Be sure to check out InPowerCoaching.com for online professional development and InPowerWomen.com for inspirational insights from women leaders. ~Dana Theus, President & CEO
In my last post about how there is a growing schism between the values held by employees and those held by their employers, and how it’s driving employees out the door.
I noted that 54% of millenials are planning on leaving their firms to try entrepreneurship. This is a big number, but even that is dwarfed by a study by Harris Interactive that found 74% of employees of all ages would look for another job if they could. The reasons? According to Alan Hall, Accenture reports that 31% don’t like their boss, 31% feel unempowered, 35% are tired of internal politics and 43% don’t feel recognized for their work.
A 74% level of employee dissatisfaction represents a costly vulnerability for companies, especially as affordable health care and technology reduce the costs for employees to take the risk of entrepreneurship. Projecting forward, the cost to a dissatisfied employee going out on their own is going down as a percentage of their annual salary, while the relative costs to the employer to replace them are on the rise. Today employers can spend 150% or more of a skilled employee’s annual salary recruiting and training their replacements.
While the cost to replace a low-skilled worker is decidedly less than this, many of the people leaving are the most emotionally intelligent and creative. When so many analysts point to both these qualities as keys to competitiveness, on a company- and economy-wide scale, creative brains draining from cubeville should be of concern to employers (though it might actually be good news for the entrepreneurial economy. Continue reading
Early in my corporate career in global companies, I got some massive doses of “company politics” and learned how important they were to my career. I learned that if certain people weren’t willing to go to bat for me, my climb up to the next level (or anywhere, really) would be severely hampered. Working for smaller startups wasn’t terribly different, and there were fewer people to politic with, so in some ways learning how to play the game was even more important.
I’ll admit that many times I found myself thinking, “if people would just stop playing all the games and let me do my job I’d be successful!” It was frustrating.
But as my career progressed and I learned more about leadership and how organizations really worked, I came to appreciate “politics” in a different way.
Organizations are social creatures, made up of social ties between people. When people get together, they can make amazing things happen. That’s how companies and organizations succeed; that’s where their power comes from. So how can you lead a social unit successfully if you can’t be influential within the social culture?
You can’t. So if you want to lead and make things happen, you need to learn to “play” within the culture you hope to lead and effect. It’s part of how you gain credibility to be effective. Continue reading
It’s counter-intuitive that if we don’t think we are biased, we probably are! But when you realize that bias is natural and that we all have it, then it makes sense that being aware of your bias is the best way to counter-act it. We love this advice from Dana on how to think about bias and work to limit it’s impact in your workplace. ~InPower Editors
(Another) Open Letter to Corporate Leadership:
Do you run a meritocracy? Does your company promote only the best and brightest? Is your hiring process color- and gender-blind?
If you said yes to any of the above, the chances are that your company is none of those things. Why? Because our biases towards hiring white men over women and people of color are documented, unconscious and most prevalent in those who deny they have them.
Don’t get upset, though; this certainly doesn’t mean you’re a sexist or a racist. It just means that you’re human and living in the 21st century.
But just because a non-diverse leadership team isn’t your fault, this doesn’t mean it’s not your problem.
Your biases, and the biases of your company’s current leadership may be quickly backing you into a corner when it comes to leadership development for the next wave of leaders who will move the company forward.
In a previous post, I described how women are the canaries in the coal mine for corporate leadership development. As women are leaving corporate America to start new businesses at one-and-a-half times the rate of men, these birds are flying out the entrance of your mine, and the millennials (who share similar values) may soon begin to follow them. They’re leaving companies like yours right and left for entrepreneurial endeavors in search of meaningful work and quality of life, and they’re taking their talent with them. Continue reading
Open Letter to Corporate Leadership:
I want to dispel a myth that still circulates in our economy when people try to explain why the percentage of women on the management track plummets from 53% of the entry-level workforce to 20% or less in leadership. The myth goes something like this: “Women get to childbearing age about the time they’d be ready for promotion, and a lot of them leave to start families.”
Wrong. The truth is that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 58% of women in the U.S. are working in the civilian workforce (only 6% fewer than working men.) Importantly the percentage of working mothers is 65%, which is 2% above the number of working men. Continue reading
This guest post from Laurie Erdman reminds us that even though we are often encouraged to play small and create a work environment where I staffs can play small too, this helps nobody. It takes courage to play big. Where can you play bigger than you do today? ~Dana
Much is written about why fast growing companies perform so well in a down economy. There are many factors including attitude toward risk, communicating vision, resilience, and embracing innovation.
One overlooked factor is the company’s attitude toward employee wellbeing. More specifically, we rarely hear that fast growing companies (those defying the economic outlook) are committed to creating an energized work environment that fosters resilience, vision and innovation.
One of the ways these companies do this is by creating a place where employees can play big. Are you and your team playing big? Continue reading
What is the glass ceiling these days?
The traditional view is that the glass ceiling is the white male’s comfy, old boy culture at the top that is threatened by the entrance of women into their private enclaves. In these secret nooks and crannies of corporate culture, it’s thought, leadership culture is one of alpha-dogmanship, cutthroat competition and kingmaking where women simply don’t fit.
There is certainly truth to the idea that white men rule the top ranks of most powerful organizations in our world. Studies continue to find that cultural barriers shunt women off the corporate ladder midway to the top, men run the government and gender bias is real.
The prevailing belief I hear most often about how to address this phenomenon – reflecting the assumption that the glass ceiling is just a product of recalcitrant men – is that if women could just shatter past the glass ceiling in greater numbers, we would automagically fix the problem by fixing the culture. However, I’m not so sure it’s this simple. Recent research shows that in at least one traditional organization this did not happen, and there’s no end of anecdotal insight about how some senior women who’ve “made it” do not help their more junior female colleagues. Continue reading
Once in a while I run across something I didn’t know I knew, and then I sit up and pay attention. This article by Richard Boyatzis is fascinating because it identifies the science of emotional contagion – the way one person’s emotional orientation can affect a whole group. It also calls out in scientific terms how powerfully a leader affects their team emotionally and the positive impact this can have in helping the staff learn and adapt – or not.
Edward Snowden’s revelations of what the National Security Agency (NSA) knows about us have gotten us talking about the role of secrecy in a free society. This is an important conversation, despite the fact that Snowden and the press seem to have shifted from principle-driven to ego-driven tactics, and taken the media discussion on this matter with him. So even though the important debate on secrecy vs. transparency is fading from the headlines, we can look to this discussion for leadership lessons. In particular we can look at how our businesses use information to gain, or lose, market advantage and where our greatest vulnerabilities may lie.
Secrecy has its place in business and it’s appropriate that certain decisions get made behind closed doors and that some of them stay there. This is especially true regarding information assets like Intellectual Property, competitively driven product improvements and market-driven rollout calendars (think Apple). However, there is other sensitive information to manage as well and it’s in this gray area that too many leadership cultures take the secrecy thing to the wrong extreme and they pay for it in eroded stakeholder trust and engagement. Continue reading
Having a well-placed, successful mentor can be the difference between success and failure on the leadership track – but it is definitely more an art than a science for the mentor and the mentee.
I recently started hosting a radio show interviewing CEOs of small-to-mid-sized companies. One question that male leaders love to answer is “tell us about your mentors?” It turns out that very few men make it to the top without mentors. For women, this experience is less consistent. I believe it’s because the “old girls club” works more like a sewing circle than a smoke-filled room and for better or worse, some women just don’t feel comfortable bringing up the next generation in a deliberately helpful manner. This is changing, of course, as more women succeed, but I find that women benefit more from “learning how” to mentor and be a mentee. It’s not as culturally obvious to us how mentorship works and how we can use it to our advantage. Continue reading
If you write a leadership blog you know the challenge of dredging the stock photo sites for perfectly politically correct photos of happy business women and men sporting every hue of skin color from creamy white to chocolate brown. If you actually run a business, you know the photo-dredgers have it easy when it comes to filling the executive suite with such variety. Building a diverse workforce isn’t so hard given the growing numbers of minorities in the U.S. population, but grooming them into leadership is another matter entirely. Continue reading