Good morning SOTGC readers. I realize that the title of this post is also the name of a band in the 80s. I also recognize that the fact that I know this is totally dating myself, and I’m OK with that. This is a post that my girl friends and I have talked about for as long as I’ve had this blog. However, I wasn’t sure if it was an opinion that specifically my group of friends and I share, and I wasn’t about to go randomly asking women if they thought cattiness and competition was one of the things that is keeping us from moving up in the ranks as quickly as we could.
However, when I was at the Summit (A View From The Top) this last week I noticed that there were several resounding themes that each group I rotated through was talking about. One of them being: “Why are women so competitive with each other, and how come it’s so hard to find a woman mentor who isn’t going to be jealous of your success, and ultimately stonewall your advancement at some point because of that jealousy or competitiveness?” In no way am I saying ALL women are like this, I also do not believe there are NO woman mentors to be found, it’s just that the majority of the people I spoke with as well as myself have all found male mentors, and share this thought.
This is a topic that I think a lot of women don’t want to openly admit to. Especially those of us who are very vocal about the fact that we DO believe in supporting, helping, and promoting our fellow ladies. I myself am guilty of this several times in the past and try hard to make sure I don’t succumb to the cattiness (going forward I will refer to this as the Seagull Effect.) A couple years ago I was in the top rankings for the Pinnacle Club (top 10 reps) and a lady who was new to our company was racing up fast and hard behind me. When I saw her at the National Sales Meeting my first thought was “Well no WONDER she’s doing so well. Tall, hot, blonde, her Doctors use her stuff because she’s cute.” My second thought was “Wow Marney! You’re an A$$hole! That’s the same thing you have heard from a few people and it infuriates you!”
Have you ever been to the beach or lake and seen a group of Seagulls milling around? I bet every single one of us has either tossed, or watched someone toss some food in their direction. The entire group will swarm in and fight over the food. The funny thing is that it’s usually two Alpha seagulls fighting over it and a quiet, stealthy, Beta seagull will sneak in while they’re fighting, and steal the food from under their beaks. What if, instead, the seagulls spread out and hunted for scraps and food, then brought the findings back to the group, and they divvied up the food amongst themselves? I’m not promoting Socialism for Seagulls. I also realize that seagulls are birds and aren’t cognitive creatures who could learn this. And, if you decide your new goal is to try and teach the flock this neat trick, you will probably be embarking on a futile task.
However, ladies, we are highly cognitive, creative, and efficient beings. How is it that we are able to schedule and multitask through hundreds of activities or thoughts a day, yet we haven’t been able to collaboratively come together to “share the food” so to speak? How about, when a promotion is open or a position needs to be filled, we support each other once the finalist is announced, rally behind them, and hope they remember us when it’s their turn to promote someone?
I was speaking with one of the ladies at the Summit and expressed that it seems like there are two topics of “pride” that are at a juxtaposition with each other and that might be why we haven’t learned to do this. The first sense of pride is in watching women shatter through the glass ceiling, get promoted, and succeed. The second sense of pride is knowing that we are working in male dominated industries and because of that, are among the small group of women who are very successful in them. Unfortunately, the former of the two seems to be the dominant “pride” and maybe that’s why we still engage in the “seagull effect.”
So ladies, what do we do about this? If we were to promote and support each other more, and reprogram ourselves to feel MORE pride in promoting and helping each other than we do in knowing we are among a “select few”, how quickly could we see an exponential growth of women racing up the corporate ladder…?