Seven Mistakes Professional Women Can Make

Now & Then | Written By, NOW!Singapore | April 23rd, 2015
Steph Chu

By steph chu

In my 16 years working with Accenture, it always fascinated me that the female leaders that I knew of (myself included) all tended to make the same mistakes! I have made all of the seven mistakes that I am about to share, all of which caused me to burn out quite spectacularly. Only after working with an executive coach did I realise what I was doing wrong. By sharing these mistakes, I hope to save you the pain of burning out so you can achieve great strides in your career.

MISTAKE #1 :

If I WANT IT DONE RIGHT, I HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF.

Women have a false and unfair reputation for being control freaks. We want to do everything ourselves and we cannot sleep unless we have control over the minutiae. It means we risk neglecting the tasks we are supposed to focus on and waste our energy doing work that could be completed by others.

Solution :
• Have a clear task list or work plan with all the high level tasks spelled out. Farm out these tasks to the relevant people within your team.

• Structure your teams to ensure you have the right skill sets for the various roles.

• Have periodic meetings with your team so you can update the project’s status and help each other to resolve any issues.

MISTAKE #2 :
I DONT THINK I CAN LEAD. THEY PROMOTED THE WRONG PERSON!

Secretly, many of us doubt our ability to lead a team and to deliver. We have been conditioned since we were little to follow, to not cause a scene and to play nice. As such, we grow up not flexing our leadership muscles and sometimes, we only start to learn how to lead after we join the workforce.

Solution :
• Start taking the lead on smaller items in your life. If your partner always makes the vacation plans, step up and plan for the next one. Once completed successfully, step up for other tasks.

• Reflect on and make a list of what you believe about your ability as a leader. For all the negative beliefs, replace them with ones that are positive. Find evidence from your past that can substantiate them too.

• Read your positive list daily and say it out loud in the mirror.

MISTAKE #3 :
I HAVE THESE PEOPLE IN MY TEAM. WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM ?

Even if we recognise the power of a team, sometimes we do not know how to set up a perfect one. What does an optimum team look like? How do we structure our own?

Solution :
• Start by creating an organisational chart with a lead role for every major

phase of work, for example, a design team leader, build team leader and so on.

• Based on the amount of work required for each phase, we can staff each department with an appropriate number of people.

• As the phases of work pick up or slow down, shift the team members around as required. This optimises efficiency and builds resources with multiple skill sets.

MISTAKE #4 :
I DONT THINK I CAN LEAD. THEY PROMOTED THE WRONG PERSON!

There are times when we feel we are the only person delivering any real work. Even though we have delegated tasks out and have set up a team structure, we don’t see any real results.

Solution :
• Discuss priorities with your team. If they are not clear on the big picture, they may not have the same priorities as you.

• Find out from your team if they are facing any issues that they haven’t discussed with you. Address their concerns.

MISTAKE #5 :
MY TEAM IS NOT MOTIVATED A confused team is an unmotivated team. When teams do not know what they are trying to achieve, over time, they risk losing motivation. This will result in low morale and low productivity.

Solution :
• Communicate the overall goal to your team. Make sure they are clear on what you are all trying to achieve. Share the big picture with them.

• Have regular meetings with your team so you can update them on the progress and also get status updates from them.

• Clear and regular communication is the best way to keep the team up-to-date and motivated.

MISTAKE #6 :
WHY DOES EVERYONE RELY ON ME ON EVERYTHING ?

It’s easy to become the bottleneck when we want to make all the decisions and have a say in every outcome. When our teams are not empowered to make any decisions, the power of the team is compromised.

Solution :
• Empower your teams to make certain decisions. For example, enable your team lead to make decisions that fall within a set budget like $5k. Anything beyond this will have to be cleared with you.

• To fully leverage your team, team leaders will have to be able to make certain decisions. You can start with smaller and less risky decisions. Once the team leaders have proved that they are able to make practical decisions, you can allow them to make more important ones.

MISTAKE #7 :
I HAVE NO ONE TO TALK TO.

Regardless of whether you are a new manager or a senior leader, you may not feel comfortable discussing ideas with your peers or supervisors in your company. Sometimes it is good to have a neutral third party to bounce ideas off of.

Solution :

• Engage an executive coach so you have a neutral third party to discuss ideas with.

• If the coach you engage has experience in your industry then they can double as mentor, if you require one.

Steph Chu is a Leadership Coach who has spent 16 years in Accenture, gaining a reputation as a fire-fighter who saves projects that are falling behind. She does this by building and leveraging the peak performance of her teams.

Steph is also the author of, soon to be published, “Building High Performance Teams for Women Leaders”.

Email: enquiry@stephchu.com Website: http://www.stephchu.com/

LinkedIn: Steph Chu

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephChuCoaching Twitter: @StephChuCoach

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