Why do some women succeed while others fail?
How do successful women set the stage for the next promotion, higher salaries, or stellar performance?
Does it take:
- A high IQ?
- Good looks?
Implementation of effective strategies and persistence ultimately determine who’s more likely to succeed. In other words, it’s all about the goals. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. What matters is your ability to set specific goals, seize opportunities and act on them.
Success comes to women who believe they can succeed, but it also requires a specific plan that won’t be abandoned, even during tough times. Winning women also know that success may not come easily, but they remain focused on progress, monitor milestones and recognize what still needs to be done. They don’t let up.
High performing women have grit. They know obstacles are inevitable and find a way around them. They develop their abilities by finding solutions to setbacks. They build willpower by using it like a muscle—anticipating when they’re vulnerable, avoiding temptations, and preparing contingency plans and coping strategies.
Successful women focus on what they will do, rather than what they won’t do — a tactic that fosters positive energy. They know success depends on adapting to challenges and persisting, even when they’re ready to wave the white flag.
Successful women use goals effectively and take them seriously. If you want to increase your likelihood of success, the following leadership strategies are key factors that influence performance. They are relatively straightforward and easy to apply, but don’t skip them because they seem “obvious.”
- Be Specific. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated. Outline what you must do on a daily basis to realize your desired results. Which actions must you take to be a better manager/spouse/parent/friend or perhaps eat more healthfully? What will success look like when you’re there?
- Seize the Moment. Predetermine when and where you’ll take action to avoid the traps of distractions and other competing commitments. The best tactic is “if/then” planning: If X happens, I will do Y.
- Accurately Gauge the Distance. Decide how often you’ll evaluate your progress. Determine where you’ll gather information: Can you self-assess, or will you need others’ feedback? Create reminders to perform your assessments. To stay motivated, remind yourself of the tasks that remain for goal completion.
- Be a Realistic Optimist. If you’re full of self-doubt, recall some of the goals you’ve achieved in the past and what it took to pull them off. Visualize how you’ll deal with looming challenges. What’s your Plan B? Use if/then planning.
- Focus on Getting Better, Rather Than Being Good. When faced with a new and difficult project, budget the time needed to get a handle on it. It’s OK to make mistakes. Take advantage of others’ expertise and ask for help. Don’t compare yourself to others — only to your past performance. Are you improving?
- Have Grit. Grit is the willingness to commit to long-term goals and endure in spite of difficulties. Improvement is always Successful professionals understand that their abilities are far from fixed. They believe they can improve through practice.
- Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle. Willpower is depleted with use. Rest helps you recover quickly and remain positive. Reinforce your willpower muscle with small tasks: Take the stairs, make your bed, and show up on time.
- Don’t Tempt Fate. If you hang around a barber shop, you’ll eventually get a haircut. Stick with the winners. Avoid thinking you can cheat “just a little.”
- Focus on What You Will Do — Not on What You Won’t Many goals involve not doing something. Framing them in this way strengthens self-sabotaging impulses. Substitute if/then planning: “If I feel the urge to ________, then I will_______ instead.”
Self-reflection is a key component of leadership development. As career women, working to achieve professional goals while balancing our personal lives, self-reflection allows us to see where we need to adjust. To stay on track, adjustments in our priorities, activities, and schedules are often necessary. The best way to make swift adjustments is to periodically step back and reflect on key leadership areas. Some experts advise doing this every three to six months.
Women leaders should regularly examine three (3) target areas. As you review each of the areas, ask yourself how you’re doing and what you should be doing differently—and be sure to answer truthfully. There are no right or wrong answers, but this process will allow you to make decisions about where and how you need to recalibrate your efforts.
Three areas women leaders should examine are:
- Vision and Goals: Do you have a clear vision of the goals that you want achieve? Have you set S.M.A.R.T. goals. In other words, have you set goals that are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-based?
- Priorities and Time Management: Does your calendar reflect your priorities? Are you being purposeful about carving out time to take incremental steps towards achieving your goals? Are you eliminating activities from your schedule that don’t align with your goals?
- Self-Care: Are you taking care of YOU? Are you regularly engaging in healthy activities that bring you joy? Are you engaging in and adopting habits that boost your energy and improve your overall health and well-being?
Coming up with good answers is far less important than taking the time to ask yourself hard questions and honestly examine where you need to make changes. Reviewing the suggested areas and asking yourself where you are in each of those areas is intended to spark your thinking. If only a subset of them resonates with you, you may find it more interesting to come up with your own list of leadership areas to consider.
The goal here is to gain valuable insights into how you can stay on track as you develop as a leader. You can use this leadership checklist every few months for self-assessment.
A new year usually comes with new hope, renewed focus and a desire to start with a clean slate. Have you set new goals for 2020? Here are 5 steps to get you started:
1- Consider what you want to achieve: Goal setting requires thoughtful planning and consideration. Carve out some time to consider what you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to take your career to a new level. Maybe you want to improve your attitude or build new relationships. Whatever your goals are, take the time to flesh them out.
2- Count the cost of achieving your goals: Know how much achieving your goals will cost you. For example, if your goal is to write a book while you’re working a full-time job, you will likely have to give up your free nights and weekends to get it done. Is that a price you’re willing to pay? There is nothing more discouraging than failing to achieve a personal goal because you weren’t willing to pay the price of committing to achieve it.
3- Write your goals: It has been said that goals that are not written down are just wishes. Written goals will give you clarity of vision and a sense of purpose. Be specific when you write your goals. Prioritize your goals and include dates and sub-goals to measure achievement over time.
4- Review and revise your goals: Make it a habit to review your goals on a regular basis. Regular exposure to your written goals will give you a long-term perspective and the motivation to achieve. Additionally, it will afford you the opportunity to revise your goals should your circumstances change.
5- Stay on course: It will be easy to lose sight of your goals when the luster of the new year wears off. One good way to not lose sight of your goals is to recruit an accountability partner who is invested in your well-being. Share your goals with your partner and commit to meeting quarterly to review your goals. At each quarterly review, honestly assess how you’re doing. What worked? Where did you fall short? Do you need to reassess your priorities? An accountability partner will encourage you to keep your eye on the prize.
When you achieve a goal, remember to celebrate and enjoy the satisfaction of your accomplishment. Achieving goals will motivate you and give you the confidence to achieve your best.