Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Are you a Diva at work?

Have you read this article in the The Atlantic about the importance confidence has in career advancement, in particlue how it effects the way men and women advance? It was an eye-opening article. I don't tend to like generalizations, especially when it comes to gender. But this article has enough statistics and real-life anecdotes that it's something to think about. And it has me remembering a conversation I recently had with a good friend.

I met me friend Jen when we were colleagues starting out our careers as the same company. I was an executive assistant, she was a designer. We've both changed jobs a couple of times since we worked together, but have stayed in touch. She is actually now in New York at a successful digital agency and she recently was promoted to Creative Director (yeah Jen!). She came to LA for a visit a few weeks ago to escape the perpetual NYC winter and I got to hear more about how her job was going. I was both shocked and impressed.

Basically, Jen is a total diva at work. She was always someone who strongly believed in her point of view and would fight for what she thought is right. And it sounds like she has really found a way to show that confidence at her current job. She wanted to become a Creative Director, she set her sights on it, and she achieved it! She was open with her bosses about what she wanted. She made choices along the way to demonstrate her abilities. But most importantly,  she felt she really deserved it. And the evidence does show that confidence is a large part of advancing at work. How did she show that confidence? She wasn't afraid to go into situations, even new ones where maybe she wasn't the most experienced, and take charge. She is not afraid to speak up and have a voice. She told me at one point during a client meeting she became frustrated, got up, threw a notebook, and left in the middle of the meeting! That's pretty extreme behavior but I'm guessing she did get her point across. I'm sure most companies would not appreciate that kind of display, but she knows that her company values that sort of rock-star behavior. And it clearly has paid off for her.

While I know I can't pull those kind of diva moves at my company, I've been trying to reflect on how I come off in my job. I'm in a leadership position so it is important for me to exude confidence. And I do have confidence. But I think is important to check-in on how my personality could be hiding some of that to my colleagues.

Anyone else struggle with confidence in their work? What about the common imposter syndrom?

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