Being well-liked at work pales in comparison to earning the respect and trust of your colleagues — at least that’s what Nancy Mahon, senior vice president of global philanthropy at the Estée Lauder Companies and global director of the MAC AIDS Fund, tells Business Insider.
“The persistent desire for approval is understandable considering the challenges women face in the business world,” Mahon says. As Jennifer Lawrence highlighted in her recent oped, there are a number of stereotypes regarding how women are perceived in the workplace.
“But when women care too much about being liked, they can lose sight of the things that matter most,” Mahon says.
She says the key to earning the respect of colleagues and bosses and forgetting about what people think or receiving backlash for making difficult but important decisions is figuring out company goals that align with yours and doing what’s necessary to accomplish them.
Mahon says she cringes when she thinks back to 25 years ago, when she was starting out in her career, and she was focused too much on fitting in and being accepted. She says she didn’t really find her stride and focus solely on doing good work until she got into corporate philanthropy and found her passion.
“When I stopped worrying about what other people thought and just focused on doing great work, my priorities were in the right place, which meant the work I was delivering was spot on with the company’s goals,” Mahon says. “I also exuded a new level of confidence that people respected, and it elevated my profile among colleagues as someone who was capable, strategic, and made intelligent decisions.”
When you’re focused on your priorities, Mahon says it’s far easier to stand up for what you know will help achieve these goals. “If you’ve got the right goals in mind, no one can wrong you for standing up for what will help achieve them,” she says.
Your gut will be right more than you think, Mahon says, especially when your priorities are in focus, so she advises following it at much as possible.
“In business, it’s not a popularity contest,” she says. “It’s about who can get the job done in the best, most efficient, effective way possible. Live by that, and you’ll go far.”
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