Very few people doubt the corporate deck is stacked against women to some degree. Still, you can sabotage your own career through errors made in the name of doing well or doing more.
Here are nine career stoppers that can prevent you from advancing in your career. Do any of them figure into your modus operandi?
1. Taking Care of Others and Forgetting About Yourself
Even though females are socialized to be caretakers, if you say yes to everything at work, you'll end up giving it all away and won't have time left to do the job at hand. You'll also undermine the efficacy of others on your team.
2. Thinking of Yourself and Not Others
This is the other side of the coin. If you overcorrect and think only of yourself, then you will probably manage autocratically and have a hard time keeping a team working well together. A career is best-lived at the point of creative tension between these two pulls.
3. Waiting for Permission
Far too many women wait around for an approving nod before making a move in their careers. These same women also end up not being promoted or taken seriously enough, because they seem to lack confidence and assertiveness. Obedience will forever keep you in the middle of the pack.
4. Being Too Busy to Take Care of Your Health
Would a racecar driver start a race with low-octane fuel? Every time you start a day with less than the right amount of sleep, pump empty calories into your body or let your body waste away a little more for lack of exercise, you're compromising your ability to think well and work most productively. An internal whistle blows after eight hours of output, telling all your systems to work with less energy and effectiveness. By working too long without recharging your battery, you destroy your ability to do your best work.
5. Spending More Than You Can Pay For
Debt is like excess weight: It's easy to put on and nearly impossible to take off. Being in debt saps your sense of power and, more often than not, keeps you locked into jobs you don't like just to pay your bills. And when you don't really like your job, you can be sure you're not going to do the best work there.
6. Having a Broad Vision Without Focusing on Implementation
Women are often expansive, idealistic thinkers, very good at the big picture and skilled multitaskers. The problem is that they often imagine they can attend to more than is humanly possible and end up trying to do too much at once. The result is lack of focus and jobs done "well enough" but never wonderfully well.
7. Assuming You'll Be Rewarded for a Job Well Done
This is the quintessential female career error: good-girl syndrome. Doing a good job is only the beginning; letting the right people know about what you've done in a way they'll respect is an art form unto itself. If you don't know how to practice it, today is the time to start.
Information is power in organizational life, and discovering or sharing scintillating information about others can make you feel powerful. But gossiping almost always undermines your perceived integrity and must be avoided at all costs.
9. Flirting with Men to Get Your Way
This is a strategy that also seems to come naturally, and the short-term gains can be heady. It always comes back to haunt you in the end, however. Get promoted on the quality of your ideas, hard work and ability to enable teams to work together. Leave your other moves to the hours outside of work.