The title of this post came from an interview question that Suzanne Foster answered. The question was “what is the hardest lesson for working women to learn?” Her answer was “To work like you don’t need the job.” To give a very brief background, Suzanne and I met in sales training when we were both starting at Salient Surgical. At the time her title was Vice President of Legal and Compliance. She is now the Global General Manager for Medtronic’s Advanced Energy division.
When I was writing the introduction for her interview this answer stood out to me and I have been thinking about it for the past few months. I’d like to think that I know Suzanne well enough to guess that she was not saying “make stupid mistakes, be late, don’t contribute, because hey…who needs the job anyways?!” What I believe she is saying is “work with the confidence that shows you won’t be pushed around, taken for granted, or treated like you are a replaceable commodity like a chair or desk. Work with the confidence that silently shouts ‘I am indispensable! I know my value, and if you don’t treat me with the respect and compensation I deserve, I can find a company that will.’ ”
I think this is an issue that is more prevalent with women than men. Sometimes it takes a while at a new company or in a new role to gain the confidence that men seem to effortlessly step into their roles with. Sometimes it takes having a wonderful mentor to coach, develop, and help build the confidence to be more assertive. Whatever the case may be, people who display a healthy amount of confidence (and I’ll add, humility) typically find that they get the promotions they go for and get put on projects they want to work on. Obviously one has to have the talent, hunger, and work ethic that go along with it, but one of the most valuable assets you can bring to a company (that is not written down on a resume) is a healthy amount of self confidence.