6 Ways Women Lose Power—and How They Can Stop
We love looking to powerful women for career inspiration. But oftentimes we don’t take enough time to think about how we can increase (or maintain) our own power in the workplace. All aspiring leaders should take the time to analyze their influence on those around them and the impact they have on their company’s business.
Once you understand your value, you’ll be more likely to protect it. A lot of the time, women weaken their reputation and sabotage their success, without even knowing that we’re doing it. Scroll through to read how we’re unknowingly giving our power away—and how to stop it.
Women have a tendency to add the word just where it doesn’t belong. Saying “I just want to know” or “I’m just checking to see” causes others in the workplace to perceive you as less powerful. According to an article in The Harvard Business Review, people should always strive to replace meaningless words with stronger ones. For example, replace I think or I feel with I’m confident or I expect.
Have you ever counted the number of times you say “sorry” in one day? It’s likely a frighteningly large amount. The word might slip out when someone crowds your space at the gym, when you get cut in line, or in any other incident when you are certainly not at fault. But the worst place to say unnecessary sorrys is the office. According to Forbes, “Saying you’re sorry unnecessarily puts you in a subservient position.” When you over-apologize, you give away your power.
Have you ever discussed an idea with your boss or a colleague and then sat silently in a meeting as your work confidant took credit for the idea? When this happens, don’t be afraid to take back the credit by saying something like “Thank you for bringing up this idea that I proposed earlier.” It’s not passive aggressive; it’s a smart tactic to preserve your reputation.
We often have a discomfort surrounding self-promotion; this habit causes us to rely on others to recognize our hard work and strong performance. But the truth is no one cares about your career as much as you do. So if you’re not your own strongest advocate, you’re at a serious disadvantage. When we fail to demonstrate our value to others, we present ourselves as less valuable. Understand your own contribution to positive business outcomes. This will enable you to excel.
We are often too quick to offer our help and hesitant to request help from others. According to Forbes, “Power comes from knowing the relationship between how we do our work and positive business outcomes, our value proposition. There is power in using influence to build mutually beneficial relationships in our industry.” If you don’t leverage your impact and relationships, both of which you’ve worked hard to build, then you’re losing power. “There is power in asking for what we want and need.”
Women are often expected to be nice in the workplace. But if you spend your energy trying to be liked as opposed to trying to be effective, you’re not going to build a powerful reputation. According to Forbes, “If our primary focus is to be liked, we will not likely be viewed as a leader. We risk being seen as a doormat who waffles in our opinions because we are primarily seeking approval from others.” Think of Steve Jobs. Was he liked by all? No. Was he a powerful leader? Absolutely.
Head over to Forbes to read more ways we let power slip away.
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Are you giving away your power unintentionally? How do you assert your power in the workplace? Share with us in the comments.