strong “Hear Me Roar” women, who for years have had a more male-like leadership model held up as the operating standard. We’ve been weighed and graded and, often found wanting. These expectations, in many ways, alienate us from the truth, and power of who we are designed to be. Stop attempting to pack yourself into a prescribed leadership box. Stand tall, proud, and confident. You are more than enough.
Leader Heart: It is an attitude that produces outstanding results. Haven't you observed senior managers or bosses who have strong technical proficiencies, however, are weak in the soft skill arena? Conversely, haven’t you known employees where excellence shows up everywhere they are? They're infectious, and they infect others in a good way! Employees are more engaged, processes improve, and a well-spring of ideas emerge through "who they are." These forces of nature are authentic, added-value leaders because of their heart rather than their official title. And that is who you have been created to be. What's keeping you from fulfilling your destiny of being an infectious leader no matter what position you hold?
Influence Architect: Everyone has interconnecting networks. Some even boast of a wide-ranging cadre of people supporting them. Now, look around. Whether you acknowledge your role or not, you're always influencing others. Ask yourself: "Am I using my network to promote positive action or do I involve myself in spiraling downward conversations that never benefit anyone?” Whichever side of the equation you choose to reflect, it is always your choice. So, if you find yourself feeling disempowered on the sidelines with concepts you know will make a difference to your organization, flip your mental script. Be courageous and start sharing your ideas with confidence as one whose voice inspires and influences those around you.
Relationship Builder: It is a tricky business for women connecting, as, on the one hand, we own relationships. While on the other hand, women typically define relationships to include only those that have an emotional affinity component. Without question, it is fun having a friend in the office you like and respect—this is an added value to your work experience. However, you can’t bank on this relationship plan alone. If you intend to cultivate a thriving career, you also need to develop strategic and targeted relationships as high up in the organization as possible. This shift in attitude requires a comfort zone expansion to embrace partnering with those in the senior ranks, who will open doors for you to realize your full potential. And more often than not, this entails collaborating with the influential men in your company.
Team Player: Playing well with others—those you like and respect as well as those you don’t—is a dynamic aspect of rising seamlessly through the organization one challenge after another. If, as a woman, you aren’t coming to the table fully armed with all your expertise and talent prepared to play full-on, shoulder-to-shoulder with a wide diversity of people, technical abilities, and ideas, you lose, and your company loses. You irrevocably harm the future of the organization the moment you or anyone else, woman, man, Asian, Black or Mexican, silence their voice or thoughts or “Aha’s." Become the Team Player who is enthusiastically, giving your all to the company—not someone out of the game stuck on the bench!
When you learn to FLIRT using these five principles as your guiding light, your career will progress at a meteor-like speed. Hang on!