So you’re out of college and got a job. Great!
Here’s the first thing you should know, according to women’s leadership expert Tiffany Dufu, keynote speaker at Women Leading Kentucky’s annual convention on May 5: The office is nothing like school. In school, good results are usually consistently and clearly rewarded.
Workplaces are much trickier, with a different array of forces in play.
“We really need to support young women with understanding the politics of their environment and how to be successful in different ecosystems,” Dufu said in a recent telephone interview. “We get to work, and work is a different ecosystem. If you put your head down, achieve really great results at work, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be promoted.”
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Employees have to pick “who in the organization you’re going to align yourself with to be successful.”
A woman Dufu mentored stayed up all night working on a project, refusing drinks with her boss in order to get the job done. A male colleague opted in favor of drinks with the boss.
The man got promoted.
Dufu’s network, the Levo League, connects millennial women in the workplace, helping them to negotiate their work environments for greater success.
Women also have to learn how to solicit and process feedback so that it contributes to growth in the job, Dufu said. Few managers give feedback well, she said, and women need to hear honest assessments rather than puffy cliches, “so we can make sure we’re really performing.”
As managers, women face a different set of obstacles, Dufu said: “Management is about creating results through other people.” That requires spending one-on-one time with the people supervised to make sure manager and employee have the same goals. Management work outside time with employees should not be the focus, Dufu said.
“The more you can invest in other people, the more successful you’re going to be,” she said. “That’s why Levo exists. … The people who have been the most successful in advancing their careers have a network and have leveraged a group of people … to achieve clarity, and to make those connections, and to make their load easier and simpler.”
When growing up, Dufu began “to recruit people who were invested in me, who were supportive of my success. I kind of accidentally built that ecosystem,” she said.
Because she successfully built her network, she said, “I’ve never had to apply for a job in my entire career.”
Instead, the jobs come to her. She has been a major gifts officer at Simmons College in Boston; associate director of development at Seattle Girls’ School; and president of the now-defunct White House Project, a non-profit that worked to increase female representation in business and government.
“Everything that you need in order for you to be successful you already have inside you,” Dufu said.
Women Leading Kentucky annual conference
Attendee pre-registration is required for full day or for Awards Luncheon only. Conference registration $155; lunch only $55.
Keynote Speaker: Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer, Levo, 9-9:50 a.m.
More information about Tiffany Dufu and Levo League: