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Playing to Win in Business by Shirley Weis

If you’re going to win, you have to play by the rules
For women just entering the workforce, aspiring to move into management, or stuck somewhere along the way, it’s important they understand the rules of the game. During my career, starting out as a nurse’s aide and going all the way to Chief Administrative Officer of the Mayo Clinic where I was responsible for overseeing 60,000 employees and operations of a $9 billion healthcare system, I have learned some very valuable career advice along the way, and I’m going to share nine of them with you today.

You see, many women do not know that there are rules in every workplace and if you want to advance, you must learn what they are and how to apply them.

Here are 9 Playing to Win Principles:
1. It’s a big game
Work is a game. Before jumping in and committing mistakes you can’t recover from, pay attention: “What are the rules? What does it take to succeed at this game?”
2. Know thyself
Take inventory of your strengths, weaknesses and skill set. Ask yourself, “Is this going to be satisfying for me? Am I willing to do what it takes to win?
3. Learn the rules
The Big Rules are easy to find in a policy manual. The unspoken rules are trickier. What is (and isn’t) shared in meetings? How do others interact with the boss?
4. Who’s “Winning?”
Define “winning”. Landing that big promotion? Developing work/life balance? What do you want out of life, and your career?
5. Develop grit and perseverance
Take on assignments that no one else wants. Be seen as someone who is willing to take on tough projects and get them done. This is the difference between winners and losers.
6. Become an expert
What are you most passionate about? Become an expert on it. When a crisis arises (as they inevitably do) people look for who knows the most about the issue and who can address the problem. You.
7. Manage losses
The road to success is paved with losses and you must learn to deal with it. Admit the loss and move on. How we deal with it is critical to long-term success.
8. Keep the naysayers at bay
Some will criticize without understanding or caring about what you’re are trying to do. “I’m just being real and authentic.” Don’t let them get to you. Put on your game face. Connect with people who are supportive.

9. Time to quit

Some think quitting is bad, but there are times when quitting is exactly the right thing to do. Maybe you don’t want to play this game anymore. Then it is time to leave. Learn to do this gracefully.

About the Author
Shirley Weis recently retired from her role as Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic. She speaks nationwide on topics in business, leadership, and women’s career development and is the author of Playing to Win in Business: Book One of the Just Respect for Women Series. For more information, visit

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