Too often – and definitely – too long have women viewed one another as competitors. Such an attitude often leads to judging, criticising, bad mouthing and an unwillingness to share success. Those of us with a collaborative mindset are on a mission to abolish these negative behaviours. I am an avid advocate of collaborating. Here is my take on how to move past the negative attitudes and how to focus on collaborating and being great!
We need to focus on the result we want to achieve. As females we want to be treated with respect, take on more leadership roles, receive higher pay, have more of us on boards of directors, increase the number of female business owners, leaders, bosses, and CEOs. We want to be taken seriously as business owners, entrepreneurs, innovators, creators, and leaders.
How do we do that? The answer is speaking out and collaborating. First, we have to take the lead and have discussions amongst ourselves about female collaboration, support, leadership, success and then we have to include the men.
Second, to successfully collaborate there are 3 vital factors that we need to incorporate: awareness, acknowledgement, and action. Let us take a look at how to apply them in our everyday and professional lives.
The only way to implement changes is to start with ourselves.
If we want to have positive, caring, helpful, ambitious women around us we need to start with how we view ourselves as well as other women. Do we tend to label and criticise or empower and support? It boils down to the mindset.
Instead of seeing a competitor in another woman see a collaborator, a mentor, a mentee, a business partner, a creative sparring colleague, or a motivator. We need to break the old ways and come together as a tribe.
It is up to us to make lasting changes at home, at work, and in our communities by characterising ambitious women as strong (and not “bossy”). Exchanging negative vocabulary with positive, diminishing judgement with praise, gossip with approval, fear with inspiration, and negativity with positivity. Let us focus on communication, openness, learning from one another and getting inspired. The way to create change is by uplifting and opening doors for other talented, ambitious females.
We must be conscious and raise awareness by taking a look at the women in our closest circles. How do they speak to and about other women? How do they define success? Is there room at the top for more than one of us?
After that take a look in the mirror and ask yourself – How do I perceive other successful, ambitious, driven, hard-working women?
Where are my pain points? Is it competitiveness, lack of confidence, fear? Do I project that on other females? What can I do about these pain points?
Achieving goals and having a flourishing career does not happen on its own, people play an important role every step of the way. We can not thrive alone. Each one of us has had someone else who helped us somewhere along the way. Why not do the same?
Looking back someone saw potential in you, they saw talent and took a chance on you. Women supporting women starts with showing respect, seeing and listening to each other. It comes from a positive approach and taking a chance on someone less experienced, more experienced, younger, older, more creative… It is about extending a helping hand, simply because you can!
The Be Great Collaborate mindset was born with truly understanding what networking means. I believe that collaboration comes from great networking. You can not expect to find great, like- minded people unless you network. This means: giving value, being respectful of people’s time and attention, reaching out to people who are like-minded, open, successful, inspirational, and motivating to you. Being curious about them and their professional life is a key element. Networking is a process, it will not happen overnight. It is a long term investment and it is hard work. When you give value, share your passion, and you are authentic, people will be drawn to you. Today, we can use such great tools as personal branding and social media to show our skills and talents, to share knowledge and raise awareness.
Meeting people at networking events is great but be mindful of which events you choose.
Attend those events, conferences, and workshops that you find interesting, useful and that will allow you to meet people in your field. Do not be afraid to reach out to someone who is advertising an event you want to attend. Show interest, introduce yourself and ask if you can also join. It does require courage and you will need to step out of the comfort zone.
When you meet a few people who share your values, mindset, and passion it will lead to more and more meaningful connections and possibilities to collaborate. Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will end up as your collaborator. Networking is about establishing and growing relationships. Sometimes, that chemistry is just not there, and that is ok. Collaboration can not be forced. It has to come naturally and from both sides.
Your approach and mindset are the key players in sustainable connections. Make a conscious effort to reach out to people you find interesting, have the willingness to collaborate, establish meaningful visions and projects, give support, share each other’s successes and failures, communicate clearly and honestly. These actions may result in fruitful collaborations.
When you meet these like-minded people and you feel you have chemistry work on the relationship and you may find yourself collaborating sooner than later. Do not be afraid to express to your collaborators that you feel it in your bones that they are your people. Be their advocate, promote, support and all of you will benefit.
I have been lucky to surround myself with great women. What my collaborators have in common is that we all have the same mindset when it comes to women and collaboration. The pie is big enough for all. We also firmly believe that each woman is unique and that no one can duplicate 1:1 the skills and talents of another individual. People may copy what you do but they can not recreate what you do.
The longer we work together, the more we see a need to step up and speak out about the need to collaborate. We are stronger when united and capable of so much more. Collaboration is a joy when you decide to open yourself up to like-minded, value sharing, authentic women. Things just start to fall into place.
That is why my good friend – and collaborator – Céline Martin-Pedersen and myself decided that we are launching the #BeGreatCollaborate movement and speak out about female collaboration. We hope you join us – Dare to Be Great and Collaborate!