As a woman, I am bored of the endless businesses designed to increase the opportunities for women in business. I’m tired of hearing women spout research statistics extolling the benefits of women’s leadership to a company’s bottom line. I’m fed up with women lamenting the fact that there are not enough inspiring female role models in business. I’m sick of hearing women blame men for their lack of business success. In short, I’m weary of the women’s movement.
You might believe that by tuning out, you can absolve yourself of responsibility. However, consider what Moliere, the 17th century French playwright, had to say about this very issue: “It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.”
My question is this: how do you correct the damage that’s already been done? Perhaps you are one of those people who have been affected by this gender bias, and it’s having a negative impact on your career. What makes biases particularly challenging is that they often get filed away in the unconscious, where they direct your behaviours without you even realising it, manifesting when you least expect it.
The manifesto might make Agile seem a little idealistic, but the fact is, it works. In my view, it takes into account a more accurate reflection of what life is really like. The one guarantee we have in life is change. If you’re able to cope with change as a fact of reality, you significantly increase your chances of navigating your way adeptly around the future. If, however, you find change unsettling, you will be in for a bumpy, difficult ride.
This may be hugely controversial, but I’m going to say it. Trump may just be the best thing that’s happened to women’s empowerment and leadership. In fact, he’s exactly what women need to transform the narrative and more importantly, the situation in which women frequently find themselves.
What did my being a superhero look like? Well, whenever there was a request for help, I was there. Whenever someone in the programme was stuck, I reached out. Whenever someone struggled to meet their targets, I pulled strings to have them succeed. Whenever someone behaved inappropriately, I delivered the searing insight that helped them break through their limiting beliefs. Whenever, whenever, whenever… Until…
I, in turn, felt it was a sad indictment of the realities of corporate life, namely that people are trading authenticity and growth for monetary rewards and the perceived security that comes from having a job. It’s a different sort of slavery, one that has you sell your soul in exchange for a monthly pay packet. It’s a game of payoff in which people feel they must choose meeting basic survival needs over emotional, psychological and spiritual satisfaction.
I speak to a lot of people about management, and each person has said the same thing: they would have made significantly different career choices had they been given greater support at the start of their management journey. Is this true for you?
A little self-doubt is perfectly normal, important even, as it keeps your ego in check and ensures you lead the charge having covered as many of the bases as possible. Where the Imposter Syndrome poses a problem is in the way you manage it - or not, as the case may be. It’s vital that you tackle Imposter Syndrome, especially if you’re a leader.
Have you equipped your managers and leaders with the MINDSET required to assume responsibility for another person’s career? A people- and success-oriented mindset comprises the most fundamental foundation for successful leadership, and yet it remains largely ignored by most organisations. I want to know why.
Victor Lipman, Forbes and Psychology Today journalist and former executive of a Fortune 500 company, thoroughly explains how this works in practice in his book, The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully In a Type A World. Written for the Type B (and I would suggest the Type C) manager, Lipman draws largely on his own experiences of survival, growth and development as a Type B senior manager for a large insurance company made up of Type A management.
As a leader, you will have cognitive biases. Everyone does. Ever wondered why you dislike or avoid certain people? Ever wonder why certain situations “push your buttons?” A cognitive bias will be at play. Now, unless you make a conscious effort to manage these aspects of your thinking, it’s likely these biases will either be unconscious, or you’ll be so convinced of their validity that you assume them to be true, not recognising that, in fact, they’re opinions and judgments. Neither opinion or judgment is truth, I might add. It’s just a point of view based on conjecture and not fact.
Consider what unconscious commitment might have been at play in Virgin’s strategy that my travel mates (all of us tall people) and I encountered on this journey that had us endure an uncomfortable seven-hour flight. It’s not the kind of commitment you’ll see in Virgin’s customer literature, but you will see it in their shareholder report. Any guesses? Economies of scale. By packing us into the cabin, they were able to sell more tickets, serving more people while keeping staffing, fuel and various airport costs consistent. They create greater efficiencies for the company bottom line. However, what’s the cost to the customer, and ultimately, what’s the cost to customer loyalty?
People often confuse the ego with inflation and arrogance. The advice you often hear is to transcend the ego, kill it off or pretend it doesn’t exist. Consider, though, that these little digs are not just misguided, but a form of self-abuse that stems from a misunderstanding of the function of the ego itself.
It struck me as I read the Harvard Business Review article, The One Thing About Your Spouse’s Personality That Really Affects Your Career, that, as much as we try to divorce different aspects of our lives from each other, there is an inevitable blending of the two. Try as we might, we feel the impact in one area, and it bleeds into the other.
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