3 Tips for Female Teammates


There are three really costly mistakes that women make when working in teams. The first is that because of how busy women’s lives are, particularly working women’s lives: trying to get out of the house, trying to make sure the kids have their lunches packed and their permission forms and their ballet shoes and one of the mistakes we make is when we get to our 8:30 meeting we think that that was the accomplishment and we kind of, “Sigh, I’ve made it!” And unfortunately, then we don’t add our full value. One of the big mistakes that women make is actually not showing up and giving confidently all they have to give and that really goes from not only your experience, but your relationships, your connections, the places you’ve worked before, but also your personality and your style. So a big mistake women make on teams is that they don’t add their full value.

The second mistake that they make is unfortunately they say yes to all the wrong things in trying to be keen and to be a great team player, they say yes and take on tasks, but often the tasks that make them seem more junior. So standing up and being the note taker at the flip-chart, being the one who runs to get the guest at reception; doing those sorts of things that instead of saying I am a peer and I am an equal to the men in the room and I’m going to add value on the same kinds of things as they do so knowing when to say no is really important for women and sometimes we get that wrong.

The third, and final, and perhaps the most costly is that we don’t know how to have conflict effectively and productive conflict is really the secret to innovation, to risk management, and it’s really the hallmark of healthy teams and instead what we find is women that have learned right from the earliest ages. I always tell the story: how many people had a grandmother who said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all… until we get into the car. We learn to be passive-aggressive and so the third, big, fatal flaw is not knowing how to have conflict very directly, openly, constructively, not in a mean way, but really going after the issue so that we can get them done. So whether that’s not adding your full value or shying away because you don’t think you have all the right answers, saying yes to the wrong kids of work or shying away from productive conflict, those are three of the biggest mistakes that women make on teams.

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