“I am being undermined by a male peer at work. If I go to my boss and tell him what this guy is saying about me is not true, will my boss see me as selfish and self-serving?”
“My boss is encouraging me to apply for a position that would be a significant promotion for me. Why me? I have peers that would be good in this role, too. Will my peers see me as selfish if I apply for it?”
“I am burning out in my job because I am a supervisor, but I feel guilty and selfish delegating to my staff, so I do a lot myself instead of asking them.”
“I applied for a job, but I haven’t heard back from the woman who interviewed me. I am reluctant to call or e-mail her to follow up—I don’t want to be seen as pushy or self-serving.”
“I have been invited to give a TED Talk, but doing so does not relate directly to the work I am doing. The opportunity could provide me with a credential in the future if I ever change jobs, but taking the time away from my work projects to prepare this presentation feels selfish.”
Joyce Fletcher, in her book Disappearing Acts
, addresses the need to replace the stereotype of women as “selfless” with a concrete understanding of the effectiveness of a relational leadership style. Adam Grant, in his new book Give and Take
, reports on research showing that givers are more successful than takers—as long as they don’t “sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others.” In other words, the best strategy is a “both/and” approach—you can be focused on the needs of others and
on your own interests. Here are some tips that helped my clients take care of their own interests:
- Stand up for yourself. If a peer, male or female, is undermining you by saying negative things about your work, letting your boss know your side of the story—and confronting your peer—is important. Let the person know you are not going to let him or her damage your credibility.
- Put yourself forward for promotions. Research shows that many women hesitate to apply for promotions. In an ideal world, both you and your peers would openly encourage one another, if interested, to apply for promotions and then commit to fully supporting whoever is promoted. Even in the absence of the ideal, you can, and should, apply.
- Avoid burnout. Check in regularly with your staff about their workload and help them prioritize their work. If the load is too heavy for them and for you, go to your boss and ask her or him to prioritize your workload or to take some things off your plate.
Taking care of yourself and your future is not being selfish; rather, taking care of yourself will make you a better employee, boss, and colleague.]]>