Why men succeed: They exaggerate their accomplishments, study says
Vickie Milazzo is the author of "Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman."
Vickie Milazzo is the author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011, WickedSuccess.com). The owner of a $16-million business, Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc.'s Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.
Vickie is the owner of Vickie Milazzo Institute, an education company she founded in 1982. Featured in the New York Times as the pioneer of a new profession, she built a professional association of 5,000 members.
Who has the oak-paneled offices of the business world? Overwhelmingly, it is men.
Conventional wisdom says the reasons are sexism, a history of repression, the "Mommy track," and so forth. But a new study conducted by researchers from several business schools, including Columbia University Business School, suggests there might be another reason for the shortage of women in high-level positions: we just don't puff up our accomplishments as much as men do.
"The study indicates that men tend to exaggerate their accomplishments more than women do, and thus they gain an edge when competing for corporate positions," says Vickie Milazzo, author of the New York Times bestseller, Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-1181-0052-3, $21.95, WickedSuccess.com). "That doesn't mean men lie during job interviews or performance reviews-but it does mean they exhibit a lot more confidence in workplace situations. They're not afraid to sing their own praises."
Women, she adds, tend to give very barebones feedback on their accomplishments. In this regard, it's time for us to think (and act) more like men. Wicked success awaits many women, but they have to position themselves in the right way in order to open the door to bigger and better opportunities.
Milazzo explains that women are already losing ground to their male competition as early as the salary negotiation phase of a job interview. In fact, a recent article in The New Yorker revealed that only 7 percent of women negotiate their salaries up-front when entering a new position...compared to 57 percent of men.
Women may think they're doing their employers a favor by not pushing for more, or that they'll be more appealing if they don't ask for what they're worth, says Milazzo. But under pricing can actually cause women to lose credibility with employers.
"When I'm hiring, I actually weed out candidates who under-price themselves because I assume they won't perform at the level I expect," she says. "It makes me view those candidates as commodities-employees who are easy to obtain and easy to replace. You look dispensable, and that's not a quality that is going to help you move up in the ranks of any organization."
Milazzo's new book promises to provide women with the encouragement they need to go after wicked success. The book's advice is sure to push women to think in more exaggerated and uncommon ways. It's a "buck-up" book with a buck-up plan for women ready to take back control of their lives and careers.
"To match the success men can have in the business world, women need to be comfortable with talking about their achievements," says Milazzo. "It's about ultra positioning. Clearly, we females need to take a page from the male playbook and make sure that we're getting the recognition and credit we've earned. Your boss, for example, wants to know that she bet on a winner when she hired you!"
Because the act of properly positioning your wicked success might be a little foreign to you, Milazzo offers help. Below are some common scenarios and how women can use them to find success:
The Job Interview: You've been the top salesperson three years running at your current job. You're interviewing for a sales training position at a different company, a big boost for your career.
The Modest Way: "I've been given many opportunities at Acme. They've trusted me with a lot of great accounts and as a result, I've been able to steadily increase my sales numbers over the years."
The Manly Way: "I've been our top salesperson three years running. I've consistently improved my sales numbers each year and constantly exceed my sales goals. More importantly, in addition to my great sales numbers, my customers give the highest customer satisfaction scores at Acme."
"Remember," says Milazzo, "when you're in a job interview or a performance review, the person interviewing you wants to know how great you are. They want to know what you can achieve and what you have achieved."
The Complimenting CEO: Your company's CEO just complimented you on a successful presentation, which helped bring in a new client.
The Modest Way: "Thank you! But I can't take all the credit. My team did most of the work."
The Manly Way: "Thank you! The client's positive reaction really made all those long nights and early mornings worth it. I'm just pleased our hard work paid off and we were able to get a big win for the company."
"From Day One, you should be doing everything you can to ensure that you aren't seen as interchangeable or dispensable," says Milazzo. "Don't be the invisible employee. Do what you need to do to stand out. If you're able to make yourself invaluable you'll be impossible to replace."
The High-Maintenance Customer: A customer seems to have doubts about your abilities to take care of his latest order. He calls for the thousandth time to micromanage you.
The Modest Way: "I understand your concerns. Don't worry, my manager will be double checking all of your order details to ensure everything is perfect."
The Manly Way: "I understand completely how important this order is for your business. I've triple checked all the details, and I'll be going down to the warehouse myself to make sure it's filled correctly. In my 10 years with ABC Company, I haven't shipped an incorrect order yet, and I am not going to start with yours!"
"Even veteran businesswomen can be taken aback by unexpected aggression or resistance," says Milazzo. "When dealing with a tough customer, always remind yourself that you are dealing with another human being and that you have something valuable to offer. Whenever I've had to go up against a pit bull, I know that if I allow myself to be intimidated or provoked instead of remaining calm and professional, I'll never get the respect I want from that person."
The Performance Review: In a performance review, your direct boss expresses what a great job you've been doing and sets a goal for you to improve on your customer satisfaction rates.
The Modest Way: "I see that I need to work harder. I'm sorry that my customer satisfaction rates have been disappointing. I'll certainly do everything I can to meet this new goal."
The Manly Way: "I've been working very hard, and I am glad that you see it reflected in my sales numbers. I love my clients so I welcome the opportunity to make them even happier."
"It can be hard for women to toot their own horns," says Milazzo. "With humility, make sure that you're keeping your name, your accomplishments, and your skill set in front of everyone. Welcome challenges to improve and when you reach those goals make sure people know about it."
The Team Leader: You've been selected to head up an important R&D team. At the first team meeting, you introduce yourself.
The Modest Way: "I'm looking forward to working with all of you. I just hope my expertise can match up to the stellar achievements that you all bring to the table. If you think I'm leading the team astray, please don't be afraid to ask me to take a backseat."
The Manly Way: "R&D is something I'm very passionate about. My last team and I were able to create a product that is now the number one seller for the company. I'm confident that I can lead this team to the same success and I look forward to working with all of you."
"A big part of moving forward in your career is showing that you can be an effective leader," says Milazzo. "You can't be everyone's friend. You need to set a course with confidence. Others will trust you if you prove yourself worthy with your accomplishments and confidence."
The Pay Raise Conundrum: In a performance review, your boss asks you if you think you deserve a raise.
The Modest Way: "I've worked hard this year, but I think it's best if you decide whether my accomplishments are worthy of a raise."
The Manly Way: "I've played a key role in developing loyal customers and bringing in new business for the company during a difficult economic period. Given my extremely positive performance review, I certainly think I deserve to be compensated for the hard work I've been putting in."
"Again, never underprice yourself," says Milazzo. "When you do so, you diminish your accomplishments and you diminish the role you play within the company. When you're given opportunities to put a number on your importance within a company, take them. Be reasonable, but be bold in explaining why you deserve the amount suggested."
"Don't let anyone-including yourself-forget just how much you're bringing to the table," says Milazzo. "The men certainly won't. Practice talking about your achievements. Be proud of your strengths and abilities and learn to compellingly express them to others. When you position yourself in an appealing way, you'll unleash success."