The 5 New Skills Every Woman Needs to Succeed at Work
4. Wear a Turtleneck
This one isn't fashion advice but a success tip from the very successful. Sallie Krawcheck, a former top executive at Bank of America and Citigroup, told me even she got nervous when asking for a raise or something else she needed from her boss. To make it easier, she practiced in front of the mirror dozens of times, and in front of her husband. And she always wore a turtleneck on that day, because she tended to break out in a red sweaty neck rash when she was nervous. If there are parts of your body that will betray you—a twitch, a tapping foot, a nervous laugh—learn to disguise or deal with them. You need to appear communal and big sisterly, yes, but also utterly confident and in command.
5. Get the Sock Out of Your Pants
Before she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina famously showed up to a meeting with a sock in her pants, to send the not so subtle message that she could keep up with the boys. Even back then, this move probably wasn't necessary, but today it would be downright counterproductive. Our understanding of what makes a good leader is shifting to incorporate more traditionally feminine traits. The new model of effective leader is less army general and more soccer coach, someone who can inspire a team, collaborate and "walk in someone else's shoes with emotional intelligence and empathy," in the words of Julie Gerberding, who is now the President of Merck's vaccine division. Don't think of your girlish side as a handicap in the office, because nobody else does anymore.
One of the new power women we see in the papers these days, Christine LaGarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, once said the Wall Street collapse would have been much less severe if "Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters." Remember this when you're going out there: The age of testosterone is over. You are the new rescue team.
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