Sometimes my clients start falling into a pattern, and it gives me an opportunity to look more deeply at common challenges we all face. Lately, too many of my clients have fallen into the “victim of office politics” trap. This looks different for each person, but in every case it feels like several people you work with are conspiring against you to undermine your credibility and impact.
As a victim of office politics, it’s very easy to start to feel powerless and to act powerlessly. It feels terrible and causes you to question who you are, whether you’re in the right career path and what your value is.
Even successful people fall into the office politics trap and begin to feel persecuted by both their colleagues and the Universe. Why?
I believe that these kinds of career experiences – painful as they are – actually come to us to help us learn lessons critical to our future success. Based on my own experience, and the experiences of my clients, I think the office politics quagmire gives us a special gift, which is to learn to stand up for our values and grapple with forces out of our control. After all “The Universe” – in which I dump our unconscious, fate, luck and everything else we can’t fathom or manipulate directly – is a key player in our success. Continue reading
There are so many ways to “lead” that sometimes we get confused trying to distinguish them all. At the end of the day, it may not matter as long as leadership happens. But what are you really good at? What kind of leadership can you become more intentional about? What kind of leadership can you become known for?
As the command-and-control model of leadership rapidly gives way to influential leadership styles, let’s look at two leadership models that are available to just about anyone at any level, change leadership and thought leadership. They are not the same, although together they can be powerful. Which can you adapt into your leadership style?
I believe that every leader should master the dynamics of change, because most of what we lead these days is changing at such a rapid pace. But mastering change means understanding both the technical and social complexities of what makes change desirable and manageable. Most of us are better at the technical stuff because we’re trained, we’re smart and the subject matter has more objective elements that can be measured and analyzed.
The social, subjective, human stuff is more challenging by definition, so it’s where we need to spend more of our developmental energy. The principles of change mastery are relatively simple, understanding human motivation and group dynamics, but mastering them is a personal journey. Mastering change leadership requires us to be intentional about how we are personally motivated, how we interact with others and how we can get our own hang-ups out of the way of the change we’re trying to lead.
Want to be a change leader? Master the human dynamic, starting with yourself.
The title “thought leader” is often reserved for those rarified authors, researchers and industry titans who blow our minds with new ideas. Think of Mark Benioff who in less than two short decades has redefined the software industry with his tireless championing (and brilliant execution of) of what is now known as cloud computing.
In fact, thought leadership is accessible to everyone at every level in an organization and it’s a key strategy in becoming an influential leader. 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
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
This week I’d like to introduce you to a dynamic woman, business owner and believer in making yourself and the world better at the same time, Amy Barnes is the owner and founder of The Barre Code exercise studio in Alexandria, VA. She has a great story to tell about how to follow your passion to achieve success, satisfaction and to do good in the world.
Q: Why did you decide to go into business for yourself and why did you think you’d be successful?
I went into business for myself because I am driven, ambitious and passionate about the work I do. I am a teacher at heart, and therefore I naturally have a need to share my passion, to mentor others, and to prove that a person can achieve anything when they put their mind to it. It is key to balance feeling good on the inside while achieving results on the outside.
I thought my business would be successful because I believe in setting my mind to a goal and achieving it. In fact, I spent almost a decade as a lead teacher, trainer, and choreographer where I helped several studios to become extremely successful. However, it was always a dream of mine to start my own studio. This dream became a reality when I met my husband, Matthew Morgan, two years ago. He once told me, “you have to go for your dream and we will make it happen.” He not only inspired me as a teacher but also gave me the means to be the entrepreneur I am today. It has been almost one year since I launched my own business as the Founder and Owner of The Barre Code in Alexandria, Va. Continue reading
It takes a lot of guts to be an entrepreneur and it takes even more guts to be a single mom entrepreneur. That’s why Mary Ellen Slayter, Founder of Reputation Capital Media Services, is one of my personal heroines. She’s running a successful business that’s growing quickly, helping corporations turn the online publishing paradigm into brand credibility. What is the secret to success?” In our 12 minute podcast, she reveals one of the early lessons she learned crying in the bathroom at a public boarding school in Louisiana at 15 years old: “Being brave is not about not being scared, it’s about being scared and doing it anyway.” She’s also learned to “be comfortable with her own incompetence.” Continue reading
I have great respect for the ways that Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Marissa Mayer are doing what they think is right and completely ignoring all the chatter about them on the web. They are doing what any man would do – running companies and professoring – and sparking a national debate on the issues of work-life, family and leadership.
They’re doing a great job, which is more than I can say for most of the rest of us. Continue reading
The same week Yahoo! rescinded teleworking policies for its employees, Best Buy did the same. Many pointed to the fact that Yahoo!’s working mom CEO got flack when Best Buy’s working dad CEO didn’t as unfair for gender inequity reasons. While I suspect that unfortunately Marissa Mayer was a better criticism target because she’s a woman/mom, I also think Yahoo! was a better target than Best Buy for pure branding reasons. Yahoo! builds exactly the kind of products designed to help work-at-home employees. On its face, then, Yahoo!’s rejection of such practices for its own employees looks like a brand misalignment. I mentioned this in a previous article and it generated a Twitter conversation that I thought deserved more than 140 characters. Continue reading
“Networking” is a word I often see accompanied by a slump of the shoulders, a groan or a roll of the eyes – in both women and men. We know it’s critical to our business and career success, but so often when we think “networking” we think stiff smiles, exposing ourselves to rejection from strangers and time wasted when we could be vegging after a hard days’ work. Because like it or not, when you engage in it intentionally – as an investment in your career, your business and your efforts to change the world – it is work.
However, work doesn’t have to be hard. Continue reading
We all know we’re living in interesting times as technology boils under the sea change in our economy, but it’s rare that we can see it very clearly. As a business person, it’s important to see such future trends clearly and this presentation by Mary Meeker, Wall Street analyst turned Kleiner Perkins Venture Capitalist, gives us an unusually insightful look into our past, present and future.
I’m not going to try to summarize her awesome assessment of what technology is doing to our society. This is one of the few 88 slide presentations I really believe is worth viewing from beginning to end (yes, really, and I have the attention span of a gnat so I don’t say this lightly). There are so many awesome trends she spots here, but I will summarize the ones that struck me personally as important and interesting (sing with me: It’s my blog and I can pick what I want to….)
Really, though, take 10 minutes and go through this presentation.