Describing the new book, In Her Own Voice, by Jennifer McCollum, Anne Chow (former CEO of AT&T Business) says that “for women, the book does a beautiful job of explaining not just what to do to advance in your career, but also what to expect. For leaders, it helps you recognize the gap between what you think women seeking advancement want and what they really need.”
Chow adds, “the book is based on the experiences of tens of thousands of women, with guidance that is applicable to every one of us, no matter where we are on our own unique journey.”
McCollum divides her book into three parts:
- Understanding the hurdles to women’s advancement
- Overcoming the hurdles
- Eliminating the hurdles
She professes that women have unique gifts and abilities. “Businesses need talented women, now more than ever. We need to do everything possible to engage, develop, and inspire them—and to advance them into leadership roles, all the way to the C-suite and board positions, if they so choose.”
"Statistics show that companies with women represented at the top are 50 percent more likely to outperform their peers; they create better client retention, organic growth, and profit,” she adds.
McCollum explains that women leaders perform better, stay at their companies longer, and advance in their careers when organizations properly address these four critical dimensions:
Culture: Do women feel valued and respected within the organization?
People Systems & Processes: Do women have equal opportunities in people systems like the hiring process, access to stretch assignments, or promotions and sponsorship?
Executive Action: Are executives really committed to inclusivity and taking action to support and sponsor women?
Leadership Development: Do women have access to effective development?
Beyond what organizations can and should do to advance women, some of the pro-active actions McCollum recommends women take include the following to build your recognized confidence:
- Tell someone more senior than you about an accomplishment of yours.
- Consider self-promotion part of your job.
- Regularly schedule an informal chat with someone senior to you to discuss your future.
- Send your boss an email detailing one accomplishment of yours from the week.
- Ask to lead an initiative with the rationale that you are very good at that initiative.
- Tie your self-promotion to the value to the organization.
Further actions you can take, says McCollum, are ways to build your brand and presence:
Write out five words that describe what you want your brand to be. For example, how do people benefit from working with me? What advice or help do people come to me for? What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else?
Then, text three people you work with who know you well and ask them for a few words that describe who you are at work.
Next, compare the two lists. And consider:
- Is my perception of my brand accurate?
- Do others see me the way I want to be seen?
- What could be causing a disconnect (if there is one)?
- What evolution should I consider for my brand?
Furthermore, McCollum suggests you include these types of individuals in your network that you use to provide operational, personal, and strategic advice:
Senior executive in your organization
- Industry Insider
“Here’s the hard truth: women can do our part in overcoming the hurdles to advancement, but we can’t do it alone. Our organizations need to evolve alongside us,” says McCollum.
This book will help women quiet their inner critic, discard biases, build confidence, and gain clarity about the future. It also shows businesses how to attract the best and brightest women to their leadership ranks, help them maximize their gifts and talents, and retain them over time.
Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.