After last week’s presidential election, many of us are questioning what it will take for women to finally shatter the big glass ceiling. Is there something we are missing – something we aren’t doing or doing wrong?
The answer is – Yes.
We are too focused on motivating, inspiring and encouraging. And not focused enough on achieving.
Men climb the ladder to success starting at the bottom as a Doer. When I began my career, this is the secret that was shared with me – I was told what types of jobs and roles to go for. And which ones were dead-ends.
As Doers, our jobs are directly involved in producing our workplace’s tangible products and services. These jobs are traditionally male – they develop, plan, sell and execute the workplace’s products and services. There is direct one-on-one interaction with the product or service. This interaction allows Doers to directly correlate their actions to results. They get to say those very important words:
“This is what I made happen!”
When we create results, we transform ourselves from Doers to Achievers.
Achievers are the ones who climb the corporate ladder and create a merit-based workplace.
Being an Achiever levels the playing field to help women overcome any gender-biases that may exist. When we play the Achiever card, we literally say “You can go with his performance or you can go with mine.” Then we give them the look that says “Do you really want to risk your career and bonus with him?”
Because our workplaces are performance driven, they tend to go with the best Achievers. Therefore, achievements give us power.
To me, this presidential election drove this point home. Voters wanted change, they wanted achievements so the best Achiever won.
But wait – Trump won. Wasn’t Hillary the most qualified person to ever run for President?!
This is the important distinction we need to make. Qualifications aren’t achievements.
There is no doubt that Hillary prepared to be President. However there was a hole in her preparation – she wasn’t the traditional workplace Doer who worked her way up based upon the merit of her achievements. Ironically, she took a very traditional path – she spring-boarded off of her husband’s political success to in order to launch her own political career.
Historically, this is very acceptable. Many of the first female leaders came into their positions because their husbands or fathers were leaders. Widows filled their husband’s vacant positions – 47 women have filled their husband’s Congressional seat and many of the early female governors came to office following their husband’s death. The world’s first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon, took over her husband’s seat after he was assassinated. Indira Gandhi built her political career using her father’s legacy. So there is ample precedent for Hillary to launch her career from her husband’s.
Except this is America. The land of Doers and Achievers. The land of the self-made man…and the self-made woman. We are wary of people who short-cut their way to the top – we expect them to earn it. So anyone who takes the short-cut, better produce a host of achievements.
This included Hillary.
She ran for the NY Senate seat vacated by longtime Democrat Sen. Moynihan at the urging of the Democratic establishment. They were interested in her because of her high profile, not because she had a long list of achievements in NY state government.
When she ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential race, she had to make it on her own merit. To be honest, I don’t think in 2008 America was fully ready for a female president. However I still think she could have gotten the nomination if she had a long impressive resume of achievements. She could of played the Achiever card and told Obama he was still wet behind the ears and needed to go back to the Senate and accomplish something before he thought about being President.
Following the 2008 election, Hillary became Secretary of State, but again, not because she had great international experience and achievements. It was preparation for the 2016 presidential race where yet again, the system/ the establishment decided she would be the 2016 Democratic nominee.
By 2016 Hillary had all of the qualifications, but did she have a resume full of achievements to go with it?
I did a google search on Hillary’s accomplishments and made a list of them. Then I looked at them as a manager who was hiring someone and applied the infamous “so what” test. (This is when you read the accomplishment and then ask “so what?”)
- Fought for children and families. So what? (What did you accomplish? What did you change?)
- Told the world that “Women’s rights are human rights.” (What did you do next? What countries changed their laws as a result of your efforts?)
- Fought for Healthcare Reform as First Lady. (It failed.)
- Worked with Congress to pass Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Good accomplishment! But that was 25 years ago. How did you capitalize on to improve other programs for families and children?)
- Helped get 9/11 responders the healthcare they needed. (Helped. As NY Senator you should have “led the effort.”)
- Helped expand veteran benefits for National Guard and reservists. (Again, helped – not “led the effort.”)
- Negotiated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. That year was the most peaceful in Israel in years. (Good accomplishment! Saved lives!)
- Forced Iran back to the negotiating table and temporarily halted its nuclear enrichment program. Helped negotiated tough sanctions against Iran. (Good! But again, helped – not led.)
- Was present in the situation room when Asama Bin Laden was killed. (So were the fly on the wall and the mouse in the corner. What was your contribution to getting Bin Laden? )
- Convinced President Obama to use military intervention in Libya. (One word – Benghazi)
I was surprised how much the word “helped” was used to describe Hillary’s accomplishments. I don’t know if the people writing the articles used “helped” to convey a team effort or because she really had a secondary role , but I guarantee you, that if it this was a man, “led” or “lead” would be used a lot more. There would be a direct connection between his actions and results – there would be no doubt he made it happen.
There are no short-cuts to real success for anyone because even if you take the short-cut up the ladder, you still have to achieve.
For most of us, there are no short-cuts. We have to become skilled Doers who get things done, make things happen and get results. Our resumes have to read as a list of our accomplishments:
- Led marketing campaign and secured $250 million in new contracts, raising annual revenue by 85% for 4 years.
- Reduced safety lost time incident rate from 1.4 to 0.8 in 2 years.
- Reduced quality defects from 10 per unit in 0.8 in 6 months.
- Converted a projected $7 million loss into a $3.2 million profit in 10 months.
- Reduced employee turnover from 22.4% per year to 12.1% per year in 2 years.
- Doubled the number of women in management positions over a 3 year period.
Creating results is how we get seen as Achievers and Leaders. This is how we get people to support and promote us. We always have to remember that our workplaces must perform, they must produce so they look for Achievers and Leaders.
And we can’t be shy about touting our achievements. If we are, then we miss out on the best part – achievements make us and our team feel good about who we are! Achievements motivate, inspire and challenge us to grow and to reach for even greater achievements. They create the enthusiasm we need to aspire to be our greatest selves.
Being an Achiever working with a team of Achievers is one of the best workplace experiences we can have.
When we are ready, women will break through every glass ceiling. But it won’t be one selected woman doing it for us. That’s not our way. We will do it together as a group of highly qualified Achievers and Leaders.
Are you ready to join that group of women?
Explore my website to learn more about HOW to empower yourself to lead the male-dominated workplace.
Empowered Women Play the Achiever Card, Not the Woman Card
Empower Yourself – Think outside the male-dominated workplace box
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