Getting the Corner Office

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

women that they work extra hard to keep from being seen as unintelligent and incompetent,” she continues.

Alonzo offers this advice to do-it-all types who hope to get ahead:

Get your fair share of visible work. As a promotion coordinator at the NBC network 15 years ago, Alonzo got stuck working weekend and evening shifts. “Meanwhile,” she says, “all the decisions and important meetings were taking place during the week and in the mornings.” After seething for several months, she suggested to her boss that the work shifts be distributed differently, saying, “‘I want my fair share so that I also get the same visibility. I want to be exposed to the early-morning assignment meetings. I want to know what goes on so that I can learn.”

Learn to delegate not only to manage your workload but also to strengthen your team. “I saw those who did not delegate and what happened to them,” she says. “They would burn out and the people under them didn’t learn. They’d be stuck because there was no one there who could take on the stuff they did. If you don’t empower those under you, they’re never going to be ready and you’re never going to be ready to move on.”

MISTAKE No. 3: Waiting to Be Given What You Want
L. Renee Richardson has always been adamant about sounding the trumpet for African American consumers and the $618 billion market they represent.

Backed with supporting statistics, she pitched a new concept for educating clients to her Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) bosses. The result was last year’s “Living Beyond the Boundaries,” a one-day media expo and panel discussion that introduced Starcom clients and the media-buying industry to the power and influence of the African American marketplace.

“If we’d been waiting around for someone to say, ‘Go do it,’ it probably would not have happened. That had a lot to do with me getting this position. They could see this was my passion,” says Richardson, a 15-year industry veteran who, last November, received her dream job — director of African American markets for Tapestry, the multicultural division of Chicago-based SMG.

“Passion determines purpose,” says Richardson, who’s also a motivational speaker and teacher. “You are responsible for your career. You have to let people know these are your needs and that you are expecting these things to happen.”

When Richardson began working at Starcom 15 years ago, she was a “nice little Christian girl expecting that if you just work really hard, people will look out for you.” But she got frustrated every time she received a green memo sheet announcing the promotion of another colleague.

Finally, she marched into her boss’s office, the latest green memo clutched firmly in hand. To her surprise, her boss became her advocate. Richardson was promoted to media supervisor two months later, and finally saw her own name on one of those infamous green sheets.

“Once they learn you have a voice,” she says, “they’ll listen to you more. The Scripture says, ‘You have not because you ask not.’” That’s especially

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