More Women Need to Leave Quickly to Advance Faster

A Critical Question For Women – Am I Staying In An Untenable Job Way Too Long?

Yes, Women Need to Leave Organizations That Devalue Them. The bolder question for women might be, WHY are you loyal to anyone who is not loyal to you?

There’s always a sense of unexplained loyalty that women should question. We historically stay in relationships long after the expiration date because we are loyal to the process even when the outcome is detrimental to our wellbeing.

Let’s evaluate this scenario, you’re a high-powered woman poised to advance into leadership. You’ve done all the right things – you got a mentor, you found sponsors, you built a network of unshakable advisors and you found a champion who promised to push your career forward. Beyond the textbook recommendations that you gain executive presence, you also checked all the boxes necessary to advance, but when the day arrived you were told, “We selected someone who had just a little more experience than you did.” (The person selected happens to be a man but I digress) Fast forward two years later the same thing happened again. Instead of building your external network and exiting left, you stayed. Why?

The Internal Question Is: Should I Stay or Should I Jump Ship?

In this scenario, I feel you should jump ship. As women, we must understand our value and too often we underestimate our value. We must understand the value we bring to the table. If the organization that we work for cannot see our value, then it’s time to find one that will. I’m sure my colleagues in HR are holding their breath and clutching their pearls – really I don’t care if you are. HR often says, wait your turn – this will happen one day soon. Please do every woman a favor and stop telling them to wait their turn. We can’t wait until we’re dead on the vine.

Women are not martyrs. We are not pinatas. We expect to advance especially if we’ve done everything to move the bar forward. My message to women, Don’t confuse your job title with your role when managing your career. 

Why women must question their loyalty, especially when it’s not returned.

As a child, I was told to wait for my turn. I was told that if I worked hard things would happen and I hadn’t earned my keep so I shouldn’t ask for anything. That daily drumbeat of waiting because I hadn’t earned it yet stayed with me throughout my life. It is the message that stayed in my gut and stopped me from playing fully and demanding what was rightfully mine. What were you told as a child that keeps you loyal when you shouldn’t be?

Our sense of loyalty was drilled into our psyche long before we understood what the word loyalty meant. It’s important to unlearn that and build a new definition of loyalty.

What’s the plan when things don’t go your way?

First, don’t overreact. When you don’t get what’s rightfully yours don’t take a knee-jerk view of your career. Impulsive reactions only serve to undermine your goals. Question the scenario of what happened but don’t question your resolve to move ahead. Stay focused on what you want –  then re-evaluate your goals. Ask the bold question, is this job serving its purpose? Ask the bolder question, what do I want and why don’t I have it here? An even better question, will I ever achieve what I want by staying here?

Second, find your resolve to keep moving ahead. Resilience is a muscle, learn how to use it. Resilience is not resolving to stay and try again, it is instead the will to take a defeat and build your options to move ahead. Ask yourself, What can I do to move from where I am? Where do I want to go from here?

Third, position yourself to move beyond where you are right now. Be reminded that a No is not a No – unless you make it your reality. NO means Next Opportunity – Where can you find your next opportunity? Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and be vulnerable by sharing what you’re feeling.

Building your future means creating a plan today. Where do you want to be within the internal ladder and if the internal ladder has a broken rung, where are you headed externally?

I would be tempted to ask you an even bolder question – if you stay, would you regret staying five years from now? (Especially, if nothing changed)

Yes, women, you need to leave when your organization doesn’t value what you bring to the table. Men don’t stay around to be validated, women shouldn’t wait to have others find their value. Most of the time we stay beyond our half-life because we forget that another organization might value us more. Sometimes when you leave, you get to return more triumphant. Most often when you leave the ones left behind get to see you rise to greater success.


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