Dr. Shirley A. Davis

Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer

As a female professional, a person of color, and a single mom, moving up the corporate ladder has been wrought with unique challenges, setbacks, and life lessons. Being identified as “high potential,” or receiving the highest performance rating year after year didn’t always translate into new development assignments, coaching/mentoring from the company’s executives, or receiving a promotion or a raise. And after years of asking “how much more do I need to do,” “how much longer do I need to wait,” and “how much harder do I have to work to prove that I am worthy of the next level” with no real movement, I flipped the script.

I became more selective about the types of companies, cultures, and bosses that would fit for me. I was prepared to negotiate my salary up front, and I observed and learned from the men who seemed to be promoted more quickly, with less experience, less education, and less effort.

In all of those experiences, here are the 4 V’s of career success that I learned:

Be a Visionary. Companies today are starving for visionary leadership, the ability to invoke followers without coercion, to perceive challenges and growth opportunities before they happen, and position people to produce extraordinary results. Women have the EQ and the unique ability to do all three.

Be Visible. It’s important to seek broad exposure across the organization, your industry, and your community. Expand your alliances, your network, and your presence on social media, and be willing to leverage those contacts and build meaningful relationships that can benefit both of you. Don’tjustcollectbusinesscardsthat only accumulate dust.

Be Vocal. As women, we must speak up, speak out, and be willing to have courageous conversations. This is a prevailing weakness of women in the workplace. Studies reveal that women are less likely than men to demand more pay, promotions, and are uncomfortable “tooting their own horn.” Women still tend to think that their results alone will speak for themselves. There is an art to getting your results noticed and rewarded, and it starts with being politically and vocally savvy.

Add Value. Know that you have unique skills, gifts and talents that can be developed, perfected, and leveraged in a way that makes an impact. Don’t settle for mediocrity but let excellence be your standard.

Click here to view more Women Worth Watching award winners.