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Tips on what it takes to excel in a man’s world

Omeshnie Naidoo reviews Play to Win for the Cape Argus.

Here are a few tips to excel from the book:

Business is a game
For men, business is a game. You need to treat it as one too. The basic play is that you strategise to make money. It’s like playing Monopoly. You’ve got to let it go – don’t take it all so seriously.
Business is about leveraging and assembling the right team and understanding the business model so that you can implement the strategy and make money. And then it becomes fun.

It’s not personal
Women are judged on their personality, be it “abrasive”, “judgmental” or “strident”, while men are judged on their competence. So while it may be true that women take criticism more personally – probably because we’re socialised to be people pleasers, and to keep the peace – we often bear the brunt of more personal criticism.
The trick is in identifying the difference between criticism of your work – genuine feedback on what you do – and criticism of who you are. Always deal with the behaviour (as it applies to work) rather than the person.

Don’t wait to get noticed
Rachelson says it’s important to walk the floor at work, and ensure people in the company know who you are and what you do. Don’t just restrict yourself to the few square metres your desk inhabits. Introduce yourself to others, find out what they do, let them know what you’re about. Find ways to raise your visibility.
It can be hard to look at yourself and your achievements objectively. But there are ways of ensuring you get noticed. Update your boss on your progress. When there is a victory, be the first to announce it. Remember that being visible is half the battle. You can’t play if you can’t be seen.

Ditch the small moves
Khanyi Dhlomo went from beauty editor to editor of True Love magazine when she was just 22. Within a year of her appointment, True Love’s circulation doubled from 70 000 to 140 000 and the magazine became the most widely read women’s magazine in the country.
If you’re not pushing the limits of your career comfort zone, you’re wasting opportunities.

Get a sponsor, not a mentor
That means someone who will advocate for you, and it’s most likely to be a man. “Men are a catalyst to our transformation. The individuals who contributed to my success were mostly men,” says Jo-Ann de Wet, operations director at McDonald’s, and one of the many South African businesswomen who share their opinion in the book. She says: “There are many men who serve as cheerleaders of women.”
According to the Harvard Business Review study called “The Sponsor Effect”, women in the upper echelons of business management who have a sponsor are at least 22 percent more likely to take risks such as asking for an assignment that will stretch them or asking for an increase.

Read the full article here.