Dame-Up: Removing Knives So We Can Change The World

“I don’t want you here. My job is to make sure you never get a chance to work with me or my team. If I can do that, I’ve succeeded. If in three months anybody in this organization is working with you, then I have failed.”

Thus began my first consulting meeting with a certain female leader. Her CEO, with whom I was already working, had requested that I assist her in any way possible. The meeting kicked-off with an awkward handshake, since she would not get up from behind her desk to greet me. She was good at eye-contact, although the expression reminded me of Carrie in the Stephen King movie right before somebody burst into flames.

I might as well have left right then, because no matter how much I tried to find out how I could help her, or stressed I that would wear camouflage and stand in the background with a bush on my head like someone from Duck Dynasty, the conversation went downhill from there.

Recent stats show that most women feel their corporate success has been significantly hampered by at least one or more females. Most of the women I have coached in the past tell the same story. [quote button_text=”Tweet the Quote”]Perhaps the stereotype of the cat fight is being fortified as much by women as the men who hope we will wrestle.[/quote]

The Dalai Lama once said, “The world will be saved by the western woman.” I believe this statement is going to prove itself to be true, but we have some work to do first.

How do we remove a few knives from our backs and join forces to change the world? I asked this question through different social media venues, and here are a few responses that I received from other women:

  • Kill the “queen bee” attitude. Women often take out other women because they know they’re an easier target than the men.
  • Mentor and guide each other without concern for losing our own position to another woman.
  • Show more confidence in meetings, and be clear when making a request.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for what is needed, and don’t be afraid of getting “no” as a response.
  • Value cooperation and achievement over recognition.
  • Network with each other. Recommend each other for jobs.
  • Stop requiring that everyone be friends. Focus on getting good work done.

I would add a couple more:

  • Don’t back down. If you are battling for something at work, don’t retreat at the first sign of counter-attack. Women are used to underground, quiet maneuvers. Men are more aggressive. Stay calm, but don’t give up unless they can prove that their suggestion is better.
  • Stop confusing friendship with performance.  The most successful, dynamic teams work together, but they don’t have to be friends. They can dislike and disagree with each other as long as they respect each other’s knowledge and skills. I have witnessed women forcing other women out who were top producers  just because they didn’t “like” them. Be supportive of each other, but realize that performance success is critical in any business.

Women have been taught to fight other women because there’s not much room for us in executive positions. I say we create more room at the top rather than fighting inside the bottleneck. Are you with me? If so, I would love to have you answer the following question. If not, then I’m pretty sure you don’t like the rest of this article.

If western women are to save the world, what else can we do to first save each other in the work environment?