Being treated like a commodity is very painful
I spent more than 20 years (my entire corporate career) working in HR. I started as an HR Assistant and left corporate as an HR Executive and as you can probably imagine, there were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way. I’ve always been somewhat of a servant leader from the perspective of wanting to help people succeed. It’s the very reason why the field of HR was so attractive to me.
When I landed my first job in HR, I would always experience a feeling of euphoria when I was able to help someone get a foot in the door for a job interview. I simply loved it because it played to my natural desire to serve and see others win. In fact, I became known for consistently tapping into my network to bring in qualified and diverse candidates. I was very good at prepping them for their interview by helping them have empowered conversations that would eventually get them hired but sadly, I fell short when it came to showing up in this same way for myself.
Being the introvert that I am, I was a quiet leader who performed exceptionally well and while my performance served me well to an extent, I eventually became stuck and unable to move to the next level. The problem was while I was good at what I do, I didn’t show up with the level of passion and gravitas that some of my peers did and as a result, I would be ignored and overlooked for great opportunities. I wasn’t visible enough to be seen as valuable and I had not developed my leadership voice in a way that would allow me to be heard, respected and chosen. The harsh reality I had to face was that while the company was benefiting from my expertise, I was literally being treated like an easily replaced commodity. Luckily, I wasn’t too far into my career before I ‘woke up’ and realized that not being respected and compensated for my value was nobody’s fault but my own. Ouch!
My Moment of Clarity
After being fed up with seeing less qualified and less skilled people be chosen over me, I realized that I was neglecting to focus my efforts in the three areas that mattered most: Reputation, Relationships & Results. I also had a very interesting revelation that while you absolutely must always deliver excellence, what gets you chosen over your peers is being masterful at packaging, positioning and delivering what you do in a way that disrupts patterns and creates a burning desire for change. This is when it became crystal clear to me that developing my communication and leadership skills were the two things that would help me get out of my own way and more importantly get me unstuck.
What Really Made the Difference?
I had the skills, passion and motivation but what I didn’t have was someone holding me accountable. I didn’t have that one very significant relationship with someone who wouldn’t let me off the hook and would push me to do what I said I was committed to. I didn’t have that person who I could open up to about my fears without worrying about being judged.
Quite frankly…I didn’t have the courage to ask for help.
BUT…when I finally mustered up the courage, I started seeking out mentors and coaches both inside and outside the company to help me and things shifted dramatically!
My Reputation, Relationships & Results improved and it was because I allowed someone who I trusted to help me get unraveled from my blind spots. No, it wasn’t rocket science that set me straight and this is not a sales pitch. It’s simply my truth. It’s the thing that helped me go from HR Assistant to HR Executive with the respect and compensation that I deserved.
Helping Women Thrive as Leaders
One of the first questions I ask all of my clients is “Why should anyone be led by you?” Their answer helps to shape and inform the direction of our work together, because while it’s a simple question in theory, understanding the real purpose behind the question makes arriving at an answer not so easy. Over the course of 20+ years, I am proud to say that I’ve advised and helped nurture the success of many aspiring, emerging and experienced leaders. I’ve helped them elevate their impact. Influence and profile, birth new brands, magnetize their message, make their value visible, increase their credibility in order to reposition themselves at a higher level, connect with key influencers and more. (Learn more about coaching and consulting with me here.)
My annual live event The Women & Power Symposium inspires women to think expansively about how they show up as leaders and to take the smart risks that will allow them to flourish. I pride myself in creating interactive experiences infused with hands-on exercises, personal coaching and a layer of high velocity entertainment that includes things like celebrity performances and one-woman shows.
Although my career has been full of many successes, what fulfills me the most are the successes of my clients. I remain in awe each time I see the women (and a few brave men) I work with experience their own breakthroughs and share success stories that changed their lives in ways they could have never imagined.