Let's say you are a high level executive and you get a great offer to serve on a corporate board. There is a ton of prestige in a board position and you really want to say yes. But first, you need your CEO to give his approval, particularly because the board position involves a substantial time commitment.
So, what do you do? Do you go ask your CEO if it's okay for you to take the board seat?
Apparently, that's the tactic some women have taken and the result hasn't been favorable. The CEO's answer was a pretty swift "no" followed by "we need your attention here at our company."
The lesson...it's all in the ask.
A few days ago, I moderated a panel of search executives who spoke about how important it is to frame the way you ask your boss for something.
Bonnie M. Crabtree, Managing Director of Korn Ferry's Miami office, said the way the women executives SHOULD have asked their CEO is the way men tend to ask when they want to take board seats....not really seeking permission but explaining the benefits and making the CEO feel it would be bad business not to agree to it.
It's the same approach women should take when they are asking for a raise or a flexible schedule.
Listen to a successful businessman ask for something from the boss and it usually goes like this: I'm going to do it and it's going to benefit you too. We both are going to prosper. (There's really no permission seeking involved)
Sheryl Sandberg tells women to stop showing self-defeating behavior in the workplace. If we're going to do that, we need to master "the ask." Let's say we want more money. Rather than ask for a raise, Sandberg explains, tell your boss the reasons you should get more money and how it is in his interest to give it to you.
Not knowing how to ask, and not asking well, can cost all of us money and opportunity. Simply put: our boss wants to feel like a winner. So if you're going to ask for something, keep that in mind and make yourself a winner, too.