Updated: Sep 15, 2019
There is a common misconception about what it means to be a businesswoman; images of a 1990s Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl dressed to fit into a 'man's world' - all brief cases and shoulder pads - comes to mind. With that comes the misconception that you need to leave your emotions at the door and 'man up' to get ahead.
'Suck it up, be professional, be more masculine' - these are the traits we are led to believe will give us the professional edge in the workplace; as showing emotion is somehow weak and unprofessional. The idea that men have it right, to succeed you must have 'alpha' tendencies and be prepared to trample over anyone that gets in the way of your success or goals. Old adages of 'nice guys don't get the corner office' and the idea that to be ambitious and succeed you have to 'beat' the competition still linger.
This is all absolute rubbish in my view and to be fair, I think it's a bit of an outdated way of thinking and acting. Of course there may still be workplaces where it's commonplace - look at our government and parliament - however it's clear that there are more voices saying differently - and they're getting louder.
From my perspective I work with entrepreneurs and execs who are committed to using their voices in their work. They operate from their hearts and guts and for that reason are truly passionate and committed to doing work that matters; what this in turn means is that they are not afraid to show their passion and emotion when things go great and when things do not go to plan, too.
When you operate from that place of true passion and resonance you cannot help but be real every day.
And, when you work in that way it means that the right people are drawn to you and your passion for your work and they want to be on board with you.
As entrepreneurs - whatever your line of business - people buy from people. Their first point of contact and the thing that really draws them in will be how you communicate your business and what it means to you - passion is infectious. What then keeps people with you is your ability to show that you are human, as this makes you relatable. It builds loyalty as people invest in you and want to support that passion.
Being 'professional' does not need to equal being aloof/cold; your professionalism is in your output, your ability to relate to your clients and customers and the difference that you make.
YOU define your 'professional' and what it looks like in your business, don't forget to be human as you do this!
Want to learn more? Here are some more resources I'd recommend on how to stay human in business, build your emotional intelligence and connect with your customers and colleagues in a meaningful way:
Mary Portas' Work Like a Woman is about calling time on alpha culture and helping every one of us to be happier, more productive and collaborative in the workplace.
I've spoken about Brene Brown's Netflix 'Call to Courage' and TED Talk on Vulnerability in the workplace before - Dare to Lead is a great read where she talks about leading in business from the heart (and gut) with compassion, courage and connection with your team.
Programme Director for coding educational programme LaunchCode, Crystal Martin's TED Talk 'small ways women can support each other at work' is a great watch that really demonstrates the power of female collaboration and building deeper relationships with our work peers.
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