What successful women do that hold them back in their career – and what they should do instead

woman with binocular

I meet lots of women who worked very hard after their university degree to get to the success they had in mind or to the position they always wanted. After 10 years of hard work they achieved this position and now what? What is next? They are successful because of the focus they have had on building their expertise, but know the same focus is holding them back to become even more successful and to grow further into leadership.

 When you ask a woman and a man with the same qualifications to apply for a new position, they will respond differently. The woman is thinking about taking an extra class on the content first to make sure she will be fully informed and be ready for the position. The man probably takes on the job straight away and will think about taking an extra class later on.

 What is holding women back from growth is not their competence, knowledge nor their lack of ambition, but the wrong focus. They keep on developing themselves in the way they have done before and what made them successful at first. Focusing on the content doesn’t bring them further.

Instead they should develop their leadership skills and take practical steps.

 Work on self

First of all start working on yourself. The best leaders do make time to reflect on themselves, their leadership style, where they are and where they want to go. Unfortunately most people don’t take time for it because they are too busy putting out fires. If you know your strengths and if you have set your own directions, you can start making it visible to others.

 Take practical steps

In my book ‘Topvrouw in 7 stappen’, you can read the 7 practical steps you can take to get to a top position. Work on visibility, your communication with others to have impact and be there where you can influence decision making. Read the interviews with different topwomen to learn from the choices they make that made them successful. You need perseverance to get to the top, but think of the reward: Having influence and contribute to the purpose of your company.

 Leading others

When you know yourself you can start leading others. Learn about the team and organisational dynamics and how to influence. Gain in depth insights about your effectiveness in teams.

 Building a network with future leaders

Building your network with leaders from other companies helps you to get the external perspective. This will help you to be creative and to develop strategic and transformational thinking.  This is key in the digital world we face today.

 In short, make a switch from increasing your knowledge to developing leadership skills and taking practical steps to realise your future ambitions. According to Marshall Goldsmith: ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’. If you want to learn more about the practical steps to take that could bring you further, please read my book Topvrouw in 7 stappen. Or learn more about our in-depth programme Advancing Women in Leadership for senior female executives to help you prepare for and realise your future ambitions.  

author: Annette Onrust

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