Friday, June 27, 2014

4 Things Your Boss Won’t Tell You About Advancing Your Career

A vice president of a financial company once told me, “Make a plan—or someone else will make one for you.” And this advice is never truer than when it comes to taking charge of your career.

If you’ve worked hard, fulfilled your responsibilities, and received positive performance reviews, then you’ve successfully followed what most people would call a career development plan. Unfortunately, that’s a far cry from what I call a career advancement plan. To make significant forward movement, you’ll need to go beyond being great at your current job—but, as I often tell clients in my leadership coaching practice, if you’re waiting on advice from your boss about how to do that, you’d be wise not to hold your breath.

Read Jo Miller's article for The Daily Muse.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ 

A Perfect Come-back to Matt Lauer’s Dumb, Sexist Interview Question

On Thursday, Today Show host Matt Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra this question about her suitability to be both a mom and a CEO:

“Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?”

There is, of course, no record of Lauer having asked a similarly-ranked dude the same question.

Barra replied with perfect poise, “You know, I think I can” and went on to describe the support she receives from her team and family. But just imagine the backlash she would have been subjected to had she declined to answer, or even worse, called him out.

As the topic trended on Twitter, hands down the best tweet came from @Jezebel who asked “Can Matt Lauer be both a sexist _____ and a good dad?”

When you’re asked a dumb, sexist question, is there ever any good way to respond?

Years ago, a coaching client who was going for a senior-level position was asked the same question in a large group town-hall style job interview. Someone in the audience yelled “You can’t ask that. It’s illegal!”

She smiled innocently, answering the question with a question. “How did (the other candidates) Mr. X and Mr. Y answer that?”

People cheered. She got the job, and became one of the highest-ranked women in her profession.

What’s your favorite come-back to a dumb, sexist question?

Jo Miller is CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc. Follow her on Twitter at @jo_miller

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6 Secrets of Women Who Get Promoted (slideshow)

Are you capable of more than the job you are doing today? Here are 6 things you need to know about how to get a promotion. 

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership. Are you a rising women of influence? To have leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox, sign up for Jo's newsletter. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp

4 Ways to Build Instant Influence at Your New Job

 Congratulations. You got the job! Now the real challenge begins: hitting the ground running.

I once interviewed a C-level leader from the retail industry about the importance of quickly getting the lay of the land when coming into a new role. “The first step I take when taking on a new assignment or project is what I call ‘surveying the landscape,’” she said. “I study my surroundings, and I try to understand the people and processes that drive value in that particular area.”

Read Jo Miller’s article for The Daily Muse.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Monica Bajaj

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence. This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Monica Bajaj, Senior Engineering Manager with  NetApp.

What key steps did you take to get to the role you are in today?
I believe that a good education is the first step towards the door of opportunity. The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you. While going to school to enhance my career, there was one fact that has rang true consistently; education is the core foundation that will lead to many opportunities for me, anywhere in the world.

I grew up and studied in India but I always had the desire to experience new opportunities. After finishing with my grad school degree in engineering, I taught as an assistant professor at an engineering institute. Later, I decided to work in the technology industry, which led me to make the decision to come to the United States, where I saw the promise of new experiences and a way to create my own future.

I began my journey over 20 years ago, and at that time my new opportunity was considered quite a challenge because it was not common for women in my culture to travel alone to a strange country; however, during this transition, my parents and brother were fully supportive and continued to keep my morale up and support me. Despite all the hurdles living in an alien country, I did not want to give up and I landed a job in a high tech firm and I have never looked back! I am grateful that I had the support of my family and I don’t think I would be the successful individual that I am today without their encouragement.

As the years have passed and I have created a family of my own, this is still true. Whenever I have the urge to try new things, my spouse and children have supported me tremendously in keeping a balance across my personal and professional life.

“I believe in taking the lead and making things happen.”

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I believe in taking the lead and making things happen, rather than waiting for someone to tell me or ask me. I also feel that leading by example motivates other folks around you to also be a part of any given initiative. While going for higher studies or growing in my professional career, I never limited myself to any given role or team. I started my career in engineering as a developer and decided to move into management role after nine years. While working in various startups for almost nine years, I got an opportunity to perform roles in product management and engineering management for onsite and remote teams. Such opportunities in turn gave me a great insight about building the entire product from scratch and manage multiple teams.

“I am a big supporter for women to emerge as successful leaders and not shy away from showing their strengths.”

What is the next step you plan to take in your career to develop your leadership skills?
I would like to take over more strategic and tactical roles which align with the current business and company needs. I strongly believe that it is important to be self-aware, leverage your own strengths, and work on the areas where you need to excel.

Currently, my role at NetApp covers two facets; the technology side where I am the face for the overall software quality of the protocol/product I deliver; I am equally responsible to be seen as a strong leader in the software quality community across NetApp. In order for me to be influential and ensure that I am well known across the board, I have been able to lead and drive opportunities, as they approach. I work closely with senior leaders at NetApp to represent my group across multiple forums.

Outside NetApp, I have also been a panelist for the “When She Speaks” Women in Leadership Series event, presented by Fountain Blue Organization. I am a big supporter for women to emerge as successful leaders and not shy away from showing their strengths.

“Use your strengths as your brand.”

You attended Jo Miller’s Poised for Leadership workshop in April. Would you mind sharing a few takeaways from the session?
First of all, I would like to thank Jo for giving me an opportunity to introduce her when she led this workshop at NetApp. 

I learned never to shy away from sharing your accomplishments with data, to use your strengths as your brand, and to always have a mentor and a sponsor.

Want to reach out to Monica directly? Connect with her via LinkedIn.

Office Politics: Women balk, but they need to know how to play the game to land leadership roles

Many women may cringe at the mere thought of office politics, but experts say businesswomen who aspire to executive posts avoid workplace dynamics at their own career peril.

Ignoring office politics “can be one of the biggest career killers,” said Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She conducts workshops and other programs for women aspiring to career leadership positions. In a survey of 100 emerging female professionals in the high-tech industry, she found that only 2 percent strongly felt they knew how to handle office politics in a positive and effective way. Miller, speaking with SHRM Online, also cited a 2013 LinkedIn and Citi survey (Today’s Professional Woman Report) of 954 professional women, which found office.

Read more in HR Magazine.

The Top Five Most-Read Articles This Month

In case you didn’t get a chance to browse the blog in the past month, here are the top five most-read articles

1.  Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot (850 views)

2. 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself (and Everyone Around You) (442 views)

3.  8 Ways to Stay Motivated and Engaged at Work (slide show) (165 views)

4. Emerging Leader Spotlight: Andrea Bond, Southwestern Energy (133 views)

5. Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know (108 views)

Thanks for reading; see you next month!! 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /