I am well aware that I am an anomaly. I am proud of being an employee that is not seen as the norm. I don't want to be like everyone else and I also naturally have no idea how to be anything other than who I am. It is hard for me to actually try and be "normal." My CEO, Brian Halligan tells me that a lot.
Being called an anomaly is a good thing. I know that I am different. I know that I am not the typical employee. I know that I deviate from the norm. That is okay with me. People make that clear to me everyday in little ways. They say things like this to me:
I get comments like this all the time while doing my job each day. I usually laugh and say what do you mean? I am just doing my job. I am just telling them the truth and telling them what I think. I say what I think, I give advice that I think is right for the company I am working with. I am not going to sit back, I always tell the truth and I am passionate about helping people. Those feelings and qualities come out in my work. Whatever way they come out is fine with me, even if they get me comments like that. :)
It got me wondering why? People always ask me, how I got good at my job and how can I do so much in one day. The answer to that has always been, "I am just doing my job."
I told my SVP of Sales, Hunter the other day that I don't consider hitting quota doing a good job. Hitting my quota each month is my job. If I am not doing that then I am not a good employee. If I don't go over my quota, then I personally don't feel like I am doing a good job at my job.
So, what makes me different and how does that have to do with getting more women into leadership roles?
I speak up at work. When I believe in something I get heated about it and want to make a change. I don't think every woman or man does that. I think those qualities of noticing things that need fixing and working on those problems is something that creates leadership. If more women in everyday jobs (not management) spoke up and made little differences in the role and the work around them, women would naturally start to get more attention in the company.
There are small ways that women can make these kinds of changes and start to speak up more to show their skills.
- If you see something wrong or see something that you think needs to be changed, go do it. Make a difference. Make your case, speak up about it and try to change and fix that problem. Prove that what you fixed works better than what you were doing before. That might make a trickle into other people in your organization and then management will see that you are good at figuring things out. That will show management that you are a leader and that you take action when you see something is not working the right way.
- Acceptable behavior of employees in general is typically something like, GET YOUR JOB DONE and DO IT WELL. So people who on the daily job doing the duties they need to do to do their job well might not have time or want to do other things outside of that core role. So what if someone spent time on something else each day? They might get told to not do that and that they need to focus on their real job. Well, I think that is wrong. Everyone should be given some time to work on something they are passionate about that could help improve a function in a company. Allow your employees to work on problems that they feel passionate about. If this employee is hitting their goals and doing a great job, allow them to work on other things sometimes and don't breathe down her neck about it. Trust that what she is doing will help the overall organization and let her prove that to you.
- Navigating up is harder for women than it is for men. I think people make assumptions about women all the time in what they want to do. Men in leadership and at the VP level should look out for women in their organization that are rocking it and try to help them navigate up. We don't have all the answers and need some pushing. If you see us doing well at something push that woman a bit and get her to do more.
Here are some ways that I have seen that I can make a difference on my job and show leadership in little ways.
- Do you have a centralized Wiki? If you don't have one try and get one in place at your company. It is a great way to put your ideas out there and have other people in your company read what you have to say and learn about what you work on. People will see what you are doing and think about it next time a discussion comes up about something like that.
- Put yourself out there. Attend events and talk to everyone. Get to know people every single day. Be outgoing and helpful.
- If you notice something that you think could help someone else reach out to that person and explain why you think you can help them.
- Create relationships with people and do it the right way by providing good, valuable feedback with data.
- Take charge of your own job. Become really, really good at one thing in your role. Be known for something in your organization. Don't just be a sales rep. Be a specific kind of sales rep that people know you are. Be someone that people will remember. Teach people around you about that one thing that you are really, really good at.
How do you think women can work their way up to being seen as a leader in their organization? What are some of the ways that you see women in your company being a leader even if they are not a VP, Director or a Manager?