corporate culture

Can Empathy Help You Overcome Bias?

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Almost everyone deals with bias, and there are many strategies to deal with it, but we love Dana and Kate’s takes on InPowered strategies for confronting bias with empathy and humility. Enjoy a not-so-obvious-but-very-effective strategy to deal with awkward and unfair situations you find yourself in. – InPower Editors

One of the key things to understand about InPower is that accessing it often seems counter-intuitive. For example, the InPowered response to things that make you angry is to not be angry in your response. And by that I mean, truly not angry. An InPowered response to something unfair is to release your anger and any other negative emotions and respond from a place of peace, gratitude, and joy . . . or, if that isn’t going to happen, a place of mission, focus and patience. If you’re just trying to hide it, it won’t work. If you feel it, others will too.

[Tweet “If you feel it, others will too. V @DanaTheus on #InPower #Women”]

This is a pretty abstract concept though (counter-intuitive things usually are), so I’m always on the lookout for good examples. Recently I read a fantastic post by Kate Nasser that not only talked about the power of Empathy and Humility (great traits!) to help deal with bias and unfair situations, but gave some great examples from Kate’s own experience. Please enjoy her post!

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3 Ways Managing Millennials Will Make You a Better Leader

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My son is 21 and in his second year of a summer office internship. He’s working hard, getting good reviews and privately developing a chip on his shoulder because he believes all us old people think millennial workers (18-30 year olds) are lazy and too full of themselves.

I thought he was just being overly sensitive until I started to see the anti-millenial posts pop up on my feed recently. Really? We’re going to do this again? We’re going to complain about the younger generation the way our parents complained about us? They’re going to take over our jobs and run our world someday. Let’s get on with helping them be effective and – more importantly – allowing them to make us better leaders while they’re at it.

1-Millennials require us to be vision driven

Millennials are driven to make an impact. Maybe it’s because so many of their parents told them they could; maybe it’s because they feel like the post 9/11 and financial crisis world (all they know) is crumbling around them, maybe they’re just not afraid to want to make a difference the way so many of us are and were. Continue reading

Part 2 of the Values Schism: Corporate America Needs To Get Real

A young attractive businesswoman working on her laptop

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

Is Office Politics Holding You Back?

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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.

People make things happen

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

Workplace Bias is a Fact: How not to run a meritocracy (and 3 ways to try)

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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

Women’s Corporate Exodus to Entrepreneurship

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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

Why Playing Small Doesn’t Serve You Or Your Company

july4_ginaMarieThis 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 If The Glass Ceiling Isn’t What We Think It Is?

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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

Co-opting the Power of the Toxic Boss

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Brain science and leadership make an interesting mix. While I think it’s fascinating to know how our brains work, often it tells us stuff we already know intuitively. Neuroscience gives us permission to know it!

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.

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Behind Closed Doors – Avoiding the Corporate “Snowden Effect”

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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

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