April 11, 2012
Don’t Ask – Tell!
Early in Kim Dixon’s career, before becoming COO of FedEx Office, she made a mistake that could have damaged her career.
She asked for permission she didn’t really need.
As a field manager at the helm of her first team, she recalls giving her boss “a very detailed debrief on the marketing options and then asking her opinion on what to do.”
Her boss’s response? “She replied, ‘I put you in this role because I trust your judgment. You don't need my opinion on this. Just go make it happen.’”
Dixon says that message liberated her, gave her a huge confidence boost and “has made me a decisive, action-oriented leader.”
Career experts agree: too often, women ask for permission at work – whether it’s approval of a project direction or time off to see a daughter’s soccer game.
Men, on the other hand, tell – as in, “this is why I should get that raise,” “I’ll be back in two hours,” and “you’ll love the completed project.”
Harvard Business Review reports, while children are taught to ask for permission, doing so as an adult is often seen as reluctance to make decisions or take on responsibility. Plus, you end up behind on tasks your more brazen coworkers have already started.
In her books, Lois P. Frankel suggests that asking permission for rational things is one way women can unintentionally stunt their careers – and success.
“I've made my share of mistakes, like we all have,” adds Dixon, “but mostly I've been right on the money.” What more could she ask for?
Bonus PINK Link: Are you fearless at work? Find out here.
How will you tell rather than ask next time? Comment and let us know.
By Caroline Cox
“Remember: The worst-case scenario is rarely as bad as you think.” Cathie Black
*Supporting images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Ambro, and photostock.