• Fri, Jan 13 2012

Men Exaggerate Their Achievements To Get Ahead. Should Women Start Stretching The Truth?

For years, business women have heard that they are too meek, mild-mannered and insecure. We’ve been told that our negotiation skills are lacking and our ambitions are short-sighted. It always seems to be that women aren’t doing what we need to if we want to compete with men. We’re “rounding down” our careers and selling ourselves short. Well ladies, guess what else you aren’t doing that may be hurting your career path? Lying.

Okay, okay. “Exaggerating.” A new study is out from several business schools, including Columbia, that suggests women in the workplace aren’t “puffing up” their career accomplishments. To use an obnoxiously over-used phrase, we aren’t touting our own horns. And that’s a problem.

Vickie Milazzo, author of the New York Times bestseller, Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman, says that female executives need to get comfortable singing their own praises. ”To match the success men can have in the business world, women need to be comfortable with talking about their achievements,” says Milazzo. “It’s about ultra positioning. Clearly, we females need to take a page from the male playbook and make sure that we’re getting the recognition and credit we’ve earned. Your boss, for example, wants to know that she bet on a winner when she hired you!”

Unfortunately, I completely understand some women’s hesitancy to brag about all their accomplishments. We’ve seen the few women in the office who constantly try to make themselves look better than everyone else and it doesn’t seem to work the same way for women. These ladies come off as brash, pushy and heartless. They are often seen as presumptuous and they are more likely to have work drama than businesswomen who take a more reserved approach.

While “exaggerating” their accomplishments may help some men get ahead, are we sure that it’s going to do the same thing for women? Is it possible that ladies might need to operate in a different way, because we still have different expectations put on us by society and our companies? Maybe the solution isn’t to do whatever men do, I believe that women need to find their own way to balance this scale.

Morality in business is always a tricky question and it’s one that rarely gets you a top office. I think most of us can agree on that. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be true to oneself and still be successful in your career. In fact, you can probably sustain your achievement longer if it’s based on a solid and secure foundation. If the men in your office are over-selling themselves, you might be able to distinguish yourself as always delivering on what you promised. Let them use hyperbole and exaggeration. Spend your time meeting every deadline and surpassing every goal.

I don’t think the solution is to use the same tired tricks that men use. Perhaps women should be more concerned with changing the entire playing field to make it leveler and a little bit more honest. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?

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