Gender Equity at Work

Gender Equity at Work

How do you ensure gender equity at work? To be sure, making our way through the pandemic has required real focus; for many leaders, keeping the lights on has been priority one. And yet, I’ve noticed that great leaders have managed to reach the light at the end of the tunnel without losing sight of the gender gap. They understand the advantages of inclusivity and gender equity. Unfortunately, they remain the exception, rather than the norm. Consider this: prior to the pandemic, the percentage of men and women employed in the U.S. was almost equal, and yet the ranks of leadership remained male-dominated. Women remain underrepresented in positions of power and status. The highest-paying jobs are the most gender-imbalanced as organizational barriers and managerial actions limit opportunities for even the most promising women. In the new book Glass Half-Broken, authors Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg share their research on the gender gap. They reveal how women are squeezed from the leadership pipeline through their entire careers, and for a wide variety of reasons. According to the authors, “The gender imbalance at the top still remains, even in many women dominated industries such as health care and education, where men are still more likely to be found in leadership and executive roles.” Fortunately, many organizations have made great progress in bridging the gender gap. They fairly value the capabilities and contributions made by women. Why? Successful Gender Equity Successful organizations—and leaders—understand that gender equity at work is advantageous for everyone. Here are just a few of the advantages: Improved thinking and decisions. Increased focus and innovation. Greater access to talent.... read more
Get Your Career Mojo On!

Get Your Career Mojo On!

How is your career mojo? Navigating a return to work after a long absence can be daunting, especially if it requires securing a new position. Typically, most people rely on networking as a common strategy. However, with so many workers, managers, and leaders furloughed or laid off, the competition can be fierce. Add to that bias about long-term unemployment, and even great mojo can take a hit. There remains in our culture a stigma about long-term unemployment. This is especially true for the more mature knowledge workers who internalize self-blame or stigmas. Left unchecked, long-term unemployment can suck the air out of our spirit. When this happens our mojo becomes a no go, or as Marshall Goldsmith coined it, “nojo.” According to Goldsmith, nojo occurs when we become dispirited and confused. This is happening right now with two common mistakes: waiting for the facts to change, and looking for logic in all the wrong places. As a result, we get stuck, and stay stuck. Fortunately, there is action we can take to navigate a successful return to work. Avoid Mojo Traps Waiting for the facts to change. When we experience a setback, such as a loss of a job, it’s not uncommon to wait for the facts to change into something more to our liking. Similarly, when we are given the choice between two undesirable options, we’ll often choose neither. But, in a rapidly changing world, such inaction can be akin to moving backward. Instead, consider what action you would take if you knew the situation would not change. Ask yourself, “Which path do I choose?” Looking for logic... read more
Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

Post-Pandemic Work: The Future is Now

What will work look like in your organization, post-Covid? When the pandemic ends, which new normal adaptations will endure? Our common response to massive disruption, such as a pandemic, is to hope for and assume things will return to normal. However, do we really want to return to all the old ways of doing business? This topic comes up frequently with my clients right now. And it makes sense: planning for an uncertain future is challenging, even for great leaders and managers. They want to avoid old “bad” habits, and incorporate new policies and processes that make sense for their organization, including their employees. Savvy leaders and managers understand the importance of an effective strategy, careful planning, and great execution in order to emerge from this pandemic. But do we truly know, and understand, how our work has been changed? When the Pandemic Ends… A massive disruption provides an opportunity to examine how things were before, including our view of the future. Based on an analysis of consumer and business trends, The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) recently published a report on the future of work. According to MGI, remote work, digitization, and automation were accelerated by the pandemic. They predict that these trends will “have a lasting impact on workers and work, even after the pandemic.” However, others caution about expectation management. It is incredibly wonderful how so many have come together to create solutions, now and for the future. It is truly remarkable how we adapt: remaining flexible, creative, and productive through-out the process. A pandemic changes the way we work, learn, and live. It alters our perceptions... read more
The Power of Cognitive Flexibility and Persuasion

The Power of Cognitive Flexibility and Persuasion

“In a turbulent world, success depends not just on cognitive horsepower but also on cognitive flexibility. When leaders lack the wisdom to question their convictions, followers need the courage to persuade them to change their minds.” – Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, PhD As a coach, I work with some really incredible people who have an amazing depth of wisdom. They rely on their knowledge, skills, experience, and intuition, and it serves them well. However, they will also be the first to tell you that there have been times when they regret rejecting the opinions and ideas of others in favor of their own, let’s just say, unwise ideas. When asked what led up to this, some will point to blind spots, or hidden bias. But others confess to simple over confidence: they wouldn’t listen to others and held fast to what they believed to be true. It’s not uncommon for leaders. After all, their expertise often catapults them to where they are today. But, have you noticed how truly great leaders have the wisdom and courage to question their own convictions? They do this with three key tactics: Accept that everyone has limits, including you. Surround yourself with a diversity of experts and empower them to ethically and courageously persuade you. Practice flexibility, collaboration, and compromise. Sounds simple enough, but…why don’t we “just do it?” Why We Believe Everything We Think First, it’s easy to forget that we don’t know what we don’t know. Add to that how facts quickly change, either through new data, discoveries, or perspectives, and what was once right may be outdated. Second, as leaders... read more
Manage Burnout for Peak Performance

Manage Burnout for Peak Performance

Peak performance is not what it used to be, according to leaders, managers, and employees who report teetering on the brink of burnout. And it’s not just individuals: entire organizations are at risk. Within the first seven weeks of 2021, Harvard Business Review published six articles on the topic, including how the pandemic contributes to burnout, how to recognize burnout, and how to fight burnout. But instead, what if we could avoid burnout and maintain peak performance? Although burnout is not classified as a medical condition or mental disorder (DSM-5), in 2019—pre-pandemic—the World Health Organization (WHO) re-defined the occupational phenomenon of burnout in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). According to the WHO, “burnout is a syndrome…resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” and includes three dimensions: Feeling of energy depletion Feeling of negativity/cynicism related to personal occupation or increasing mental distancing from occupation Reduced professional/occupational efficacy Typically, we avoid burnout by taking breaks: we enjoy several weeks of vacation, spend time away, and de-stress with a change of scenery and energizing activities. But for many, this has not been an option during the past year. Add to that virtual offices and work from home (WFH) practices, and stay-cations don’t recharge us like we need. Reaching and maintaining peak performance, for individuals and organizations, requires ongoing daily energy management. Four Dimensions Energy has four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual (or ritual). We draw energy from each dimension, which we must replenish. To build our strength and expand our energy capacity (stamina/resilience) we must stretch ourselves beyond our usual limits and allow for rest. This... read more
Calm, Cool, and Collected: Communication in Conflict

Calm, Cool, and Collected: Communication in Conflict

How do you remain calm, cool, and collected when conflicts escalate? We’ve all been there: encountering someone in a fit of road rage; a neighbor upset about another neighbor’s transgression; dealing with a beloved toddler in the middle of a melt-down. Typically, we ignore such bad behavior, waiting for it to resolve itself. But, these may be prime opportunities to practice de-escalation techniques and communication skills. Generally speaking, we trust that our co-workers are capable of resolving conflicts and able to avoid crisis in the workplace. If a situation does escalate, equipped and available managers step in. But consider this: according to the most recent report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), over 20,000 workers experienced trauma from workplace violence in 2018. How does this happen? Conflict Escalation Multiple factors can escalate a situation, including: Physical: Pain/illness, sleep deprivation, low blood sugar/dehydration, prescription changes Mental or cognitive: Unhelpful thoughts/thinking patterns, negative perceptions, critical inner voice Emotional: Pre-existing mood disorders, past trauma, etc. Social: Lack of healthy support network, isolation Environmental: Visual or auditory triggers, audience Spiritual: Sense of connection to higher power or that which offers hope, faith, purpose While a crisis is not typically caused by one event, there is often a tipping point. Most common is the death of a significant other, loss of a relationship, loss of work, homelessness, or cabin fever. A crisis occurs when people perceive that they have encountered insurmountable obstacles to their goals, their life cycle or routine is significantly disrupted, and they have no appropriate method to manage their situation. In other words, they believe they have... read more
The Matter of Business Ethics

The Matter of Business Ethics

We are making great strides in corporate social responsibility. Many reflect changes in business policies and practices. But when it comes to business ethics, are we really improving? Consider this: almost 120 years ago, German socialist, economist, and politician Max Weber published his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, emphasizing that personal integrity and reputation matters: they form the basis of good business relationships. A person’s words are their bond and business can be counted on with a handshake. Jump to the turn of the century. For six consecutive years, Fortune magazine deemed Enron one of the most innovative organizations and two months after being publicized, Enron filed for bankruptcy, bringing down companies and 1,000’s of individuals with it. Not long after, new regulations and legislation were enacted including penalties regarding records and the accountability of auditing firms. Then came the financial crisis of 2007-08, where organizations were deemed “too big to fail,” generating other hazards, risks, and an uneven playing field. Headlines, book lists, and social media are filled with other examples, several from the most recent past. How did we get here? And more importantly, where do we go from here? What We Don’t See In Moral Mazes (Oxford University Press, 2009), Robert Jackall suggests that modern bureaucracy has created a “society within a society” in which there is a set of ethical standards that may not be consistent with those of the larger society. Our current capitalistic society goes along with these sub-societies, as long as they are successful. Generally, the larger the organization, the more complex the strategy and operations. It might... read more
A Better Manager for 2021

A Better Manager for 2021

How are you preparing to be a better manager in 2021? Employees look to their managers and business leaders to help them make sense of complexities within their own organization, as well as the external world. They seek reassurance that their own experiences and perspective is accurate, and that there exists an adequate framework to create and maintain stability and move forward. More than ever before, employees need to be able to trust their leaders. According to a recent article published by Harvard Business Review, trust is comprised of four components:   Competence: the ability to get the job done Motives: our reasons (or reasoning)  Fair means: consistency in applying the same rules to offer rewards or assign punishments Impact: the consequences of all actions In a chaotic world, business leaders cultivate trust and help their employees when they clarify their values, develop their communication abilities, and connect in meaningful ways. Clarify Your Values Your values are the underlying foundation in how you make decisions and take action (or non-action.) They are at the core of your motives, how you prioritize, and the sacrifices you make to reach your goals. Your values have a great impact in how you reconcile conflict. Consider your attitude in relation to other people. What are your obligations to your family, friends, and community? What will you leave as a legacy to the next generation? As a mentor, what values or core beliefs would you want to pass on? Below is a sample of values. If you were to rank each from 1 – 10 (with one being the most important to you), what would be your top... read more
The Next Wave in Leadership Development: Habits

The Next Wave in Leadership Development: Habits

As a leader, what role do you take in your own leadership development? If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of seeing the big picture without losing sight of the small details. This requires a tremendous skill in balancing priorities, energy, and focus. And while most great leaders can take pride in their ability to multi-task under stress, this year has really tested their abilities. Leaders are called on again and again to shift their attention from one priority to another. They must consistently and consciously choose (and judge) that which is deserving of their attention. They must ignore impertinent distractions. Developing the right leadership skills and habits is critical to personal and organizational success. The Importance of Habits Consider this: 80% of our results stems from only 20% of our efforts, according to Joseph M. Juran. In the context of our productivity and efficiency, this means that only about 20% of our activities actually provide the results we are looking for, professionally and personally.                       To devote more time and energy to our most important activities we need to be able to recognize and say “no” to the people, places, and things that distract us from achieving our goals. This isn’t always easy, especially when we really like our distractions, or worse, our distractions become bad habits. Disrupting the habits that are counter-productive is important, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Unless a new routine takes its place, the pattern will continue automatically. Fortunately, we’ve come to a new level of understanding about habits, and we’re learning and practicing new techniques to improve them. The Importance of Focus... read more
Expectation Management

Expectation Management

What are your plans to bring in the new year? Will you celebrate? Maybe this is the year to try a new custom from a different culture. For example, in many Latin cultures it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck in the coming 12 months. Some carry an empty suitcase around the block in hopes of a travel-filled new year. Others hang an onion on the door as a symbol of rebirth; a chance to start anew. Of course, hope, optimism, and positivity are important. They help us set and achieve goals, another common tradition for the new year. However, optimism can be dangerous when planning and forecasting. Realism is key when making decisions, committing large sums of money, and setting certain expectations. Research has found that almost everyone who has a propensity to be optimistic in their world view tends to have greater success, better health, and longer life. However, beliefs and expectations must be based on achievable reality. You see, expectations have a profound effect on our energy, drive, and happiness. In the recent Harvard Business Review article, “How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted,” Dr. Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg writes: “It feels like the whole world is tired. Even though the vaccine shines a light at the end of the tunnel, the home stretch will be long and perhaps take a greater toll on our professional and personal lives than we expect it to.” This is an ominous warning, and an opportunity for expectation management. Expectation Variables There are two variables to consider in the management of our expectations: our expectations of... read more

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