This is the first article in a series on Women In Business from Margery Miller.
I have been coaching entrepreneurs and women in business for over 35 years. I have run my own company and live the entrepreneurial life daily! There are a few things I’ve learned that might help you in your effort to create a business, grow a business or even succeed in working in a business! Women have certain wonderful qualities that can help us build great companies. But these same qualities can get in the way of our success if we don’t use them to their full advantage… So, what are they, and how do we make them work for us?
Are you a visionary? Do you have big dreams and big ideas to get you there? Visioning is highly necessary for business, but not helpful if you don’t share the vision. It works best when you include your team in fleshing it out and making it work.
When Visioning Does Not Work
You keep your vision to ourselves as if it needs protecting!
You don’t want to say too much, fearing you’ll jinx it.
The vision is not clear and you don’t want to admit that it may be more of a dream than a true vision.
How Visioning Can Work For You
Share the vision, and you can actually get more clarity!
Include your team members in the vision and ideation. They’ll probably have some good ways to achieve it.
Create a greater stake for your team. When they feel their ideas are valued, they are more likely to work with you to build the company.
Keep the visionat the forefront of everyone’s awareness. This makes it much more likely to be realized.
One of the ways women in business make a difference is when we care for others. Isn’t that a good thing, you ask? Yes, it is! Nurturing a team or mentoring someone can be a profound experience. You may feel a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose. But there is a difference between nurturing and caretaking. Caretaking is doing things for others that they can do for themselves. When you take yourself out of the caretaking role, your team has more incentive to step up and get busy.
When Nurturing Does Not Work
Clear boundaries are not set. You don’t listen carefully to your inner voice in dealing with others.
You assume that others feel the same way. Assuming others feel like you means you think they are as committed as you. This may not be true though.
You’ve taken on too much. Do you keep getting surprised when you’re the one still at it, at 10 pm, and they’ve all gone home? If you are making assumptions about others, they are probably making assumptions about you — “She’ll take care of it, she always does.”
How Nurturing Can Work For You
Set clear expectations and communicate early and often. That means company meetings, one-on-one chats, setting the tone for what you want to happen. Discuss with your team what you see needs to be done. Ask them where they see themselves, now and in the future, and then make sure that they understand what is expected of them.
Stop making it okay when someone doesn’t follow through! When you find yourself picking up the pieces for others, making allowances for them because their stories are compelling, then you are overusing a quality that needs to be put in check.
Include yourself in the equation. As you get better about including others in the conversation, sharing ideas, asking for what you want and generally taking care of yourself others will join you. People start assuming less and doing more to keep up their end.
Expect more and show that you are confident in them! Surprisingly, when you expect more of them, they expect more of themselves. This cuts down on negative employee behavior like gossiping and back-stabbing, taking things from the office, and most surprising: when people love their jobs, they tend to stay with you, even if others offer them more money!
A wonderful quality, for women in business to possess, unless it is misplaced! Too much loyalty can give you blind spots and you may not see signs customers, clients or even your own team may be giving you. But loyalty can be an asset in the workplace. It can help create a true team!
When Loyalty Does Not Work
Customers or clients can be taken for granted because you stop reading the signs. You may assume that they will stay with you. If you pay close attention, you may see that they are shopping around for better deals, or they may not even have the same loyalty for you.
You are taken for granted. Are the extra things you are being asked to do are necessary to keep customers or clients happy? Or are you leaving your own needs out of the picture?
You may have allegiance to certain suppliers and not question whether that loyalty is well-founded. Are they still giving you the best prices? Or are you over-spending and under-receiving? Are you truly being taken care of in a way that truly works for you and your business?
Pay attention and notice when the relationship starts to change, even in subtle ways. Ask more questions, look for what you can do to keep things current and working for all parties.
Listen to your employees. They often have insights or observed things, either in the industry or when working with customers, clients or suppliers that you may not be aware of.
Build confidence and pull your team together. When everyone in the company is on the watch for changes, it pulls the team together and builds confidence.
How do you recognize when you are in your own way and how do you get out of the way? For women in business, it’s important to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses. Having frank discussions with ourselves allows us to grow and succeed. The last thing you want is to hold yourself back from your fullest potential!
This article is the first in a series to help you re-think, re-evaluate and re-vision your business life. If you have particular questions you would like to address, please email them to: [email protected], and I will answer them throughout the series. And don’t worry about what kind of questions you have, they’re all valuable, and so are YOU!