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I love the very concrete, practical, behavioral approach you take to this, John. As I look at your list of pitfalls, I see them play out routinely... in myself and other women. Being aware is a wonderful first step. Thanks for the insights!

I feel that doing your job to the best of your ability, not cleaning up after others after they consistently make mistakes, and proving yourself time and time again is the very best approach. I have been given many different opportunities in my job from just doing my job to the best I can and when asked to, fixing the mistakes of other employees.

It is rather shocking, given the women's liberation movement of over 50 years, that we would still be hitting our heads on the glass ceiling. I think that the advice given here about being flexible with leadership styles is important. However, often when women take on a more masculine style they come across as cold, heartless and bitchy. What can a woman do to mitigate the negative connotations that develop when women become more forceful in the workplace?

Michelle, be Aware of Gender Gaps

The key to success will be to recognize that some ingrained behaviors can create natural “gender gaps."

We know that the corporate world has vast room for improvement when it comes to incorporating women into top professional positions. Unfortunately, the subtleties of the Old Boys Club continue to flourish. So, what can women do about this?

As you know, the culture at most companies has been shaped over centuries by male executives. You also know that the natural outcome of a male-dominated business is that it has the tendency to be conducted like a team sport.

Today, more and more women are playing competitive sports, but it is only recently that they have begun to recognize the need to adapt some of these same skills to the workplace. Even then, women can find the rules of the game elusive; they don’t completely understand its approach to power, money, control, and status. Sometimes the elements are more subtle than that.

You know, and we know, that you are skilled and brighter than average. You work hard, you stay late, and yet others who are less dedicated are too often the ones who get recognized and rewarded.

This fact is sad but true: it will be exceptionally difficult to move ahead if you don’t appreciate the unwritten rules of the game. Keep in mind the truism: “Star players don’t become star players on the field. They are merely recognized there.” If you want to understand how someone succeeds, don’t just watch them accept the award. You have to observe their daily preparations closely.

To bridge gender gaps, successful women key into the rules of the game and actively study the culture of their organization. For starters, women must understand what is considered a win, what behaviors and goals will be rewarded, and what qualities are characteristic of a strong team player.

To win the game, read this self-coaching guide that we have created for career women:

I liked this article and it is currently right on target for my Cultural Diversity course's current chapter. It was well written and I liked the points suggested. However, I think it missed another key factor. This key factor is the knowledge and the importance of Conflict Management. Conflict will arise in the workplace be it negative or positive. Being in Information Technology does not exempt you from dealing with conflict and therefore I think this would be helpful to the reader as well. Moreover, the person who is adept at handling these challenges with skill and finesse will prove themselves to be more marketable and valuable. Below are my notes on the Ten Principles of Conflict Management:
1. Manage conflict in the early stages – Do not wait for the issues to explode; when allowed to build up these conflicts are harder to resolve
2. Think through conflict – Ask yourself these questions: What is the conflict about, why does it concern you and what would be a satisfactory solution for you and the other involved parties?
3. Take enough time to get your emotions under control and gather your thoughts – When you are angry or emotional; it is difficult to evaluate the situation from a different perspective.
4. Listen actively – Pay full attention to what you and others are saying, feeling as well as what is not being expressed. Try to hear the message and DO NOT attempt to decipher the message to hear what you want to hear.
5. Watch your body language – Keep your non-verbal and verbal language consistent with your spoken message.
6. Keep an open mind – Realize that your view is just one way of looking at things. Instead of asking how you can win ask instead what can I learn from this experience.
7. Criticize ideas, not people – Keep your focus on the issue or issues. Acknowledge and show your respect for the opinion of others.
8. Ask questions rather than assume – Check your assumptions at the door. You can only guess what other people thinking, so always ask questions rather than arriving at your own conclusions without the facts.
9. Try to put yourself in the other person’s place – Step outside your comfort zone and empathize on the other parties’ position. This way you gain a better idea of the other person perceptions, beliefs and wishes as well as helping you to react in a more positive way that is both respectful and caring.
10. Be willing to change – A willingness to change, being adaptable, is the quickest way to turn a conflict into an opportunity.
I hope these skillful steps will prove useful to you and good luck on breaking through that glass ceiling.

Thanks for the guide

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