Questions and Answers with Career Expert Selena Rezvani
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Selena Rezvani is author of The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School, which we’ve reviewed here.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||One piece of conventional wisdom about professional life is that no one is indispensable — yet you tell women what they can do to aspire to be indispensable. How do you reconcile these two perspectives on indispensability?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||While no one can feel 100 percent certain in their jobs today, you need to know the value you bring to your employer. Your value comes from those areas where you are heavily relied upon or contribute something substantive (such as projects that positively impact the bottom line). Where value is concerned, the more of it you create, the more bargaining chips you have when it comes time to ask for a promotion, raise, or resource. There may not be guaranteed long-term employment in today’s workplace, but there is still a thing called leverage.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||In the same section on indispensability, you advise women to be sure their supervisors know of their contributions. What’s the best way for them to communicate this information to higher-ups, and how often should they do so?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||As an employee, the onus is on you to keep an inventory of all your successes and accomplishments. The next–equally overlooked step — is to be sure that your manager is aware of your accomplishments. I recommend setting up a routine check-in meeting once every two weeks and discussing results achieved, workload status, challenges, and successes. If a meeting must be missed, send your manager an email recounting updates on these areas. The key is to take total ownership over keeping the company apprised of your achievements and reminding them of your value.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||One workforce constituency you don’t talk about much in your book is … men. To what extent did the women you interviewed offer any advice on interacting with men in the workplace?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||An interesting theme I heard over and again was to be careful about being self-deprecating around men. For example, resist the urge to qualify your ideas with phrases like, “I’m sorry if this is a silly idea…,” “Someone else may have already said this…” or “This might be off-topic…” The women I interviewed emphasized that men will often take you at face value, so if you tell them your idea is silly, they will probably believe you. For most of us, this is the opposite message we want to promote about ourselves. When sharing your ideas with men, stand behind your opinions affirmatively, knowing they may not be embraced every single time.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Pick a question from the list of questions you used to interview the women cited in your book and respond to it.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Q: What would you like your legacy to be?
A: That I helped women — particularly young women — to think big about their careers, to take professional risks, and to not readily accept barriers.
Selena Rezvani is author of The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School, which we’ve reviewed here. When she’s not advising corporate clients on engaging their female workforce, Selena is coaching individual clients on how to step up to leadership. She’s looking forward to her upcoming speaking engagements that will take her from her hometown of Philadelphia to San Francisco, Miami, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Roanoke, and Baltimore. In the coming months, Selena will present her leadership strategies at the Virginia Tech Women MBAs conference, the PA Governor’s Conference, at POWER: Opening Doors for Women presented by Comcast, and YGN — the Young Girl’s Network. She is a regular commentator on NPR’s nationally syndicated The 51% Perspective and writes a women and leadership column for The Washington Post. For more information, visit her Website.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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