Leadership

5 No-Nonsense Ways to Shatter That Glass Ceiling

5 No-Nonsense Ways to Shatter That Glass Ceiling

Let’s talk about that corporate glass ceiling. First of all, what is a Corporate Glass Ceiling? A Corporate Glass Ceiling usually describes practices or business traditions that tend to limit the advancement of some employees over others. Sometimes these practices are overt and reflect concerns about potential gender bias or bias against minorities, discrimination in many forms, or perhaps unconscious bias. 

In any case, it’s unsettling to feel that you are falling behind because you probably don’t know why. In my opinion, glass ceilings do exist in many forms, but my focus here is not to address diversity, discrimination, or gender inequality concerns. 

Specifically, I will discuss how any one of us may contribute to or create our glass ceiling without realizing it. In other words, I’m going to focus on what you can control or fix right now.

How to manage your career effectively?

Sometimes the ability to crack glass ceilings requires finding ways to differentiate ourselves and make those in the senior management position aware of our full capabilities and potential. But what if we are unknowingly doing things that limit our career advancement? 

I had this problem at one point in my career. I simply had difficulty seeing how other people saw me. For a while, I was not seen as having senior leadership potential. But, take heart, there are simple ways to become self-aware and understand how to raise your stock with senior leaders who can influence your career and leadership advancement progression. 

And as we get to the end of this article, there is additional information that I want to give you as a bonus. It will be the final thing we talk about, and it is wonderfully simple.

No matter our gender, we all need help understanding our self-awareness in our lives and career. And, trust me, proper self-awareness is critical to effectively handling a senior leadership role. So, how do you do it?

How do I develop professional self-awareness?

This first set of actions that you can take is introspective and personal. You want to recognize your distractions and how your senior managers may view them. Here is how. 

  1. If you’re doing a presentation, ask someone to shoot a video of that presentation for you so that you can watch it later. Now, I’m going to warn you that this may be eye-opening to you, so you might not want to show that video to someone else until you’ve had a chance to review it alone. It will show you a lot that perhaps you need to see. 

As a result, you may start to see a barrier or two that you are creating. A barrier is a distraction that prevents others from listening to you.

  • Ask a significant person in your life to give you an honest appraisal about habits that you have that may be distracting. Now don’t be afraid and don’t be easily offended. You should simply ask the question repeatedly until that person exhausts everything they want to tell you and then stop asking the question. 

Later, honestly ask yourself if you heard anything that might be creating a barrier to your advancement to leadership. 

  • Ask your boss or perhaps a pastor or someone you trust how you can improve your self-awareness. Be careful not to pick and choose to think about some things they tell you but not others. Just listen to everything they are saying and take notes. 

Then give each a thorough, honest review of what it means to your self-awareness and your advancement. Remember that you are trying to make ‘you’ better. Most people will not tell you something when you ask this question if there isn’t something there that can help you. 

Your professional appearance is important.

The second action you can take involves learning to present a more professional image. It is an easy one. First, find a clothier in service to both male and female executives, and ask for clothing tips to project a more professional, senior role presence. You don’t need to dress expensively, but you should look put together correctly. They can help you reflect a more leadership role-ready image. 

How important is professional communication?

The third set of actions I have for you is perhaps the toughest one. Take the time to sit alone, uninterrupted, and ask yourself some hard questions like; 

  1. What does my language say about me? Do I, without thinking, perhaps use inappropriate language from time to time in the corporate setting or among senior leaders? One of my mentors gave me a litmus test. He said; would your mom or grandma be ok with your language all the time? That was a pretty good test. 
  • I’d like for you to think about this question. Do you interrupt others in conversation? It is a common personal habit that many people have and are simply not aware of. If you interrupt people in senior roles, you may give them the impression that you don’t listen well because they don’t get to finish what they have to say. That can be an unnecessary and off-putting distraction. 

Remember what you are trying to do; take away your distractions that may be limiting your advancement. Patient listening is usually noticed positively by senior leaders.

  • How well do you ‘listen’? The ability to communicate effectively is something that all leaders in senior roles must be able to do. You will be working with people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Effective communication requires patience and the ability to listen and understand carefully. 

I continue to refer to the advice given to me by my mentors, so here is one more. They coached me that an effective way to listen was to put myself in the speaker’s shoes, then carefully and intentionally try to understand what was said and what the speaking individual meant. If you do this well, people around you will instinctively know that you care about them. Great leaders do this.

Personality traits are important in leadership.

This tip has significant implications for raising your potential leadership role stock. Senior managers and executives are looking for potential leaders readily accepted by their peers and those who report to them. In other words, they want leaders who will promote teamwork to perform consistently. 

So, ask yourself these questions; Do the people around me knows that I care about them? Am I approachable? Would people follow me because they want to or have to? 

Focusing on others will enhance your leadership skills and make you more effective and productive in all senior positions that you earn. And if you are known to be a manager who has no gender, age, or equality biases, the very best people will want to work for you and do a good job. You will lead a comfortable, productive place to work. 

Mentors are priceless.

Finally, find your mentors. Mentors are simply coaches. 

My mentors could tell me anything. And I would listen, and I would accept it. I knew they wanted me to succeed because they invested so much time in me. You want your mentors to be honest and straightforward with you. They can ‘show you the ropes’ for career advancement and getting ready for the C. suite. 

The best mentors are people who succeeded in their senior positions. They have been where you want to go and have experience in your path of progression. Your current boss might be the perfect mentor for you. Start by asking your boss what it will take for you to progress to leadership in your business. It would be best if you got honest, straightforward answers. 

Additionally, some larger companies require that leadership candidates have senior management or executive sponsors to have an opportunity for leadership training or career advancement. If you develop relationships inside your business with current leaders, you may gain the exposure needed to get into programs of this type. 

A final thought.

I have one last piece of advice. Smile! You will be a more effective leader if you smile. It is a potent tool that creates calm for those around you. Peaceful people are more apt to be seen as better potential leaders, and it’s easy to do.

So, to summarize, if you can become self-aware, you can be more mindful of how you are perceived. Evaluate yourself honestly and then devise a plan to mitigate your distractions. Talk with people you trust, perhaps people in senior roles in your company, to help you prepare for your desired career growth. These tips will work for prospective women leaders or men.

Remember that your objective is to overcome your barrier to attaining that leadership position. Adjusting your persona is not as difficult as you think, but you need to know what to change. And knowing what to change is the starting point to being able to adjust and perhaps crack portions of that glass ceiling. 

And find mentors. Everyone needs a senior leadership coach who has been where they want to go.

Now take action!

Write your own Leadership Development Plan.

Once you have gone through these steps, you are ready to create your plan for your career progression. You have more control over your ability to reach that leadership role than you thought. 

Then discuss that plan with your mentor(s) and watch your stock rise. Differentiate yourself and let your current leaders see that you are the right person for that advancement to that future senior leader and executive position. You are ready to climb that ‘Corporate Ladder’ and overcome a glass ceiling if there is one. Go get that executive position.

To conclude. I had the pleasure of mentoring many leaders who eventually became executives or held high senior positions. It was rewarding to enjoy their successes. And those relationships last a lifetime. If you would like to continue our discussion with me on that topic, click here for a free session. https://calendly.com/dave-kerford/ I’d be delighted to talk about this topic with you. 

Also, join our bulletproof business community. It is a shared forum of wisdom and experience from our C. suite and business leaders who have formed or are forming what we call bulletproof businesses. As a first step to joining our community, click here to sign up for our newsletter. https://davekerford.com/subscribe/ Enjoy!

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