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  • Writer's pictureKate Gigax

'Good Girls:' Voice Your Value or Fall Behind (Act II series)

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Many high achieving women struggle to speak about their value in absolute terms despite the positive benefits that they could reap from doing so. For a variety of reasons, society has trained high achieving women (and the little girls that they once were) that they need to be ‘good’. 

Many high achieving women are working on rewiring the ‘good girl’ they were socialized to be. Good girls — while likeable and helpful — lack intention other than to be ‘good’ in the eyes of others. Speaking up about our successes can be difficult because of ‘good girl’ wiring or a desire to maintain social harmony. 

Author Deborah Tannen notes that women are less likely than men to have learned to toot their own horn and they are more likely than men to believe that if they do so, they won’t be liked. The problem is, that this is a real disadvantage when trying to advance in the workplace.

What’s holding you back from voicing your value? What are you avoiding? Not being liked? Being viewed as a braggart? Often our aversions are driving our behavior more than we realize. Here are some phrases that might help you voice your value:

  • “I [succinctly state what you did]. I’m proud of the result” (Signposting that you take pride in your work is the first step to being valued by others.)

  • “Not without a lot of effort, I was able to achieve [measurable result].” 

  • “My team is incredible. They were able to [state the outcome].” (Oftentimes, managers find it easier to speak of their team’s success then our own.)

  • “My goal was to have an impact on [the organization, a goal… something big] so that drove me to [state what you did and the result, using quantifiable measures when appropriate].”

One of my clients, a Managing Director at a global consulting firm in Berlin learned that her hard work didn’t automatically speak for itself when it was time to make her case for the promotion into her current role. She developed her storytelling ability to present a compelling case for her promotion and it worked.  Her takeaway was that she needed to look up from her work and start deploying her efforts toward showing others the value of the work through quantifying it and telling the story of impact.  She’d never done it before because she was too busy. She shared there’s a German word for what she had done: Fleißbienchen. It is a term used only for women which translates to “busy bee” in English.  Isn't it interesting that the term only applies to women? Being too busy to be strategic, or Fleißbienchen, is one of the most important pivot points in Act II.

Where are you being a busy bee and how can you zoom out and tell the story of the results you have achieved? Instead of filling up your calendar, lists and notebooks, cut through the clutter and define your successes clearly and concisely. You’ll show your managers and team that you are in control and indispensable. 

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