Interview with Dr. Lois Frankel: The Unconscious Mistakes Women Make (Podcast #38)
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Lois Frankel, one of my favorite career authors, who just came out with the latest edition of her book that is must-read – Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.
Dr. Lois P. Frankel is President of Corporate Coaching International. She is a bestselling author, executive coach, and an internationally-recognized expert in the field of leadership development for women.   She has appeared on Larry King Live, The Today Show, CNBC, and PBS to discuss her New York Times bestselling books, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich, and Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It.  Her other books include See Jane Lead and Stop Sabotaging Your Career.  

Here are some highlights from the Dr. Lois Frankel interview:

What are some of the unconscious mistakes that women make in their careers?

1) Avoiding office politics – Women see politics as something to be avoided at all costs. Replace the word “politics” with “relationships” because that is all politics are, they are the business of relationships. Women are great at building relationships, but they’re not so good at leveraging them because they think that the relationship will be inauthentic.
2) Making Miracles – I define a miracle as getting something done with less money, fewer resources, and in less time as humanly possible. Women need to understand that miracle workers get canonized; they don’t get recognized. Every workplace has a baseline for hard work. You have to work up to that baseline or you are going to get called out. If you go over the baseline consistently, it doesn’t contribute to your career because you just get more work to do. One way to handle this is to learn to manage other people’s expectations.
3) Apologizing too much – Women apologize far more than men. A woman can be given wrong directions, and the boss says “This is not what I wanted” and then the woman will say, “Oh I’m sorry.” As soon as you apologize like that, you really diminish your credibility and your professionalism. Save the “apologizing” for HUGE mistakes. For the smaller things, all you have to say is, “I didn’t understand that’s what you wanted. Why don’t you clarify this point and I’ll go forward and do it exactly how you want?”  It’s not about apologizing; it’s about making good of the situation. It is about putting a spin on it.

Why is being nice at work not sufficient for success, and what can we do about it?

Nice is necessary for success but it’s not sufficient. When I talk about nice girls not getting the corner office, the emphasis is on girl. You can’t act like the nice little girl you were taught to be in childhood and expect to achieve your adult goals. It’s not going to work. These are the messages we receive when we are young girls: be kind, be helpful, be sweet, smile – if you do these exclusively, you won’t get the corner office. But, you have to do some of those because they do contribute to nice.
People want to be around and promote people who are nice. But successful women are not just nice; they balance nice with being direct and straightforward. They have difficult conversations and take risks. So it’s really about finding the balance.
Women need to step into their womanhood. A woman has the right to ask for what she wants or be direct and straightforward.
There are different rules for women and men in society. In the professional world, we don’t like men who act like women. And we don’t like women who act like men. You can’t act like a man and be successful. The secret is that in our society we like women to be inclusive. We like to think they care about what other people think (even if you don’t).   So you can be just direct and straightforward as a man. But, what you need to do is to add an inclusive tagline to your communication. After you give your idea, ask the other person what they thought of your idea.
If you want to be seen as someone who should be taken seriously, be among the first 2 or 3 people to speak on any meeting. Early speakers are seen as more self-confident than later speakers.

Thanks, Lois!

Hi, I'm Anna!

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