By Eryka T Johnson
More and more women are completing college and entering the corporate world. However, dreams of success quickly become nightmarish as emerging women leaders struggle to navigate office politics and adjust to the unspoken rules of corporate. If you make the wrong move, over step boundaries, or simply appear to be overly confident (cocky!) too early in your career, beware. There are lessons to be learned while taming the “beast of corporate.” These same lessons could ensure your career success. Today, let’s discuss the 3 things I wish I knew 15 years ago when entering corporate.
I remember when I began my career as a mechanical engineer with ExxonMobil after graduating from Prairie View A&M University. I was at the top of the class throughout my college career and knew once I began work it would be a piece of cake. Because I worked in a competitive environment, I assumed the best thing for me was to keep to myself, put my head down, and do my work without the help of others. I needed to display my talents and live up to my name of Superstar. Well, that way of thinking did not turn out the way I envisioned. Instead, I failed miserably and later had to play “catch-up” to get back into the game.
Because of my failure, I feel it is my duty to educate emerging women leaders on assimilating into the corporate environment to successfully fulfill their career goals. Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time or re-inventing yourself in the workplace, these three things could help you get off to a great start.
Build a network. Networks are necessary connections. Even if there are no affinity groups at the workplace that you feel drawn to look for one outside the job with like-minded individuals. You need to get around people who have huge visions and can offer you community and support. The belief that you must do things alone so you get all the credit is faulty thinking. Think about it…anything major that has been built (including brands, businesses, etc.) involved the assistance of others – a network or community. You can get to where you are going much faster if you surround yourself with people who can assist you on the journey.
Communicate your BIG plans often. I have heard stories of individuals entering the workplace and telling their bosses that they one day wanted to be the CEO of the company. Kind of egotistical, right? Well, not quite. I have learned that you must daily speak to your future. Set expectations and communicate them often to your boss. This will keep you accountable. Also, as a woman of faith, I believe that words have power and substance. Words have the ability to change things. In fact, mere words created the entire world. Chart your course with affirming words and open communication.
Seek mentorship. Having a good mentor is priceless. If you desire to cut down on the amount of time to know the do’s and don’ts of your work environment, find a good mentor. Someone you can relate to who has the heart of a true leader. Someone who is confident in their own capability and love to build others. Again, if there is no formal mentoring program at your workplace, ask someone directly for their mentorship.
If I only knew 15 years ago what I know today about corporate, things could have been different.
Do you have any lessons you do not mind sharing? I would love to hear them. Run over to our Facebook community and share.
Eryka T. Johnson
Leadership Brand Strategist, Author & Keynote Speaker