How many times have we heard that mentors are key? Irene Lang, CEO of Catalyst believes that women often lack mentors to “guide and protect them in unsettled economic times.” In a recent article in the WSJ called Women Lag Further in Reaching Executive Ranks she states that mentors were shown to be a key to women’s advancement.
I know that all of us, introverts and extroverts, find it difficult to ask for help. We think we need to “have it all together” in today’s competitive corporate cultures. But I wonder; Do quieter women leaders shy away more than their vocal counterparts from reaching out to experienced leaders? In some companies, can being less verbal and more vulnerable derail your career?
Melissa, a savvy introverted marketing director and coaching client worked in a male dominated service business. She came to me with the news that the newly appointed company president, Lani, was a female. A fast rising star, Lani had jumped through the hoops and placed her last company’s brand on the world map. Melissa was pleased that at last there was now an ambitious female in her midst.
So as her supporter (and goader) I asked Melissa, “Have you scheduled a meeting with Lani to discuss your career development?” Her silence on the phone told me that the answer was no. Melissa had, in fact, met with Lani several times to review her business projections and strategy. All was going well on that front. What she had neglected to do is focus on a critical element; her own future.
Melissa did eventually set up that meeting. Lani offered insights and was very receptive. The two women agreed to meet monthly to discuss challenges and successes.
I know that if Melissa continues to draw from Lani’s experience and insights she will grow from these exchanges with this accomplished leader. She may even realize that she wants to deviate from the senior exec’s game plan. Either way she will be expanding her knowledge base, perspective and potential network.
There is overwhelming evidence that mentoring works. Recognizing that we are worth developing is an internal hurdle that both introverted and extroverted women need to overcome. And we better get to work quickly on this one.