Three Steps For Breaking The Glass Ceiling

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The idea of a glass ceiling at a workplace is not a myth—except that not everyone hits it. So, I took it upon myself to attend several conferences and interview different leaders in the community and at various corporations to learn about their journey toward breaking the glass ceiling. Here are some of my findings.


1) Do good work.


In Episode 17 of Smart Career PlanningGizelle Robinson shared how she made several major moves in her career, all of which led to her taking a step back, from being a people manager to an individual contributor. However, within several years, she was asked to step up and lead a team of people. Not only does Gizelle give her best to all she does, she also commits herself to giving back to the community and empowering young men and women with leadership skills.


Lessons I learned from Gizelle: People in power should align themselves with capable people. At the right time, your hard work will be noticed. Combined with paying attention, you can leverage your relationships to advance in your career. Also, when you give back, you are putting yourself in an abundance mindset. The opposite of abundance is lack. If you operate in a mindset of lack (lack of money, power, friends, love), you will be fighting an uphill battle.


2) Sometimes you must step back to step forward.


In Episode 18, I interviewed Dana Shaw-Arimoto. Dana graced us with nuggets of wisdom she learned in her two-decade career journey.


Dana looks at her career path as if she’s drawing a map for herself. An operations and human resources leader, Dana considers her options carefully. Every opportunity that comes her way, she thinks through the implications, the story she is writing for herself, the kind of impact she can make in the organization, and how that journey will enrich her. To Dana, it is not always about reaching for a “better” title but about looking at a bigger picture.


3) To be the part; you have to play the part first.


A community leader at a book signing event I attended recently shared the following inspiring story.


An internal promotion was coming up at work. She really wanted it, so she began to socialize with people around her at work. As part of the interview process, all the applicants had to come up with a proposal describing how they would enact a particular major organizational change. Somehow she learned what the other applicants would be presenting. But she thought to herself, “To make a major change, you can’t just make a shift; you need to be completely different.” So, she put together a bold and radical proposal. She knew the hiring committee most likely reject it, but she believed in her proposal, so she went for it.


As you might have guessed, she did not get the promotion. But through the creative process of assembling the proposal, she realized that she didn’t need the title to make that change within her organization. She could take baby steps and create a wave of influence around her to make that change, and that’s exactly what she did.


We all have made small or big steps to break our personal or professional glass ceiling, and the short list above includes just a few examples. If you have a personal story you’d like to share, please email me.