How to Be a Successful Career Woman; 6 Insightful Tips from Sheryl Sandberg

How to be a successful career woman

How to be a successful career woman; the below are tips are from one of the most successful business women of all time – Sheryl Sandberg:

  1. Lean In
  2. Your career doesn’t have to be linear
  3. Be flexible
  4. Don’t be afraid to move laterally or even backwards
  5. Take initiative
  6. Believe in yourself

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #1: Lean In

“Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women” 

Sheryl says that it is crucial to never underestimate your abilities and always negotiate for yourself, actively reaching for new opportunities and promotions.

To do this she encourages women to ‘sit at the table’ and ‘lean in’ at work.

For the career advice of another female billionaire, check out my post on Oprah Winfreys’ Advice on How to Get Ahead in Your Career

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #2: You Career Doesn’t have to Be Linear

Sheryl describes her career as less of a ladder and more of a “jungle gym”.

In her book she talks of the many detours, barriers and successes she enjoyed en route to being Facebooks’ COO.

She worked at The World Bank, McKinsey, The US Treasury Dept., and then Google before joining Facebook. (all very different organisations)

The women who helped define Sandbergs’ career and who she gives credit to in her book, Pattie Sellars says:

“Agility is the most important personal characteristic you can have to succeed in this fast-changing environment,”

“If you plan your career too much, you’re going to come up against walls. You have to be agile.”

how to be a successful career woman; picture of a jungle gym

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #3: Be Flexible

“There is no straight path to where you are going.

If you try to draw that line you will not just get it wrong, but you will miss big opportunities.” 

Her advice is to have an 1) 18 month plan and 2) a long term dream.

For the 18 month plan, have specific goals for what you want to learn in that time.

The long term dream doesn’t have to be specific, it can be more a direction of travel i.e. work for yourself, retire at 55, etc

Then ask yourself how you can improve and what are you afraid to do.

She encourages you to do the thing you are usually afraid to do!

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #4: Don’t be afraid to move laterally or even backwards

“One of the most important times that I see people not jump when they should is about changing either industries or functions.

There are so many times I’ve seen people not make that jump because they’re afraid they’re ‘moving backward.”

A less direct path can often take you to where you want to be faster and easier than a more obvious path.

Sandberg herself moved from Washington, DC to Silicon Valley in 2001 and struggled for 10 months to get a job.

Instead of giving up and going back to work in a government role, she got a job offer from Google.

My experience:

I’ve always tried to move roles, companies and industries as I was bored or didn’t enjoy the work.

After 14 years or moving between very different roles, I can honestly say my skill-set is broader than many of my peers and I’m much more confident in my ability.

With a broader CV and range of skills, you are will back yourself more when it comes to securing better and better roles, and the cycle repeats.

You also get to see a wider variety of roles and people doing these roles.

You may think you’re happy working for one department or company until you find yourself much happier in a different department or company.

Moving roles, companies, industries may be tough to do in the beginning but it will pay off in the long run.

Not sure what you want to do? Confused by your options? If so, read my post on 3 Proven Tools to Help You Choose a Career’

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #5: Take Initiative

“Taking initiative pays off. It’s hard to visualise someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do”

Taking initiative at work is how you get ahead in your career.

It will make you stand out, get you recognition and help develop your personal brand.

It will help you to solve problems, save resources, improve processes all of which will make you be noticed by senior management.

Taking initiative and tackling the tough problems at work are the things that will look great on your CV and help you nail that interview for a better role.

how to be a successful career woman; initiative slogan

How to Be a Successful Career Woman #6: Believe in Yourself

“Believe you can do anything. This is important for everyone and especially for women. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t have both a meaningful professional career and a fulfilling personal life.

When you hear someone say you can’t do something, know that you can and start figuring out how. Ask yourself, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?'”

Are you unsure about which career path to follow? You have a vague idea what you might want to do, but are not really sure?

If so, check out my free online course on ‘How to Find Your Perfect Career’. It is 5 tried and tested exercises that I’ve used to take me from jobs I hated in my 20’s to a job I LOVE now!

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Hi, I’m Paul. I’m a Finance Director with 14 years experience working for big multinational companies.

I interviewed 100 graduates about their career paths and advice for a young generation.

This blog aims to help young people figure out their career paths.

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