“I never asked!”
Margaret Arakawa, CMO at Outreach shared a phenomenal story at her company’s “Gals in Sales” event in Seattle.
In her previous role at Microsoft, she was asked to interview candidates to be her new boss. But halfway through the process, she realized,
“I can do this job.”
Problem was, she’d never let anyone know.
Margaret’s story isn’t uncommon. More than one-third of #GirlsClub participants say they hesitate to ask for development or discuss their career goals for fear of wasting people’s time. This fuels the “Confidence Gap” that HP found a few years ago stating that women wait to raise their hands for positions until they feel 100% ready (whereas men raise their hand at about 60%).
What you may not get yet, is that Margaret is AMAZING. Seriously, check her out on LinkedIn, I’ll wait. Look at that pedigree! Yeah, that’s Microsoft. That’s Intel. Wharton – check. And Northwestern. I’m feeling more and more inferior as I type this. Ladies, if Margaret felt intimidated to raise her hand it just automatically flat out makes it OK for the rest of us to feel that way. Done deal.
But this story has a different ending. Because Margaret screwed up the courage (I call this putting on my big girl pants) and asked her boss to be considered for the position. Please note. She didn’t yell that she wasn’t considered. She didn’t blame him for the humiliating experience of interviewing people less competent than herself. She didn’t ever assume she was secretly being disrespected or marginalized. She simply realized she hadn’t communicated and she fixed it.
And his reaction?
“I had no idea.”
Margaret quickly found her way to the top of that organization and others. I won’t say that it STARTS by raising your hand because it doesn’t. It starts by being exceptional, working hard, having great ideas, following up – you know, all the things you’re already doing.
But the next part of your story starts with raising your hand and communicating your desires. Not sure how? Check out our hour webinar on “Earn That Promotion: Asking For It The Right Way” where we cover not only throwing your hat in the ring but the EARLY step of letting folks know you HAVE a hat and want to learn more about the ring.
In summary, I hear this story over and over. Why are there not more women in sales? Sure, there’s bias in the job descriptions, there are boys’ clubs that make us feel on the outside, the numbers are against us. But I assert that we ourselves are often our own worst enemy.
If you’ve read this and you have not talked with your boss in the past 6 months about where you want to go with your career, please make that appointment immediately. Not an appointment to demand, cajole, complain, or convince. A meeting to discuss, learn, absorb advice, and consider.
It’s step one. And it certainly served Margaret well.