Over the years, I have found the concept of “doing it yourself, but not doing it alone” exceptionally helpful to me personally, to our Women Unlimited participants and to organizations as a whole.
“Doing it alone” is often symptomatic of larger problems. For women, it can signal two career-stymieing obstacles: perfectionism and risk aversion. For organizations, it can mean being out of touch with best practices, innovative trends and demographic shifts.
Too often women believe that to prove themselves, they have to do it all. We often see this trend among talented women as they begin our development programs. They are reluctant to delegate, to seek out others for advice and information, or to develop much-needed internal and external support networks.
As these women begin to recognize that trying to do it all themselves has limited them and held them back, they become more willing to reach out to others, resulting in extraordinary benefits to both them and their organizations.
For example, when they realize they are not solo players in their organizations, women begin to create networks that keep them informed about the organizational landscape and their role in it. When they effectively delegate, women find themselves better able to focus on leveraging their talents and skills to positively impact the organization. They move beyond just getting the work done. Plus, they have more time to devote to their personal lives.
With the help of internal and external support networks, women begin to change behaviors and attitudes that often get in the way of their immediate and long-term success.
Finally, when women understand and embrace the power of reaching out, they become more willing to take needed steps to open up new opportunities for success. They are more likely to seek out career-advancing feedback from their managers, take on projects that make them more visible, and make themselves known to corporate movers and shakers.
There are also benefits to organizations when women stop doing it all alone.
What I call “internal think” is part and parcel of many organizations. It can rear its head in a variety of ways: departments and divisions not interacting with other entities in the organization; managers failing to reach out to other managers; CEOs and top management staying isolated from other organizations within and outside their industry.
There are many reasons why it happens. Competitive concerns, day-to-day pressures of getting the job done, or the belief that they have it right and there is no need for outreach.
As we work with our corporate partners, we often serve as a conduit for organizations to come together to discuss major issues and initiatives, especially around gender parity. Over and over, we see that old adage come to life: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Here are just a few examples of what happens when corporations and their entities go beyond their borders:
- Companies begin to think in new, often profitable ways. They are able to get outside their own heads and see things differently and more creatively.
- Top executives are able to expand their networks and reach out to those in like positions who clearly understand the challenges of being a C-suite leader.
- Alliances on similar issues are formed, eliminating duplication and often saving money.
- Problem-solving improves through interdivisional and interorganizational outreach and brainstorming. As a result, different viewpoints provide effective and formerly not-considered solutions.
In my more than 25 years of working with corporations and their talented women, I have found that combating the “doing it alone” mindset is a battle worth fighting. There is a liberating effect that comes from forging relationships with those who, at times, see the world the same way you do and, at others, broaden your horizons.
Both individuals and corporations have a great deal to gain from expanding contacts and collaborations. The payoffs resonate professionally and personally. In many ways, reaching out can be a lifeline to greater success at work and beyond.