Who is Your Best Advocate? It Better Be You.
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In case you missed the recent Pink Power Alliance Zoominar on Self-Advocacy, 87% percent of the women Pink surveyed, say they are better advocating for others than for themselves. Defined as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests,” self-advocacy would seem to be a pretty basic skill. Still, 44% of those attending said they have difficulty making their needs clearly known and 41% said it’s hard to take the initiative to ask.
Difficulty advocating for one’s self is frequently cited, even by senior-level executive women, as an obstacle keeping them from more easily identifying and accomplishing goals. Why is this a big deal? If others don’t know your strengths, and you don’t ask for what you want— it’s a lot harder to get the promotion, pay raise, vacation, high profile assignment, or any other support you may need.
“It all starts with valuing your self—knowing your self-worth,” said Executive Coach Chloé Taylor Brown, of Chloé Taylor Brown Enterprises; one of Pink’s featured coaches.
Experts and thought leaders featured in a deep dive conversation on the Pink Power Alliance topic said professional women are reluctant for good reason. Women worry about coming off as too pushy or, alternatively, being the proverbial wallflower when we don’t step up. Yet, all agreed, self-advocacy is essential to success.
It may have saved Plat4orm CEO Valerie Chan’s life after a near-death traffic wreck left her incapacitated. It took two years to relearn how to walk and talk, “I had to learn to think differently.” Her new, amazingly improved ability to advocate for her health and her business – drove her to success. She says, “It’s good to brag on yourself. [But] as an Asian American woman, it’s hard to go up against cultural expectations.”
Southwest Airlines Community Outreach Manager Quinnie Jenkins admits she struggled with this issue early in her career. A mentor finally pushed her to get comfortable sharing her strengths and successes, telling her, ‘“If you never talk about it, none of us will ever know.’ Now, every week I try to share all my wins of what I have accomplished.”
Jackson Healthcare’s Chief of Corporate Operations, Jennifer Dangar starts by bragging about her team. “I don’t spend a lot of time on me, me, me.” She says celebrating and crediting the team demonstrates leadership. “Advocate for your team publicly. You’re the architect.”
She shared specific things women can do and say to make self-advocacy less daunting. After touting the team, she suggests saying something like “my accomplishments for the quarter are….” She advises making sure you’re speaking in the leadership’s language if it’s “metrics or performance they’re looking for” as an example. Formerly head of strategy at the Weather Channel, Jennifer would go around the room and ask everyone, “What are you most proud of this week?” She suggests sharing what you’re most proud of as a way to “brag” comfortably. Try saying, “You know what I’m most proud of?” Then share what you accomplished.
Chloé advises those she works with to be direct. “It should not be offensive for us to share what we’re good at and what we like— and to feel good about it.” The other experts agreed!
The women attending were challenged to each take 30 seconds in a private breakout to “brag” about their accomplishments. Attendees said the experience was profound. Coach Genevieve Piturro said, “It was fun because we were all in a safe place and had something to share.” Professional coach Adele Wang added, “We had an awesome time. Everyone walked away with a smile of confidence.”
If you’re still not sure of your strengths, ask others suggested Annette Tirabasso, a consultant and former Partner at Deloitte Consulting. “Check out the book Strengths Finders by Tom Rath.” Valerie suggested, “keeping a notebook. Start journaling. You’ll see where your strengths are.” Once you know what they are, she suggests, “Put a Post-it on your refrigerator and your mirror and write down wins as they come.” Annette says she keeps a “bragging folder” of her wins and she encouraged others to do the same.
A high point came when all the women attending were urged to put their cameras on after one coach shared data indicating that men are 25% more likely to appear on camera during a zoom conference. Immediately, image after image of the women popped up on screen and finally, they were seen. “It was a delight to see,” said Chloé.
When we kicked off the conversation, 31% of those attending said they were either “Not good” or “Terrible” at self-advocacy. In less than an hour, a whopping 96% said they were better able to advocate for themselves.
The speakers acknowledged women are so good at humility, but it’s also crucial to exercise these muscles too. Adele said, “get more comfortable with this energy of arrogance;” and Cholé added, enjoy “the magic of thinking big.”
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO!
A Few Takeaways from the Group:
1. Take Note of Your Wins & Strengths.
Keep a “Bragging Folder.” Put your wins on a Post-It on your fridge.
2. Know What You Want.
Write down your immediate, five, and 10-year goals. If you’re not sure what you want, keep a journal.
3. Tout Your Team & Put Yourself First.
“Have the confidence and emotional strength to share why you are amazing,” says Quinnie.
4. Assess Your Environment.
“Read the room, take feedback. See it from the other’s perspective,” suggests Valerie.
5. Be Prepared.
“Have the facts and documentation as back-up why you should get what you want when you ask for it,” added Quinnie.
6. Have the Conversation.
Share what you’ve accomplished and where you want to go.
The book, “You Are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero.
Quinnie’s favorite book, “I give it to all my best girlfriends.”
Annette recommends the book, “StrengthsFinder,” to uncover your talents through an online tool by Tom Rath and Gallup scientists.
Recommended by Valerie Chan, CEO Plat4orm:
A Devastating Car Accident Left This Entrepreneur Unable to Speak or Walk for Months. Here’s How She Rebuilt Her Life and Her Business.
From Chloé Taylor Brown
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