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12 Habits That Might Be Holding You Back at Work and What to Do Instead

Is 2023 the year of changing habits? Post-pandemic I am still struggling to get into a routine. Even before that, I've always been a sucker for books about habits––habit building, habit stacking, habit systems, you get the idea... Not that it means I have been successful in changing my habits... but I do keep trying! This is why I was attracted to Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith's book, "How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job."

Other books I have read and loved about habits (Jame Clear's Atomic Habits or the classic Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People), never really considered habits by gender, which it turns out, is quite interesting and revealing. Yes, reading "How Women Rise," there were definitely moments where "I felt seen."

Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith's book, "How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job."

So, what are these 12 habits that are holding women back? They include things like downplaying our achievements, overvaluing expertise, and the perfection trap. Here is a summary:

  1. Reluctance to claim your achievements. Women tend to downplay their successes and hesitate to take credit for their accomplishments. This habit can limit their visibility and impact in the workplace.

  2. Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions. Women often assume that their hard work and dedication will be noticed and rewarded without them having to speak up for themselves. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and women who don't advocate for themselves may miss out on opportunities.

  3. Overvaluing expertise. While expertise is certainly valuable, it's not the only thing that matters in the workplace. Women who focus too much on their own expertise may be perceived as lacking in leadership potential.

  4. Building rather than leveraging relationships Women tend to prioritize building strong relationships with their colleagues, which is important. However, they may not always leverage those relationships to advance their own careers.

  5. Failing to enlist allies from day one. Women may hesitate to ask for help or support from others, but enlisting allies early on in their careers can help them build momentum and accelerate their progress.

  6. Putting your job before your career. Women who focus too much on their day-to-day responsibilities may miss out on opportunities to build their skills and reputation outside of their immediate role.

  7. The perfection trap. Women often feel pressure to be perfect, which can lead to overwork, burnout, and missed opportunities.

  8. The disease to please. Women are often socialized to prioritize the needs of others over their own. While being kind and considerate is important, it's also crucial for women to advocate for themselves and their own goals.

  9. Minimizing. Women may downplay their strengths or accomplishments, which can make it harder for others to see their value.

  10. Too much. Women who take on too much may spread themselves too thin, sacrificing their own well-being and effectiveness.

  11. Ruminating. Women may dwell on mistakes or setbacks, which can undermine their confidence and resilience.

  12. Letting your radar distract you. Women may get caught up in monitoring their environment for potential problems, which can make it hard for them to focus on their own goals and priorities.

Can you relate to any of these? In the book, these 12 habits are illustrated with real-life examples that were engaging and relatable, and packed with insights into how the habits hold women back from reaching their full potential in the workplace. Most importantly, the book offers advice on how to change these habits. Here are four examples of how to change:

Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith's book, "How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job."
credit: PWC, Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

Whether you're just starting out in your career or you're a seasoned leader looking to break through to the next level, this book is a useful guide. Let me know what you think!


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