Successful Women Help Other Women Get Ahead
Here are nine ways that women can offer one another support.
Posted July 30, 2018
There’s a saying that reminds us, “Go alone if you want to go fast, go together if you want to go far.”
Unfortunately, some women feel that when it comes to getting ahead on-the-job, "going together" isn’t likely going to happen because too many other women choose to “go fast” and leave their female colleagues behind.
In a world that continues to generate divisions and divides between privilege, reward, and opportunities based on difference, it will be difficult for any group to succeed as a whole when token members are able to push to the top and have their singular presence lauded as examples of equity or fairness. Women feel that once other women make it to the top, they are so fearful of losing their positions that they are less likely to offer other women their support any longer.
So, what are women seeking from those who stand beside them and ahead of them in the world of work?
It's All About Encouragement
Women want to be supported in word and deed by their colleagues and the women who are standing at the top of the corporate ladder. Success is always sweeter when it’s shared with others; encouragement keeps us moving forward and lets us know that others believe in us as much as (or more than) we believe in ourselves.
Let Other Women Join the Team
Women who view every other woman’s actions as a threat create an atmosphere charged with negative competition. The fear that someone else is going to take what is due to you can create a toxic environment for those who work with or around you. Believe enough in yourself that you do not have to view every other person as a competitor for your position.
Respect Differences and Acknowledge the Value They Bring
Recognize that there’s no longer a single “success mold” through which everyone must be processed. The world is a diverse community and the greater the diversity among top level decision-makers, the more successful a team will be in whatever endeavor it pursues.
Empower Your Colleagues
Women’s identities are created through connection and relationship. When you instill fear or insecurity in your teammates, you are creating an identity that is built on others’ negativity. This is not a healthy way to grow yourself or your scope of professional power. Share the sense of strength you hold and build up the people that you count on to make you look good. When you belittle another, you are minimizing the standing that you yourself can hold. Measure your value by the strength of your team, not by the power discrepancy you insert.
Shaming and Slamming Others Will Eventually Shame You
Don’t shame women who have had to rely on different means of professional or personal development. We typically do what we have to do to move forward and we may make choices that would not be made if we were afforded other opportunities. Give others the benefit of the doubt until there’s reason to believe that the past has become the present.
Don’t Use Other Women to Get Ahead; Be the Leader Who Helps Other Women Get Ahead
Value the women with whom you interact and look for ways to use your own power to strengthen the team, not ways to use the team to build up your reputation at the expense of theirs.
Don’t Side with the System of Inequality
Too often, women are willing to scratch and claw their way to the top and crow about their gendered success, yet isolate themselves from other women by joining in solidarity with the men at the top. Be willing to crack open the divide between groups. Too often, rather than recognize the opportunity that her presence at the top has created, women may assume that they have met the “quota” and believe that they have taken up all of the metaphorical room at the top that women can possess.
Women should intentionally carve out their own success by blazing a trail that others can follow. When you view your own position as one of “quota keeping,” you have effectively devalued whatever worth you might actually bring to the table.
Life Is Not a Bare-Knuckled Bout
By affiliating with others, you are building a network of colleagues and supporters who can be much more useful to one another’s success than a lone, bare-knuckled brawler could ever be. Healthy competition can bring out the best in people, but naked ambition and coldhearted climbing can undo a collaborative environment in record time.
Create Safe Spaces for Honest Assessment and Development
Be open and honest and tactful in your words. Create an environment in which each person has a voice that is valued and invited. Make is safe for colleagues to be tentative and to trust. We all need a space where ideas can be shared, discussed, examined, and fostered. When a group is cohesive and goals are shared, the work load is lightened and each member will go far as they all go together.