Men are men. Women are women. Right? The matter of gender is easy enough to establish, but in Lois P. Frankel's book, "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers" we learn there are underlying mores and premises to follow if women want to be at the top of a company. These rules are unspoken, but Frankel demystifies the process by which some women hurt their success by playing into the cultural roles prescribed to them growing up.
Frankel presumes most women grew up in a home that oppresses women from growing up into full adults. What may have been true for 1954 is not as true today. However, her challenge is still with merit, and in 2004, it crosses the gender barrier. We men should be taking notes from Frankel. There are plenty of little boys among us who need to work as men.
"Rosie the Riveter" ads during WWII encouraged women into the workplace, but often as factory and shipyard works. There was no "Annie the Accountant" or "Sally the CEO" campaigns. Being all you can be means being more than you were as a child. Frankel helps show how women can be more than little girls in the office place, and garner success as a result.
It is important to note that as much as this is an important book for women who esteem to be seen as professional should read, men also should read it. Not every man has reached his potential, and some fall to the same problems, in a masculine variation, as do some women. Fear, exhibited through the lack of initiative and an overborne, unnecessary kindness, holds many people back.
Objective, straightforwardness is much of what Frankel asserts.
Being professional doesn't mean you need to convert into a stomping intimidator, but it does mean being firm, not wincing when rejection is forthcoming, and thinking about more than immediate relationships. It is about getting the job done well, in concert with others, but never becoming weak while doing it all. You have expertise. You have training. You have what it takes.
Although Frankel is a professional coach, her book itself shows a coach is not needed. You need to be in control of your career, without worrying about the next person. Retain your ethics, your integrity and your aplomb, but it is your job to lead the way through your professional life. No parents, no coach, no friends are responsible for this.
I fully recommend "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers" by Lois P. Frankel. Follow it up with the classic Dale Carnegie book, "How To Win Friends And Influence People," to learn the other side of the professional relationship balance.