I love this saying that came up recently in one of my entrepreneur circles…

“If you can’t get a seat at the table, build your own f**king table!”

You might be thinking, ‘what’s that all about?’ I’ll explain. One of the many challenges I see women facing in business, professionally and in their personal lives, is that they don’t get taken seriously. They lack credibility. And it’s a damn shame because in the main, these women are true experts, they have a zone of genius that would add a lot of value and bring something to the party that’s actually missing.

There are many reasons for this and multiple factors that influence it. Firstly, there’s some self-limiting beliefs going on for these women, a smidge (or bucket loads in some cases) of Impostor Syndrome. But aside from that, there’s more and it’ deeper. For many, I see them trying to break the ‘boys club’ mentality without success (and there are some females in that group occasionally, alpha females of course – they’ve already succeeded in getting their seat because they behaved like the men… note to self – wrong strategy). The reason? They move to a position of passive aggressive – becoming sarcastic, flippant, dismissive. They see it as ‘rising above the banter’ but they lack self-awareness in how they are being perceived. Result? Credibility zero. The alternative is that they join the alpha females and go ‘all in’ on being aggressive, resigning themselves to becoming a less than true and authentic version of themselves that everyone can see through, not to mention alienates others who could be their biggest cheerleaders. Worst of all – they’re really unhappy, unfulfilled and very rarely achieve the success they wanted.

So, what’s the answer? Well, if you’re one of these women here’s the secret sauce that will change things for the better, for good.

  1. Use what your mama gave you – Strong, innate, female characteristics that you possess will propel you immensely at this point so don’t shy away from them. Use them to your advantage. The things I’m talking about here are your emotional intelligence, your intuition, your ability to be wholly present and the behaviours of high trust that come so naturally to you. Don’t hide these away as if you’re embarrassed or shameful about them. Let them shine!
  2. Surround yourself with great people – You don’t need to ‘know’ everything. Knowledge is no longer power, that power now belongs to Google. Our power lies in our character. It’s personal power as opposed to positional power. Build a team of amazing people around you. Ones that mitigate your gaps or weaknesses so you can focus on capitalising on your strengths. Ensure that team is diverse, that’s where innovation resides. Leaders who build clones of themselves and surround themselves with ‘Yes’ people eventually become like The Emperors New Clothes! In a team built upon diversity, there is friction and chaos, yes. But go back to science, we’re all made of the same stuff, molecules and atoms that collide and chemically react to create something new. The constant jostling and vibrating of these particles give us heat, light, and life.
  3. Sharpen your saw – one of the wonderful Mr Covey’s habits! Keep learning and developing. (Caveat – watch out for becoming a serial course goer. That is not the same thing. Ensure you move from ‘motion’ to ‘action’. That means working more on the implementation and application of new skills than the absorption of overloading content that just sits in a filing cabinet in your brain gathering dust). What puts you ahead of the game? Bridging the Knowing-Doing gap. Many people have been on all the courses and learnt all the stuff. They know it. All of it. They can regurgitate it reasonably well if you ask them. But do they do it? Practice it day in, day out? Do they sh!te. The skills I highly recommend are influencing and of course, assertiveness (both of which I can help you out with).
  4. Be frank with your feedback – No matter how senior in an organisation I explore, very few people are really good at giving high quality feedback. Firstly, they give it with wonky intent. Feedback should be given with super, squeaky clean intent – giving it for the benefit of the other person in a quest to help them get better and/or endorse their strengths to motivate them to do more of it, NOT to get something off your chest because they’ve pis*ed you off or given your ego a bit of a dent. Ensure you feedback at behavioural level, not at identity – it should not be a character assassination. You should ensure that you articulate that behaviour very specifically along with the impact it had. Then remember, this is a two-way conversation. Now would be a good time to listen, you might learn something and then both of you can make any conscious choices you wish (or not as the case may be) to do more of or do differently to get the result or outcome you desire.
  5. Snowflake to Sassy – Sadly, many of the women I meet in these circumstances have a stab at challenging their position and boosting their credibility but when it doesn’t work, they throw the towel in. Being assertive and to ‘Woman Up’ involves being tenacious, persevering and having some grit. Dig deep. Go again. Tweak your approach. Remember, Einstein defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result but he didn’t mean give up if the first attempt didn’t work. I’ll go back to the quote at the beginning of this blog…. “If you can’t get a seat at the table, build your own f**king table”.

If building your credibility or authority is on your agenda, objectives, goals or aspirations then my 8-week programme, Woman Up, would be perfect for you. You can find out more HERE.