Words like “confident,” which should be inspiring and empowering, can sometimes make people feel anything but that—especially if we’re looking at the definition the wrong way. So said Shavon Lindley, CEO of Mentoring Method and creator of Women Evolution and Inclusion 360, at the BMC Dialogue Series event “Take Control of Your Career; Strategies for Empowerment” Thursday.
The event, sponsored by the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego School of Business, addressed what gets in the way of empowerment that leads to career success. Lindley said empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life. Accepting this definition enabled her to relax about the word “confident” because she realized that becoming confident and empowered was a process and that it did not mean being perfect.
Part of the process involved her three strategies for career empowerment, which can apply to those in CRE or in any other field. The first strategy is asking, “What will make me happy?” Lindley said, “The path to happiness is knowing what to say ‘yes’ to. The path to success is knowing what to say ‘no’ to.” She learned by participating in a career-advancement program that it’s better to give feedback that mimics “I love when you said X. I would love to see more of Y,” than to give straight-out criticism—it’s received better and enables the listener to move forward with confidence rather than feeling defeated.
Also, knowing what your core values are and making sure that what you’re doing aligns with them is key, she said.
The second strategy Lindley recommended was to take control of your performance review. Your boss doesn’t remember everything you have and haven’t done since your last performance review, so she suggested keeping an Excel spreadsheet of the projects you’ve completed, the purpose of each to the organization, their impact on your personal goals, the skills you learned from them and their outcomes. Then, she recommended sending that spreadsheet to your boss before the performance review. You’ve just taken control of that review by providing this information to your boss.
Lindley said the spreadsheet is also useful in building your case toward anything you want to do. “It helps you realize what you’ve done and what you’re capable of achieving. You know what we’ve accomplished, so now you can raise the bar.
The third strategy Lindley offered was to give and ask for support. She demonstrated that women prefer to receive support and recognition, but men actually ask for it, which is one big difference between the sexes. “Have diverse people support you, with diverse perspectives,” she said.
However, when striving for more diversity and inclusion in your business, start with inclusion; you will be more successful than if you start with diversity because diversity stems from inclusion.
Lindley added that it’s not only important to take control of your career, but also to have influence on those around you — family, friends, colleagues, etc. — that’s true empowerment.