Getting the Corner Office

How to avoid the mistakes women make that put them outside the power circle

don’t have a personal sense of who you are, it tends to color their professional perceptions.

Schedule time to build relationships. Langford will arrive as early at 7 a.m. so that she can enjoy a conference lunch later in the day, rather than “having a 15-minute lunch in front of [her] computer.” she adds. “Build in more time at the beginning or end of your day that so you can get out from behind your desk,” she adds.

MISTAKE No. 2: Doing the Work of Others
Jenny Alonzo is a self-proclaimed type A professional who, early in her career at WNBC-TV in New York City, insisted on doing it all. “Being a production executive, that tends to be part of your makeup. We’ve got to get things done. That was part of my [modus operandi], to do not only my job, but to take on colleagues’ chores, too. People depended on me to do that and expected me to do that.”

Alonzo, 39, who’s had eight different bosses during her 10 years at Lifetime, says, “I was always seen as the good ol’ Jenny who will get it done. Meanwhile, different people were getting promoted in different areas of the company, but no one was recognizing my input.”

Alonzo was several months pregnant and the mother of a young daughter when she finally went to the division’s senior vice president. She had been managing the creative services department for six months. “I said, ‘Let’s talk about me, and what I’ve been doing, and my recognition. It was difficult, because you learn to defend the interests of the company you work for an
d you forget that you have to be as vigilant about making sure your own development is taking place. There was a concern from my division head that I might not come back after maternity leave.” She was promoted to vice president before she left to have her baby.

“It taught me if you find yourself doing the work of others, assess why you’re doing it,” she says. “If you’re doing [it] because there’s a void, make sure you are recognized and acknowledged for that contribution.” Alonzo is now vice president of production and inventory operations for Lifetime Television. The Dominican Republic native oversees a 27-person staff in New York City.

According to Nice Girls, Alonzo made the right moves. “While women are doing the grunt work, men are building their careers. They’re no fools. Promotions are rewards for getting the job done, not necessarily doing the job,” writes Frankel.

Black women in particular often find themselves in the role of “superwoman,” battling perceptions imposed by white co-workers. The Catalyst study found that 32% of black women say their white colleagues perceive them as “under-qualified.”

“This whole issue of working too hard and doing others’ work is a function of that,” says Kumea Shorter-Gooden, a California psychologist who with Charisse Jones co-authored Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America (HarperCollins; $25.95), a book featuring qualitative surveys and interviews with 399 women. “We heard from many

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