Emerging Greatness – The Journey into POWER Continues

As I finished up Module 6 and graduated from Marsha Clark & Associates’ POWER of Self executive leadership program, I’ve experienced the results of my personal growth and come to realize that Results + Recognition = Influence.

But, Does Doing All the Right Things REALLY Get Women Ahead in Their Careers?

This last Module 6 had me asking “What would be different in the world if women had more influence?” Answers I came up with are:

In my career, I’ve found that women tend to run away from jobs… Men run toward them and new opportunities. But, does the gender gap persist because men and women adopt different strategies to advance their careers?

At some point in her career, every woman has shared
challenges with another woman
down the hall
up the street
in a corner office
three thousand miles away.
At some point in her career, every woman has needed
to compete with another woman
to fight on behalf of another woman
to place her trust in another woman
to interview another woman.
At some point in her career, every woman has needed
another woman to trust with her children
to remind her of who she used to be
to be a role model without ever knowing it
to listen.
At some point in her career, every woman should tell her story.
Not for her, but for another woman not so different from herself.
Change begins with understanding.
Understanding begins with conversation.

Let’s think about the “ideal worker.” That person who actively seeks high-profile assignments. Who rubs shoulders with influential leaders. That person who communicates openly and directly about their career aspirations and seeks visibility for their accomplishments. That person who lets supervisors know about their skills and their willingness to contribute. Who continually seeks out new opportunities and isn’t afraid to ask for help. That person who learns the political landscape, or unwritten rules, of the company.

Before I answer the question above, let’s take a dive into the possible career advancement strategies the ideal worker uses… or avoids.

Distinct Career Strategy Profiles


Climbers seek to advance in their current company and they are 32% of the men and 31% of the women. Climbers actively use tactics strategically to help them advance, such as asking for a variety of work assignments, ensuring their supervisors know they are willing to work long hours, actively networking with others, and seeking out opportunities for greater visibility.


Hedgers use both Internal and External career advancement strategies and are 26% of the men and 25% of the women in organizations. Relative to their peers, Hedgers by and large score highly on all career advancement tactics, focusing their energy on potential opportunities both within and outside their current organizations. They hedge their bets to ensure advancement, prepared to advance their careers whether remaining with their current employer or at a new organization.


Scanners keep a finger on the pulse of the job market and they are 24% of men and 28% of the women you work with. This group consults with others on how to improve their future work prospects and conducts continual scans of other job opportunities. Scanners are poised to at least change jobs, if not also organizations. On average, the Hedgers and the Scanners – who both are doing external scans for new opportunities – have worked at more companies since completing their MBAs than Climbers, whose strategies focus on their current employers.


Coasters put less emphasis on all tactics and they are 19% of the men and 14% of the women in organizations. A surprising number of these individuals are relatively inactive when it comes to their use of any career advancement strategies. This group is the least likely to proactively try to advance and scores lowest when compared to their peers on every single career strategy.

It Helps Men, Not Women

In a nutshell, doing “all the right things” helps men, but not women, advance further and faster. In studies, men in the most proactive group, the Hedgers, receive the greatest advancement payoff with 21% of men vs. only 11% of women Hedgers advancing to senior executive/ C-Suite level roles. For women, the story is dramatically different. Not only did they lag behind men Hedgers in advancement, there was no difference in results between women Hedgers, Climbers, and Scanners. For women, being proactive in your career doesn’t provide as great an advantage for women as it does for men.

In addition, men advance further than women across all the strategy profiles statistically. Men are more likely to reach the senior executive/ C-Suite roles, and across organizations of all sizes, men achieve a higher level than women.

Finally, the ultimate injury… Men’s compensation grows faster, regardless of which career strategy they use. The current gap between women’s and men’s salaries in their first post-MBA job is at least $31,258 per year. Imagine the disparity over the years of working, saving, spending, and trying to build assets.

Myth Busting

Here’s the truth… Women are not seeking slower career tracks. They are less satisfied with their careers than men, which suggests they aren’t intentionally seeking lower salaries, lower rates of compensation growth, and slower career trajectories.

Men are paid for potential, while women are paid for PROVEN performance. Men who move to a new employer have the greatest compensation growth (average $13,743 higher). Women tend to earn more when they stay where they have already proven their worth, but it’s still $53,472 behind a peer level man.

Women DO ask, but asking isn’t closing the pay gap. Women are more likely than men to ask for a variety of skill-building experiences, to proactively seek training opportunities, and to make achievements visible, including asking for feedback and promotions. With one difference… Men are significantly more likely to have countered their first post-MBA offer by asking for a higher salary – 50% of men vs. 31% of women.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now, I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Life is about the NOT knowing… having to change… taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~ Gilda Radner

The Big Payoff

The best way to advance is not one-size-fits-all. Women benefit most by making their achievements known to their managers and higher-ups, by seeking feedback and credit as appropriate, and by asking for that promotion when it’s deserved.

Men benefit most by scanning for external opportunities and blurring their work-life boundaries. Men, more than women, also stay on top of their market value and indicate a willingness to work long hours.

But BOTH men and women benefit by gaining access to powerful others. By proactively networking with influential people, by getting involved in high-profile projects, and by moving from being a primary “in the weeds” problem-solver to ensuring that the problem gets solved, men and women gain their own voice, power, and influence.

Since the start of this program in October 2017, when I had been in the CEO role for only 2 months, I’ve come a long way… I’ve learned that when advancing to leadership positions, the role increases in challenge, breadth, and complexity. As I approach the end of my first year in this role, I’ve learned to value the intense work on my own leadership skills and believe that making time for others, planning, coordinating, and coaching are imperative in this responsibility.

Thank YOU for staying with me on this deeply impactful journey, and if you have any comments or questions about this program, please reach out in the comments box below.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Marsha Clark & Associates by way of Wendi participating in the “POWER of Self” program