“Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat.”
Becky Sheetz-Runkle, a marketing strategist and martial artist, has adapted ancient strategies of war for women to compete in today’s workplace. Sheetz-Runkle, the author of Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business, was the keynote presenter at the Missouri Women’s Council workshop this week in Jefferson City.
According to Sheetz-Runkle, everybody has a unique and decided competitive advantage. Understanding and using that advantage can the difference between top of game success/satisfaction and not living up to potential/feeling unfulfilled. She delves into Chinese philosopher-general Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for common pitfalls and competitive advantages for women in business.
Common Pitfalls for Women in Business
- Be your authentic self: You don't have to do it like the men. "You won't be successful unless you are like you" according to Sheetz-Runkle.
- Imposter syndrome: A study of 150 high level women revealed that they had high levels of self doubt and fear, and overworked to compensate for perceived shortcomings.
- Not asking for what we want: Another study showed that men open negotiations four times more than women, and their starting salaries are higher. Sheetz-Runkle says that often women don’t ask for what they want, ask indirectly, or just work harder to so that someone will notice and reward the effort.
- Knowing when to fight: Sheetz-Runkle quotes The Art of War, “He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will win" and adds “move only if there is a real advantage to moving.”
- Fear and the comfort zone: Sheetz-Runkle noted this is not just for women, and suggested that people reflect on how fear has impacted career and business decision
- Battleground mistakes
- Fighting on others’ terms. She suggests strategizing on how can you change the landscape to your advantage.
- Not playing the game. According to Sheetz-Runkle, men see networking as part of the game, women see it as disingenuous.
- Hard work is not enough. Women “have this idea that if we just work hard enough, we will be rewarded,” she said.
Primary success attributes
Sheetz-Runkle went on to describe positive attributes that many women have, but don’t always value in the business world. These traits are sometimes undervalued, but can give women a natural competitive advantage. She did note that these attributes aren’t possessed by everyone, but if you have them, use them.
- Collaboration and team building
- Emotional intelligence
- Nurturing subordinates
Sheetz-Runkle encourages women to use their unique attributes and assets. “Challenge, even change the rules if you must, and you will win.”
Post contributed by Kate Hodel, MOSourceLink
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