Climbing the Corporate Ladder in High Heels
- Monday, February 26, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Lynette Lewis's book, Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos: 10 Strategies for Stepping Up to Success and Satisfaction at Work, (Thomas Nelson, 2006).
Climbing a ladder is challenging enough when you’re wearing comfortable shoes, but it’s especially difficult to ascend in stiletto heels. That’s what climbing the corporate ladder often feels like to women pursuing success and satisfaction at work. The challenges that women uniquely face can make you frustrated enough to step off the ladder. But if you keep climbing as God leads you, you’ll find something valuable on every rung.
Here’s how you can climb the corporate ladder in high heels:
Understand why you’re working. Recognize that your job should be more than just a way to earn money and fulfill obligations. Know that the right job for you will align with your passions and give you opportunities to contribute your unique talents in meaningful ways. Ask yourself what is motivating you to go to work each day, and why you’ve chosen your current job. Pray for God to help you discover your purpose.
Make time to reflect well on the insights you receive, and write down a purpose statement for your life. Then use your purpose statement to make wise decisions about what type of work to choose. Focus on why you want to work instead of what you want to do, keeping in mind that you may have many jobs during various seasons of life that will help you accomplish your central purpose.
Become a whole person who brings hope to broken people. Acknowledge all the ways you need healing to become a whole person – complete, secure, and resilient in just about any circumstance. Be honest about your pain and admit your mistakes. Ask God to heal you and help you develop new, healthy patterns of thinking and relating to others. Whenever you encounter conflict in your workplace, recognize that it’s growth trying to happen. Consider what the higher good of the conflict is and use that knowledge to help solve the problem. View your workplace as a practice field for greatness.
Seek to become an agent of wholeness to broken coworkers. When they hurt you, don’t become easily offended. Instead, take time to understand them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask God to help you see beyond their difficult behaviors to their hearts, and to show them mercy rather than judgment. Speak only positive words about others. Affirm other people and celebrate their successes. Bring comfort and encouragement to them when they fail. As you pursue your goals, care more about people than about results. Cheer others on to become all they are meant to be. Be modest and honest about your own strengths and shortcomings. Be patient and trustworthy. Build a workplace environment that you and your coworkers can truly enjoy.
Be creative when you don’t feel appreciated. Understand that your desire to be recognized and rewarded for all you contribute at work is legitimate. Whenever you feel underutilized, either look beyond your job description to try something new, or find new ways to work within it. Ask God to give you a fresh perspective on your work. Don’t wait for formal permission to do what’s in your heart; go ahead and get started on an endeavor you feel passionate about, without neglecting your regular work. Think of innovative ways you can add to your job to make it more fulfilling for you. Volunteer to tackle challenging tasks that will broaden your skills, network with other people, join professional associations, or take classes to keep growing professionally.
Whenever you feel underpaid, remember that you’re not a victim of your circumstances and that you do have choices: look for another job, negotiate a pay raise, work toward a promotion, or add another job. Stay positive -- considering the value of the work experience you’re currently gaining, even though your paycheck isn’t as large as you’d like. Whenever you’re in a leadership position at work, be sure to generously show your appreciation to the people you’re in charge of leading.
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