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Women and Office Politics – 10 Ways to Increase Your Power

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 9/12/16 8:00 AM
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About 7 years ago, I wrote a blog entitled, “The Game of Office Politics – Do you know how to play?" In it, I referenced a book by Dr. Lois Frankel called, “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers.” In her book, Dr. Frankel suggests that women work too hard but don’t get promoted, purely because of that hard work. What else are we guilty of? We make our offices too girly and we don’t capitalize on work relationships. After all this time, I wondered, “Has anything changed?” Do women hold more leadership positions than before? Are we really breaking that glass ceiling and getting the corner office? 


Well, after reading “Lean In,” by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO at Facebook, I’m not sure anything has changed. In her book, Sandberg discusses the many reasons why women hold themselves back in their careers.


She explains that women are still more reluctant to apply for promotions, even when deserved, because of “The Tiara Syndrome”—where women expect that if they keep doing their job well, someone will notice and place a tiara on their head. I guess we can thank Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and hundreds of other princess stories for that one!


She also writes about her time at Google. How she hired 4,000 employees and it was the men who reached for opportunities more quickly than women. According to Sandberg, women still suffer from something called the “Impostor Syndrome,” or “Feeling Like a Fraud,” meaning they don’t feel worthy of recognition. They, in fact, feel the opposite. They feel undeserving, guilty, and as if a mistake has been made. She goes on to quote Alice Walker who says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”


Recently, I had an opportunity to teach our How to Influence People and Events workshop to a group of five women. Before it started, I thought about the subject-matter, the audience and what I had recently read. I thought, “What a perfect time to bring up some of these challenges.”


We were able to have some very meaningful and enlightening discussions about our challenges and successes in the workplace. I am honored that the group felt so comfortable to share such private information in our three days together. It was a life-changing experience.


How ironic that we discuss our “Power” in this course. Specifically, the differences between Earned and Given Power and how you can increase your power base in nine different areas. You can increase your power by trying the following strategies:

1.  Ask to work on important projects.

2.  Prove you can meet deadlines.

3.  Demonstrate you are able to create solutions.

4.  Write a memo to your supervisor on processes that could be simplified or improved.

5.  Volunteer to help others and work collaboratively.

6.  Share ideas and best practices.

7.  Increase your productivity.

8.  Work extra hours.

9.  Look for possibilities to move to a more visible department.

10.  Take responsibility for your actions.


On a positive note, women’s voices are being heard and we are breaking that glass ceiling. Of course, how timely that Hillary Clinton recently broke the ultimate glass ceiling by becoming the first woman nominated by a major political party to run for the position of President of the United States!


So, here’s a big thank you to the five women in class with me, Dr. Lois Frankel, Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton, and all the inspirational women out there. Let’s realize our power and create an environment where anything is possible for all women.


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Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

Tags: job performance, influencing skills

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