The Power of Networking – Part 2
By Dr. Marcia Reynolds, AZ
There’s another fear that stops women from leveraging the “who you know” chip: the fear of other women.
Hewitt’s article says women worry that if they ask a male to sponsor them, others will think it’s a sexual relationship. In my experience coaching female executives, most have no problem asking men to be their mentors (sponsorship is a fairly new concept we are working on). They aren’t concerned about gossip. They worry more that women will not work hard enough for them, or worse — sabotage their growth.
Women sabotaging women is one of the worst lies that is perpetuated in corporate America. Do some women dislike other women? Yes, as some men don’t care for other men. If given the chance, most senior women these days jump at the chance to help develop and promote other women. I spoke with Lauren Klein, Chief Community Officer for Executive Networks, about this reality. She said:
“We have many internal networks join in on the conversations in our broader network of executives who show up to talk about workforce topics. The women consistently attend and share valuable knowledge and experiences. What’s more, they appear to genuinely enjoy checking in with each other for support, advice and all-around camaraderie. Perhaps it’s time to put the myth of “women undermining other women” to rest, once and for all.”
Recently, in our Executive Networks’ Global Diversity & Inclusion Network, we discussed women and succession planning. According to Mary Farmer, the executive director of the network, “The genuine willingness to share valuable information, without self-interest, is something I’ve encountered frequently in both internal communities and external networks of professional women. I don’t see evidence of women undermining each other. My experience is just the opposite; women can and do join forces to create positive change and facilitate gender balance in today’s high-performing companies.”
I have advocated before for women to create their Positive Conspiracies of Change in organizations. Women need sponsors and they need to come together in supportive networks. There is no shame in asking for help. It is the way we will finally get more seats in the boardroom and our career desires met.
It’s time we play the “who you know” game, too.
* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.
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