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View Your Career as a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder

by Amy Franko

A woman will average 10.7 jobs in her lifetime, according to Fast Company.

I decided that the “.7” could be attributed to those of you out there doing the work of at least two people, or a job we’d rather forget!

Let’s say your career spans 30 years (and for many women, careers will be longer).  That calculates, on average, a move to a new job every 2.8 years. My own career path reflects this.  In 15 years, I’ve grown my career with six companies and have had seven unique job descriptions.

For many of us, our beliefs around how our careers will unfold were hatched by watching our parents work at the same place for their entire career, and perhaps in only a couple of jobs that entire time. To a large extent their careers were planned.  And if they were designated as “management material” they were swooped up, placed on the “management track” and away they went.

Our experience is now entirely different.  This notion of the “planned career” is as outdated as the phone I bought six months ago.

Today, when you walk in the door of a company there’s really no step-by-step formula or well-worn path to follow to your dream career or your leadership aspirations.   You design your path; you own it and are responsible for creating opportunities.

Pattie Sellers, Editor-at-Large of Fortune Magazine, captures it perfectly:

“The most successful people I know don’t think of their career as a ladder, but rather a jungle gym.”

[Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: What Are Your Leadership Habits?

This is the final article in our series on creating your leadership identity, based upon principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D.  Be sure to read the full series, available on our Emerging Women Leaders blog.

It was Aristotle who said that we are what we repeatedly do.  Our seemingly small actions, done day in and day out, eventually create who we are.

Our small actions, done day in and day out are also known as habits.

Who you are as a person is reflected in who you are as a leader, so it makes sense then that your habits have a big stake in your leadership path and ultimate success.  With the right habits you stay on course.  With the wrong ones, it’s easy to end up off the path and in the weeds!

A focus on habits seemed to me a perfect way to close this series and help set you up for success moving forward.   Each article in our Leadership Identity series laid out actions you can take to build a certain aspect of your leadership identity.  To help you take the next steps in creating lasting habits, I’ll share this simple plan you can practice and put into place.

[Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Do You Think Like a Leader?

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D.  Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on how your responses to workplace situations and people shape your leadership identity.

With the building blocks of your leadership identity, you have learned how to market, act, look, respond and sound like a leader. You have learned how to play the game of business. Now it’s time to complete the puzzle with this last building block — you must THINK like a leader.

Since starting Impact Instruction, I’m often asked about the lessons I’ve learned, not just in being an entrepreneur but also in becoming a better leader.

A big lesson I’ve learned is the power of how I think.  Mindsetaffects every decision I make, from company strategy, to my leadership style, to team building and culture.  Mindset is what creates an environment where I (and my team) can grow and succeed.

This same lesson applies to you on your leadership path.  Your mindset will put into motion the actions that create your ultimate success.  To smooth the path, your beliefs about what will help you succeed at that next level may need a little fine tuning.

Here are 3 big mindset shifts to make on your leadership path: [Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Do You Respond Like a Leader?

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on how playing to win shapes your leadership identity.

We have hundreds of interactions and situations we encounter in a day. They’re virtual and live; written and spoken. They take place via email, social media, phone calls, or in meetings and presentations. Your responses in any given interaction broadcast your leadership potential.

With this leadership identity trait, Dr. Frankel points out that many women are socialized to respond to situations in ways that are docile, polite, or acquiescent. Women are not typically taught to stand their ground or respond in powerful, assertive ways.

Think for a moment about how you respond to what’s happening around you. Many times you probably don’t give a conscious thought to your responses. Below are some of the ways your responses can communicate the wrong leadership message:

  • Believing that what got you here will get you there.
  • Allowing others’ opinions to have far too much leverage over your decisions.
  • Routinely putting the needs of others before your own.

We’ve all had these happen at one time or another. One of these on its own isn’t a deal breaker. But if any of these are responses you regularly engage in, it’s time to take a closer look at why it’s happening and what you can do to change it.

[Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Do You Play the Game to Win?

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on the power of verbal presence in shaping your leadership identity.


What comes to mind when you think of the word “business?”

a) A chess match or sport where people are playing to win

b) An event where people come together and collaborate

c) Both a and b

d) I don’t really think about it, I’m too busy

If you answered C, you’re correct. Business and the workplace in general, are both a grounds for collaboration and teamwork, but also competition.

According to Dr. Lois Frankel, “the workplace is a game. It has rules, boundaries, winners, and losers. Not only is it a game, but the rules of the game change from organization to organization and from department to department within an organization.”

Many women don’t view business or the workplace in this way. Instead they view it as a collaborative set of events, where people are coming together for a big goal or a great cause. While this may very well be the case in your organization or department – it’s not the only thing going on.

[Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Verbal Presence

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on the power of visual presence in shaping your leadership identity.

Think about last week at the office.  If you’re like most, you probably:

  • Sent and received a minimum of 100 emails per day.
  • Sent and received dozens of voicemails.
  • Took many calls in your car or from your cell phone.
  • Were on multiple conference calls and webinars, plus daily meetings.
  • Commented on various social and professional sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • Instant messaged, texted, Skyped, and Google Voiced.  (If you have children, you were probably checking on their social media, texting, and Skype activities.)

In today’s business world, the methods, the speed, and the sheer volume of communication can be overwhelming. The one thing all of these communications have in common?  They are completely second nature.  And because they’re second nature, we rarely see them for what they are – opportunities to be strategic and showcase our leadership identity through our verbal presence. [Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Visual Presence

This article is the fourth of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the third article of this series, on how our actions speak loudly when it comes to assertiveness, decisiveness, and confidence – all traits of a strong, effective leader.


“Research shows that about 55 percent of your credibility comes from how you look.  How you sound accounts for an additional 38 percent. Only 7 percent of your credibility is based on what you say.” – Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

On the surface, those numbers are a little intimidating.  It’s humbling to think that before someone even evaluates the substance of our message, that they are making quick judgments about us based on our visual and verbal presence.

Even if you’re a healthy skeptic on statistics, it’s smart to pay attention because this part of human nature – the continual evaluation our environment and the people around us – can help us to become better leaders.  We subconsciously filter information – we accept what we perceive as credible and release the rest – and yes, that “credibility filtering” mechanism initially includes paying close attention to how others look and how they sound.

When it comes to visual presence, a little fine tuning can go a long way in making an immediate impact on your leadership identity, and pave the way for others to truly value the substance of your message.  I’ve found that working on these “outside” attributes can give us momentum for the work that we’re doing on the “inside.”

[Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Actions

This article is the third of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D.  Be sure to refer back to the second article of this series, for practical ways you can actively cultivate your brand and shine a light on your expertise.

No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” In this article, we’re going to cover how you act, or those self-initiated behaviors that speak to your level of assertiveness, decisiveness, and confidence – all traits of a strong, effective leader.

Taking some wisdom from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Dr. Lois Frankel describes it this way:

“Success in the world of business depends on your ability to know your part and how to play it . . . we are judged by whether we understand the nuances of what it means to act professionally. [There are] subtle, stereotypical ways in which women behave that [can] contribute to an overall impression of their being less competent than they really are.”

Your job in developing your leadership identity is to become acutely aware of your actions – with colleagues, direct reports, and senior leadership.  What are they saying about you?  Are they saying you have confidence and future leadership abilities, or are they saying you aren’t quite ready yet for the big time? [Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Personal Brand

This article is the second of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity. 

In the first article of this series, I defined leadership identity and its importance to your career path, and the seven building blocks for creating and cultivating it.  One of those seven is how you brand and market yourself.

“Branding and marketing yourself” is a fancy phrase for how you choose to project what is unique, genuine, and quality about you.  I purposely use the word choose , because it is your choice to actively design and build awareness for your personal brand, or passively allow others to do it for you.  Your brand and how you cultivate awareness of it can determine what leadership opportunities you have in the future.

One of my mentors, Dr. Lois Frankel, describes it this way:

“Brand names get a reputation as a result of two things:  consistent quality and marketing.  One without the other doesn’t equate to staying power or success in the marketplace.”

If you take a closer look at those two things, consistent quality and marketing, I’d say many emerging women leaders have consistent quality down cold.  If anything, you may be so busy with consistent quality that you don’t invest enough in the second thing, marketing.   Why is that? [Read more...]

The Essential Building Blocks for Your Leadership Identity

In my work with emerging women leaders, I talk often about creating a leadership identity.  A lot of questions come up.  What is it?  How do I create it?  What does it mean to my leadership path and career?

So many great questions. With those in mind, I’ve decided to create a series on this important topic over the next several issues of Impact.  I’ll begin by painting the big picture of leadership identity and its building blocks.  Future articles will give you more detail on each building block, along with actionable tips you can put into practice, so you can create and enhance your unique identity.

First, let’s define leadership identity.  What is it?  [Read more...]