Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interview: Selena Rezvani on the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Interview with Selena Rezvani, author of The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won't Learn in Business School (Praeger, 12/2009)

Q: Selena, what is the number one issue women face in today's workplace environment?

A: There’s a commonly held belief that we’ve reached gender parity—particularly because women now make up half the workforce. This is not true. All one needs to do is look at the low numbers of women actually leading businesses―acting as decision makers―to know that progress has stalled. One of the biggest barriers women face is this very misconception. 

Q: What are a few things a woman can do to help her succeed in the workplace?

A: Don’t think that anyone else will ever move your career forward. You need to drive, sculpt, and create your career, taking 100% ownership. Realize that good work does not guarantee rewards. To move up, you need a combination of results and self-advocacy. Good old-fashioned negotiation skills shouldn’t be underestimated. We know that women are four times less likely than men to initiate negotiations, so investing in training in this area early in your career can make all the difference.

Q: So, what makes your book stand out among other books on this topic?

A: No else has written a book on women and leadership that focuses on the woman in the first half of their career. While there are many terrific books on women and leadership, they tend to take a broad-brush approach, treating women at all different stages exactly the same. My book helps a woman get off to the right start, navigating the tricky aspects of having less formal authority and positional power than her more established counterparts.

Selena Rezvani's 5 Need-to-Know Facts for Success
  1. Be aware of the verbal and non-verbal language you use to convey your ideas and make sure that you’re not inadvertently diminishing credibility instead of building it. One example is getting rid of buffering your ideas, with phrases such as, “This might be a silly idea…” “Someone else may have already said this…” and “Sorry if this has already been said…” 
  2. Consider taking career risks before you feel ready for them. You will often surprise yourself, performing better than you think you would.
  3. Create a personal board of directors whom you can go to for different needs, such as help with image, technical skills, or community contacts. Rarely can one mentor satisfy all your needs.
  4. Actively create a leadership brand for yourself. Remember that within every single interaction at work, you’re modeling for others what you think of yourself and how you’d like to be treated. 
  5. Use your values as a career compass—they will never steer you wrong. 

    Selena Rezvani is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on women and leadership. When she’s not working with clients or writing her column for The Washington Post, she’s exploring her favorite city, Philadelphia. To learn more about Selena, visit www.nextgenwomen.com. You can follow her on Twitter @nextgenwomen or join her Facebook fan page to stay in touch. Selena will be a guest speaker for an event through Young Girl's Network in Cherry Hill, NJ on Wednesday, August 18. She will be discussing "5 Strategies for Taking Control of Your Own Success." You can see Selena's full list of upcoming appearances here.

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