Stuck in the Middle

There’s a national debate raging over how to get more women into executive positions, but what if you’re still stuck in middle management?

Rebecca Shambaugh, author of Make Room for Her and It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor, shares some tips for rising above the plateau.

Know thyself. What are your top three strengths? What are your blind spots?

“People with better performance ratings and higher satisfaction typically understand themselves and wisely lead with their core strengths,” she says.

Have a plan. “There are no corporate Prince Charmings,” insists Shambaugh.

‘Most career paths aren’t a linear progression,” she adds.

We have to be open to zigzagging, or possibly taking a pay cut for more responsibility and exposure.

Socialize your plan. “People are not mind readers,” she reminds. “No one else can identify your goals and dreams.”

“As I gained more organizational savvy, I increased my level of visibility to work with senior executives who then got to see me in action,” recalls Shambaugh.

Build your personal board of directors. “Rarely does someone get to the top without a sponsor,” she says.

And, don’t wait for sponsors to find you. It’s the protégé’s responsibility to cultivate the relationships.

Be a continuous learner. Stay abreast of changes in your industry, your organization and even your team.

“Find ways to broaden your knowledge and add value outside your day-to-day job,” suggests Shambaugh. “You can reinvent your existing job with the knowledge you gain from simply being involved in your community.”

Ask for what you need. “Ask people about possible job opportunities and then give them three reasons why you can do it,” says Shambaugh.

Women who make it out of middle management ask for more responsibility, sit in on key meetings and assist wherever they can.

One thing’s for sure. You will miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

Believe you can. “If you’re confident other people will have confidence in you.”

Bonus PINK Link: Are executive women obligated to advance others?

How did you climb out of middle management?

By Ellen Dicus

“Try not to become a [wo]man of success, but rather a [wo]man of value.” Albert Einstein

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