Alicia Boler-Davis is a wife, a mother and a master of multitasking in her dual roles as Senior Vice President, Global Quality & Customer Experience at General Motors. Boler-Davis—the highest ranking African American female executive in the history of General Motors—busted a few career myths at a recent media brunch held in Los Angeles.
Six Career Myths That Hold You Back
1. A mentor is your personal cheerleader.
A quality mentor will support you and let you know if you need to improve your game. “Mentorship is about personal development, recognizing there’s opportunity for you for you to build upon,” Boler-Davis says. “I like to give good, candid feedback that is relevant.”
2. Work-life balance can be achieved.
Work-life balance may be a myth; work-life integration is harmony.
It’s highly unlikely that you can devote an even 50/50 split of your time at work and at home. However, you can integrate your two worlds, suggests Boler-Davis.
“I had to learn what was more important for my family; and everything is not important for them. I’ve been in the plant at 5 a.m. (and they don’t expect me to get them ready for school), but they expect dinner, they expect that I’m going to be there for a game, and I’ve learned to know what’s important for them. I can’t do everything, children, husband, work meetings, activities, it’s all integrated on my calendar and I won’t miss the important things.”
3. No need to ask for that promotion; the higher-ups will notice your grind!
You won’t be considered for your dream job if you don’t ask for it.
“Don’t fear rejection. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you ask for something? You have to look past the fear of being turned down. I wasn’t afraid of being told no; I believed everyone knew I was doing a good job; but you’ve got to speak up; don’t assume [that the boss knows what you want, and what you can do well].”
4. The one with all the answers should lead the team.
An expert is not necessarily a leader.
“There’s a difference between being an expert and being a leader; so I had to change my leadership style. As an expert, it was important that I knew all the answers; as a leader, it is important that my team has all the answers.”
5. A mistake marks the end of your career.
A leader learns from her setbacks, she is not defeated by them, Boler-Davis advises.
“I try to balance the ups and downs and keep the focus on the long term. I try to keep the team real about it; so I ask, how do we fix that? How do we make sure this doesn’t happen again? How do we get better? I don’t tear people down, but I hold them accountable.”
6. Once you get the job, sit back and enjoy the perks.
Self-improvement doesn’t end after you get the job.
Boler-Davis’s schedule is full to the hilt, yet she is enrolled in an MBA program.
“I started an MBA program, and this is about knowing yourself…I need to make sure I’ve got the right tools in my toolbox, so I have to make some sacrifices. That’s important as women, to know yourself, to know what you’re good at; and if you see a hole somewhere, to fix it.”
Follow the conversation on Twitter @GM_Diversity, #GMLegendsTour.
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Filed under: Achievement, African Americans, Balance, Black Women, Business, Education, Ego-tripping, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Expectations, Girl Power, Girl Talk, Six Brown Chicks, Women, Work, Zondra Hughes
Tags: Alicia Boler-Davis, boss, career, career advice, careers, ceo, Diversity, General Motors, job seekers, jobs, Jocelyn K. Allen, Los Angeles, MBA, professional women, self-improvement, women, women ceo