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Moving on Up
15 Power Moves Every Woman Needs in Her Career Arsenal
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Leslie W. Price
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Theatre director, writer, and arts educator.
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Are you feeling pigeonholed in your current job, or are you looking to take your career on a new path? It might be time to take a deep breath and make a power move that will get you back on track with your goals. The term sounds intimidating, but a power move is simply a career strategy to get you the recognition you deserve. It shows your colleagues that you’re bold and courageous, that you’re not afraid to assert yourself and that you’re a valuable leader. Put another way, a power move helps you work on your career, not just your job.

When and how do you make a power move? There are plenty of ways to put yourself out there. More importantly, you can find opportunities to demonstrate your initiative that feel true to who you are. Whether you’re naturally outgoing or you’re a people pleaser, there’s a power move that will feel appropriate for you. Consider these options:

1. Speak up.

Participate in meetings rather than just sitting and listening to everyone else. By contributing your thoughts and ideas, you’ll show your coworkers and supervisors that you’re interested and invested in what’s going on. If this power move feels uncomfortable to you, take a baby step. Keep your comments brief at first, and then work your way up to participating more. By becoming a more active member of your workplace, you’ll become a more valuable person to have around.

2. Be decisive. 

Gathering lots of information is always a valuable part of making an informed decision, but trust yourself to make the right choice when the time comes. Hemming and hawing makes you look weak. Frankly, it can make you feel weak, too. You were hired to do your job for a reason, and you should trust yourself to do the right thing. Making a decision and not looking back is one of the strongest power moves you can make. 

3. Ask for a favor.

Save this power move for the right occasion, but asking for a favor can be a fantastic way to connect with someone with whom it's been a bit tricky to get on the right footing. This kind of interpersonal jiu-jitsu works well if you share a hobby or special interest with a coworker. Ask to borrow a book, inquire about a restaurant recommendation or get their feedback about their recent vacation destination when you’re planning a similar trip. The favor needn’t be huge to help you find an inroad to a good working relationship. 

4. Write thank-you notes.

Writing thank-you notes may seem old school, but it makes a huge impression. While there are times when the speed of a thank you email is preferable, a handwritten note goes a long way. For one thing, hardly anyone takes the time to do it. For another, the receiver instinctively appreciates the time and effort that went into sending that note. This is an excellent power move whether you’re climbing the ladder and want to impress a superior or you’re at the top of your game and want to establish trust with your employees. 

5. Step up your wardrobe.

You can continue to express your personality through your style, but consider stepping things up a little bit. Even if you aren’t in a field where suits are required, you can show your professionalism via your wardrobe. Get your clothing tailored for the best fit, and make the effort to get fussier pieces professionally cleaned and pressed. It’s a small investment that can go a long way toward earning some extra respect.

6. Pitch in with everyday tasks.

This power move is reserved for folks who are already in leadership roles. When your employees see you pitching in with day to day challenges, it shows them that you don’t feel you’re too good to lend a hand. Wash the dishes in the break room, put paper in the copier when it runs out and make a fresh pot of coffee from time to time. You probably won’t get many accolades, but your employees will notice, and they’ll quietly appreciate your efforts and pay you back with loyalty. 

7. Ask questions.

Asking questions lets people know you’re listening. Obviously, asking questions about projects you’re working on is a great idea, and you should also make the effort to ask questions during general office chit chat. People like to talk about themselves, and asking questions in the breakroom or when you’re schmoozing at a conference is an excellent way to help you connect with coworkers and leaders. 

8. Reestablish boundaries.

Job creep is a real phenomenon, and you have to be brave to push back against it. Decide to unplug from work after a certain hour and stick to your decision. Those emails can wait until morning, and you’ll be a better team member if you’ve had a chance to relax and recharge in the evenings. At some point you may need to discuss your boundaries with your supervisor, so take the time to really think about what’s important to you.

9. Feel free to disagree.

It’s okay to disagree with your coworkers and even with your boss. In fact, it’s an important part of collaboration. While you want to be as diplomatic as possible, sharing an alternative viewpoint can help create a more robust understanding of a project or problem. That said, once a decision is made, move forward or you’ll look petulant.

10. Ask for more training.

Recognizing when you need additional training is important to your career and to the success of your company. No matter your industry, tools, strategies and techniques are always evolving, and it’s vital to stay current. Demonstrating your continued interest in learning and bringing the latest knowledge back to your company is a power move that will benefit you and everyone you work with. Many organizations even have budgets to help you pay for that training! 

11. Take charge of a social event.

Make sure you have the bandwidth to take on this power move, but organizing a social event for your office can be a great path to extra recognition. Setting up something as simple as a game night or a trip to a karaoke bar can be a way for you to stand out as someone who values camaraderie. You’ll build trust with your coworkers and gain appreciation from your supervisors.

12. Participate in group activities.

After-hours activities at your office could include anything from an office volleyball team to a company band. If something sounds like fun to you, it might be worth your time to join in. Connecting with your coworkers outside of the office can be a way to establish stronger connections that will benefit you during work hours, too. Plus, this power move can easily dovetail into your existing hobbies. 

13. Trust yourself. 

Worrying about what other people think of your ideas is a sure way to slow down your upward mobility. When you’re in the midst of brainstorming and collaborating, don’t fret about whether your idea is the best one you ever had. Even if it’s not the final solution, your input is an important stepping stone toward the ultimate goals of your group. Trust your knowledge and others will, too.

14. Say no.

Saying no is hard for a lot of professionals. You want to do a great job, and you don’t want to let anyone down. However, it’s easy to take on so much that you won’t be able to accomplish any of it successfully. Feel free to advocate for a situation that will allow you to focus on the most important priorities. A reasonable boss will respect you for taking pride in your work and for wanting to prioritize quality over quantity. 

15. Use your vacation time. 

Taking a vacation reminds your team that you trust them to take care of things while you’re gone. More importantly, it demonstrates to those around you that you value yourself enough to take the time to unwind. This power move is essential to avoiding burnout. Plus, people respect people who respect themselves.

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Leslie W. Price is a theater artist, educator, and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on LinkedIn or visit her portfolio

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