According to a study on gender bias for entrepreneurs, women receive only 2% of venture funding. What about during job interviews? Could women help direct the questions to show their potential for advancement instead of focusing on how we won’t fail? When we get asked questions we can choose the answer the question in a way that redirects the train of thought to be more promotion oriented rather than prevention to highlight the opportunity for greatness. We can frame the response to be about the personal professional goals and vision. We can ask about milestones towards success.
During a recent casual conversation with a leader in my company, I was asked – How are you going to complete the project by the go live date? Similarly, how are you going to finish on time? I wasn’t showing signs of risk of missing the deadline, but the way the question was framed at the prevention instead of focus on success is interesting.
How are you going to finish on time?
Biases can come at us during interviewing, networking, and even performance reviews.
As I prepare for growth opportunities as a project manager, I consider what I want people to remember. I want to make a positive impact. I want to lead others to success. I want to organize information to make sense of all the aspects and establish a plan of execution for a project that will have concrete physical results that will be celebrated by many people. I want to grow in responsibilities and size of the projects to establish something inspiring at the center of the happiest place on earth and say, I did that! We can do better and I have a few ideas on moving this organization forward. If I get asked how will I prevent failure, I will frame my response with how I will achieve success!
I was starting some research on executive presence to gain ideas on how I can increase my influence and inspire respect. I found a beautiful definition of influence:
Influence is the art and science of aligning your objectives with another’s
Diving into where this quote came from, different forms of motivation including influence are persuasion, manipulation, and coercion. As the types of motivation ranged from positive to negative the overall goal was to align a person’s objectives with yours. I started to reflect on the many different leaders I have worked for including those that helped to develop my career and others that seemed to strive for pure dictatorship control and empire building. Stepping back from how to be a great leader and influence others I started to think about why be a leader.
Like myself my daughter wants to be a leader. She jumps at opportunities to help organize other people, which comes in handy when I need assistance with getting a dozen young cub scouts in line. She wants to be president someday. Regardless of whether or not she leads our country one day, I want her to be a great leader. But why should she lead, why should I lead?
One reason I want to lead is because it feels great to me and I know I am great at it. My style of preference is to empower others to find the best way to help our team meet the vision. In my past leadership roles I have inspired my team to use their own unique ideas on how to accomplish projects that will meet our goals. I have received great feedback that team members have been more engaged due to my leadership. I have finally reached one of my goals of working for a company that has a goal I can proudly stand behind, to create happiness. I want to inspire action to help create amazing experiences. I want to improve the offerings of my organization to increase the opportunities for the magical moments that can dearly reside in a guests heart forever. Why should you lead?
I sat through a safety training class a few weeks ago with several guest speakers. These speakers talked about what makes them passionate about safety related work and many of the stories were based on incidents that they were exposed to. Witnessing someone dying during their construction job or dealing with medical limitations due to exposure. There is also the recreation side of things: The runners that painfully train for a marathon that alone is a difficult journey, the gymnasts that tirelessly build their strength and flexibility, and the other sports we push ourselves through to get a sense of accomplishment. Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, has many more examples of motivation through his research in behavioral economics.
When I tell my story as to what motivated me to enter into the field of engineering, I do talk about the exciting parts of wanting to use my creativity and be on a track of continuous learning. Although there is another aspect of my motivation, it is that I want to be able to be financially independent. I grew up babysitting for many women who were financially dependent on their husbands due to them being in a military field. These women had a difficult time sustaining their own career due to the demands of military life and regular relocations. Engineering is one of the most difficult things I could think of doing that would maximize my starting income in the shortest amount of time. I also thought through the potential of ease of transition into other areas as my career develops, which has worked well for me.
There are countless stories of people becoming doctors or researchers after witnessing hardship with their families or friends. This misery builds a fire and is a very interesting tool that is difficult to argue against due to it being so personal for building motivation. Harnessing and sharing that passion and motivation can bring out the stories in others and drive up their motivation.