You are not a sex at work, you are an individual, says Judith Beck, Founder of executive search firm Financial Recruitment Group.
“I know barriers for women still exist in the workplace. On occasion, bad attitudes and assumptions still emerge that seem to be intent on holding women back,” says Judith, author No Sex at Work.
“However, I truly believe both men and women can create barriers when they may not even be there. How do you get around, over or under the real barriers that do exist and arrive at a point where sex is truly not important at work?”
When Judith started her career, she didn’t walk into her first role thinking, “I’m a female. People will discriminate against me and I will not be promoted.”
“I was fortunate to have strong role models who encouraged me,” she says. “I was taught to think of myself as an individual – someone who has something to offer. They also equipped me with the business skills I needed to progress. Unfortunately, not everyone has had good role models or any role models in their upbringing or in their career journey.
“Going into any role, at any level, starts with belief in yourself. If you start sabotaging yourself with misperceptions it will make your journey harder. You are a businessperson first. That should be your focus. How do I get from A to B as a business person and what are the skills that I need?”
Working for over 25 years with C-suite executives, Judith says there are certain things that the most successful leaders do that puts them at the top of their field. Their success has nothing to do with their sex or gender.
What makes a successful business leader?
- They lead at every level in their career. They lead by example, act ethically, call out bad behaviour as it happens and take responsibility. They see problems and find the solutions.
- They have a support group. They know they can have it all; they just can’t do it all. They build a team of advisors, mentors and coaches. They are not afraid to ask for help.
- They know their weaknesses. They understand they are not perfect and bring in the right people to help.
- They embrace confidence, not arrogance. They don’t feel the need to overstate their achievements. They treat everyone with respect and with common courtesies regardless of their level or importance.
- They own their mistakes. They don’t blame the organisation, the systems, the culture, the economy, or their boss for their losses. They just get on with it. Fix what needs to be fixed and take accountability. They focus on what they do have, not what they don’t.
“These leaders are female and male. Gender didn’t come into the equation for their success. Ensuring that they had the right skills and abilities is what elevates them into the top 10 per cent,” Judith says.
“There are hundreds of things we will need to do to take sex out of work completely. If you focus on you as an individual, and what you need to do to get from A to B, I believe your journey will have a greater chance of success.”