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I was fortunate to have started my career in the Automotive Industry. It was a great training ground for me; a place where I could learn the details required to be successful in my selected career, and to establish my leadership style. As a fresh-faced new hire, in one of the toughest industries in business, I began to see that a lot of what came naturally to me, as I interacted with others, was sometimes viewed as not being tough enough. I even had one Sr. Leader tell me that I focused too much on my people. Huh?
My natural leadership style was not common. I was different, and it didn't take people long to recognize it. Most of the female leaders were tough, pounded on the table and acted a lot like their male counterparts. I thought to myself, "Sonia, you are not going to last long here if these behaviors are the only ones that are rewarded. I had desires of becoming a Vice-President before the age of 40. I liked to win! I was competitive, but in a very different way than what I observed. I was particularly disturbed as I continued my corporate career at two additional multinational companies. Hmm, I saw some of the same behaviors. What’s going on here? How is it that women were not sharing information, not supporting each other, not lifting as they climbed? I saw a very different dynamic among men. Even if they didn’t like each other, they still supported each other. They helped each other, they shared information, they even banded together for their common good. Why didn’t women do the same? What’s going on? I thought to myself that we needed an intervention.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey conducted in 2015, in America, women held 51.5% of management, professional and related positions. However, they only held 20 roles (4%) at the CEO level. My belief is that women can change this reality…if they wanted to. You may be contributing to the lack of progress of women in the workplace and not even know it. In some instances, because of our desire to compete, instead of collaborate, we intentionally do not extend our hearts and hands. I believe that often we just aren’t fully aware of how our actions manifest themselves for our “Sisters” in the workplace. Here are 3 ways you may be undermining your female colleagues:
- You have the opportunity to advocate for a female direct report, but elect not to do it.
- You continue to perpetuate the old tapes about female colleagues
- You do not mentor or sponsor female colleagues, to ensure that they get the right experiences and roles to progress in the company.
As I launched my intervention, which I call The Sister Accord, I knew that a key part of my focus was to help girls and women understand that a mindset shift is necessary in order for us to fully love ourselves and then see other females as an extension of ourselves. You must be intentional in having great relationships with other females. Society and media often says that we must take each other out in order to win. I say, mean girls grow up to be mean women if there is no intervention. The Sister Accord is the intervention. Learning to fully love yourself and extending that love to your sisters is priceless! It’s the key to living a fulfilled life. Sisterhood in the workplace can elevate morale and profitability! Decide today that you will be the change that you want to see. Your daughters (and sons) will thank you!
Sonia Jackson Myles
Founder & CEO, The Sister Accord LLC