7 Traits of Commanding Women
Part of the inspiration for Apply & Command are the many people who were kind enough to compliment me on my confidence. In addition, the brand was inspired by those who were surprised to find out I’m not (most times) as confident as I seem!
Even your heroes have weaknesses.
Confidence issues plague our community, largely because our histories are often so ingrained with being submissive, quiet and “proper” (whatever the fuck that is). Overall, society tends to praise women who are shy, demure, and "lady-like" (again, wtf?) because those characteristics are seen as more attractive. Many business skills like negotiating, public speaking, leadership, etc aren't seen as "lady-like"-- that keeps us behind in the workplace.
Studies have shown that men tend to overestimate their skills and abilities while women underestimate. Studies have also shown, however, that women make better leaders than men.
There’s a chance that if we were better able not only to speak to our qualities but be confident in enforcing them--we’d stand a better chance at getting what we want in our careers. I help my clients apply for jobs they want and command their way to them through effectively selling their skills, developing more positive views of themselves. Here are 7 traits of a commanding woman.
1. She has a vision:
You can’t reach your goal if you don’t know what it is. While it seems simple, many of us go day-to-day at our job with no idea of the bigger picture, so we waste our time when we could be planning for the next move. Understanding what we want out of life puts us in control to cater our present toward a better future.
Solution: Make a 1 year, 5 year and 10 year plan if you’re ambitious. Keep a detailed log (doesn’t HAVE to be a journal, I keep goals in my iphone :)) and make check lists when you can, both daily and for the long term. It feels good to check things off. There’s science behind it.) If you don't know what you want to do at all, assess your skills and interests. Make yourself a project that you own from start to finish.
2. She’s always learning:
I stress this a lot but it’s important. You can never know too much. Learning new things can help you get ahead in your current job and build toward future positions as well. In addition, adding to your expertise on a subject can tremendously boost your confidence when you have to speak in public spaces.
Grab that knowledge. You don’t (always) need to spend thousands of dollars on an extra degree. This is the age of information. If your current employer doesn’t offer a professional development stipend, consider groupons, online courses and tons of free academic papers, ebooks and articles on topics you love. In addition, lectures, panels and presentations are great for learning AND networking.
3. She supports other women:
We don’t get anywhere alone and if there’s no solidarity among us then we contribute to the systems that hold us back. It doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive, it means you understand competition has a time and place. In addition, forming bonds (whether they are friendships or professional relationships), help us advance and learn more about ourselves. And you should always be an expert on yourself.
Go the extra mile for your women co-workers. I especially respect administrative assistants in my place of work. I make sure I say hello, ask politely for things (and make sure it’s in their job duties in the first place) as well as offer to get coffee/lunch for them when I can. You don’t need to be everyone’s best friend but taking the time to ask how things are going can go a long way.
4. She admits her flaws:
This can be tough to do but chances are if you spend plenty of time denying your shortcomings to others, you’re also denying them to yourself and if you deny them you can’t sincerely work to fix them. A commanding woman acknowledges her mistakes quickly because the faster she does, the faster she can learn from them and improve.
Taking constructive criticism is hard. Listen first and ask questions/dispute later (even if it’s in a separate meeting entirely). It’s okay to say “Thank you for this feedback. I would like some time to think it over. Could we meet again to discuss?” In addition, be honest when you make a mistake-- “I didn’t know”, “It wasn’t me” or “This happened because [insert excuse] can really hurt people’s view of you. It’s best to immediately take responsibility for something and promise improvement.
5. She prioritizes herself:
“Self-care” is overused but not without reason. Our culture idolizes exhaustion and we shouldn’t. A commanding woman finds success at work because she takes time for both herself AND her career.
Take your lunch break, take a nap, eat a good meal, hang out with your friends--do things for yourself and don’t be swallowed by ANY job--even if you love it. Love yourself more.
6. She’s persistent:
You know the drill, if at first you don’t succeed.... Few things worth having come easily and a commanding woman knows success takes hard work. Therefore, we have to be willing to put in the time to get the reward. It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re being thwarted time and time again but failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s one step closer to where you need to be.
Analyze your failures. See where you went wrong and why--then strengthen those qualities. Passed up for a promotion? Ask to meet with your manager and see how you can improve. Second time applying to a job and still no response? Connect with current employers and ask for informational interviews.
7. She says "No":
This can be so tough in the workspace. Whether we’re being given work that’s not our responsibility or someone is slipping some emotional labor onto our plate, we have every right to walk away, every right to say no. Of course, standing up for ourselves is a skill that has to be honed but it’s not at all impossible.
Don’t be afraid of awkward silences after you refuse something. Don’t follow up with “I’m sorry”, or “If that’s okay with you”. Give the other person time to respond. If you’re in the right, you deserve to be listened to. *Note-- some environments call for people to take on extra responsibilities and wear many hats. Note the culture and climate of your environment when you turn something down. At any rate, if you're over worked talk to your managers about it.
Time to exercise these traits. Walk into work like the boss you are!