Over the last year I have been listening to many women I have come into contact with about their concerns that leaders in the organizations they work for don’t always listen and take action on some of the recommendations they make. This is concerning because at a time when there has been increasing discussion on women continuing to break through the “glass ceiling”, there also seems to be a perception that women are not allowed to be part of and get credit for helping to change, improve and become influencers in the organizations that employ them. Is this the case or is it just the perception of a few? Maggie Warrell recently wrote an article titled Glass Ceiling or Glass Cage: Breaking through the biggest barrier holding women back. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/08/04/glass-ceiling-or-glass-cage-breaking-through-the-biggest-barrier-holding-women-back/). Warrell suggests and maybe she has a point that what’s holding us back are not others but ourselves and she suggests seven possible acts of courage.
1. Unleash your ambition
2. Know your value
3. Don’t lead from a crowd
4. Be willing to rock the boat
5. Advocate for yourself (yes, “good girls” do ask)
6. Refuse to tolerate the intolerable
7. Embrace risk as crucial to your success
This brings me to the point I have been thinking about over the last number of months maybe we are the creators of our own futures, good or bad, either not living life large enough or at the very least living life too small. Gordon Mackenzie in his book Orbiting the Giant Hairball tells a story about painting you own masterpiece. He ends the story with a very thought provoking statement “If you go to the grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it, only you”. So as an assertive women do you believe things have changed for women in organizations as far as being rewarded, recognized, and valued for the contributions we make? And if we are not is it possible that we have become victims of our own demise and would be better served by adapting some of the principles presented above by Maggie Warrell? The point is if we don’t take charge of our lives and careers no one else will.