Tag Archives: Working Women

Working Women

Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant, deputy national editor at the New York Times interviewed more than 200 CEOs of top companies for his column, and distilled the leadership qualities that moved them to The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed :

  • Passionate curiosity, deep engagement with questioning mind and a balance of analytical and creative competencies
  • Confidence based on facing adversity, knowing capabilities
  • Collaboration, ability to “read” and shape team dynamics
  • Ability to translate complex to simple explanations
  • Fearlessness in acting on considered risks  The Corner Office

These five characteristics augment qualities that might be considered “table stakes” – or “must-haves” for any leadership candidate:

  • Preparation
  • Patience
  • Navigating organizational obstacles  
  • Building a team of diverse members by galvanizing with a clear mission and spending time with members

Bryant argues that these behavioral competencies may be developed through attentive effort, but he acknowledges that some people have greater natural predisposition and aptitude for these “ways of being.”

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel

Lois Frankel’s earlier book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers provided different recommendations for women seeking leadership roles, later empirically validated in research studies:

  • Act like a mature woman rather than a “girl”
  • Frame statements as assertions rather than questions
  • State and initiate a course of action, rather than waiting to request permissionNice Girls Dont Get The Corner

In contrast, Bryant particularly advises women to “meet as many people as possible and build relationships because serendipity and chance encounters can lead to unplanned opportunities.”

Research organizations like Catalyst and Center for Talent Innovation conduct social science research to investigate these behavioral and attitudinal recommendations.

CatalystBoth groups have questioned the applicability of mainstream recommendations in leadership development curricula when implemented by women, minorities and “people of color.”

Their continuing research agendas include analyzing the behavioral components of general recommendations such as “demonstrate gravitas” which the majority of top executives affirmed as “… critical for leadership. I can’t define it but I know if when I see it.”Center for Talent Innovation

These research organizations seek to more clearly define what these key executives see in critical leadership attributes like “gravitas” and to define them in replicable behavior terms.

-*Which leadership behaviors do you consider most important for any executive?
-*Which behavioral competencies are most crucial for aspiring women leaders?

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How Much Does Appearance Matter?

Orene Kearne

Orene Kearne started a lively discussion on LinkedIn closed group We Are Watermark,questioning the impact of Hillary Clinton’s appearance on her perceived competence in her role as US Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton

Numerous social science studies link perceived attractiveness with perceived competence and likeability including a meta-analysis by

Linda Jackson

Linda Jackson and team, published in Social Psychology Quarterly, which supported “status generalization” theory and “implicit personality” theory that physically attractive people are perceived as more intellectually competent

A more recent study found that women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly on dimensions of attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds.

However, when participants looked at the faces for a longer period of time, ratings for competence and attractiveness remained the same, but ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.
Volunteers were able to distinguish between judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness.

Nancy Etcoff

Nancy Etcoff led a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston University and Proctor & Gamble, and concluded that cosmetics could differentially affect automatic and deliberative judgments.

Attractiveness was related to positive judgments of competence, but a less systematic effect on perceived social warmth.

She distilled related findings into Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty.
and concluded that attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”

Although most people recognize the bias inherent in assumptions that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, this correlation is important in impression management in the workplace, as well as in the political arena.

-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?

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Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

-* How have you seen women’s Emotional Intelligence applied in the workplace?

Powerful Non-Verbal Behavior May Have More Impact Than a Good Argument

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld is a social psychologist and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who co-directs its Executive Program for Women Leaders.

Her research focuses on power and group behavior, and she notes that power can corrupt without conscious awareness.
She notes that power can disinhibit behavior by reducing concern for the social consequences of one’s actions, and by strengthening the link between personal wishes and acts that fulfill these desires.

Her recent work demonstrates that power leads to an action-orientation, limits the ability to take another’s perspective, and increases the tendency to view others as a “means to an end.”

This talk reviews her research and its practical implications, such as non-verbal behaviors that anyone can adopt to increase the impression of being a powerful individual.

-*How have you seen powerful non-verbal behavior trump the content of an argument?

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Organizational Hierarchies are Easier to Understand, Remember, Manage – Especially those Lead by Men…

Larissa Tiedens

Larissa Tiedens of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Emily Zitek of Cornell, assert that “we produce hierarchies to make our lives easier cognitively… (so we) like them more.”

They conducted a series of studies, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, to investigate organizational structure preferences and their impact on organizational performance. They suggest that organizational design should be determined by organizational objectives rather than allegiance to the ideal of “equality” in all situations.

Emily Zitek

Tiedens and Zitek demonstrated that there was a negative correlation between remembering and liking hierarchies; that is, people didn’t like what they couldn’t easily remember, and they liked what they could remember.

They observed that participants had difficulty understanding and learning symmetric organizational relationships, in which people could give orders to peers and receive orders from these same peers.

Their final experiment determined that participants more quickly memorized hierarchies in which men were at the top, and surmised that male hierarchies are more familiar and expected than other types of social structures.
As with the other experiments, the subjects were more likely to express a preference for the structure they learned the quickest.

Tiedens and Zitek conclude that people generally understand, learn, and like hierarchies more than egalitarian relationships because they are predictable and familiar.
If firms eliminate hierarchies, Tiedens suggests making explicit specific role because “people need a way of organizing information, including information about relationships among people. You need a way to enhance people’s ability to understand what the organization is and how individuals operate within it.”

-*Which organizational hierarchies do you find most memorable? Which are most attractive to you?

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Ways to Reduce Unemployment among African-American, Latino, Female Workforces

Lucy Sanders

Lucy Sanders

Lucy Sanders of National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) reports the organization’s research, underscoring the value of encouraging today’s students in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers:

• The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.9%, but for computing-related occupations it’s less than half of that (3.5%)

• The number of African Americans and Latinos employed in computing-related jobs should be double what it is today, given their proportional participation in the US workforce

• Across all STEM careers, tech jobs are growing fastest and have the second-highest starting salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, there will be nearly 1.4 million computing-related jobs added to the U.S. workforce.

With the existing pipeline of students, however, we’ll be able to fill only 30% of these jobs with computing graduates.

NCWIT offers the following tools:

Counselors for Computing (C4C) Pathway Cards help connect students’ interest with next steps toward IT and computing careers. C4C is a project of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance, made possible by the Merck Company Foundation and Google.

• A job-search tool at the NCWIT website, powered by Indeed.com, lets people search for computing-related jobs within NCWIT member organizations — including large companies, startups, universities, and non-profits all around the country.

Top 10 Ways Successful Technical Women Increase Their Visibility includes ten things that highly successful women say they do in order to increase their visibility throughout the company, industry, and technical community.

-* What “best practices” have you seen to increase professional employment among diverse employees?

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Power Tactics for Better Negotiation

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani points to research documenting women’s tendency to negotiate for salaries, promotions – and even task-sharing in relationships, less often than men in Pushback: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want

Her book offers guidelines to speak up assertively while developing the resilience and “thick skins” many in sales have mastered.

These recommendations echo those suggested in research studies and popular articles, and perhaps more Machiavellian, realistic, and perhaps disconcerting come from one of her endorsers, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer

He analyzes individual power dynamics in corporate hierarchies, and offers recommendations to acquire and use power in Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t 

Power-Jeffrey PfefferIn Rezvani’s book, Pfeffer notes that “Power is about 20% conferred and 80% taken.
Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who ask, negotiate, and push.
For women—or men—to get what they deserve, they must get over the platitudes and attitudes that hold them bac
k.”

Pfeffer debunks the hopeful idea that the world is fair and just,  and counsels those seeking to have the power to “get things done” to promote themselves, avoid giving up or delegating power, but instead,  give up the wish to be well-liked.

Because the work world is not fair, Pfeffer says that intelligence, performance, and likeability alone are not the most important factors in advancing in an organization.
Instead, he argues that ambition, energy, and focus drive key power behaviors:

  • Self-promotion and seeking organizational visibility
  • Building relationships, networking, and supporting the immediate manager
    Cultivating a reputation for control and authority by managing information and first impressions (halo effect, attention decrement, cognitive discounting, self-fulfilling prophecy, biased assimilation)
  • Embodying powerful demeanor in speech, dress, posture

Useful skills in acquiring power are:

  • Self-reflection and self-knowledge
  • Confidence and self-assurance
  • Ability to “read” others by empathically understanding their perspectives
  • Capacity to tolerate and remain calm in conflict

Although power is valuable to enable execution and results, there are downsides and “prices to pay” for having and using power.
Often, the costs of power are not fully considered or anticipated by those who aspire to it, so Pfeffer usefully suggests the following drawbacks of power:

  • Loss of privacy due to public scrutiny
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Necessary investment of time and effort that might be spent in other ways, such as with family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, pursuing non-work interests
  • Trust, confidentiality, conflict-of-interest, ethical dilemmas
  • Possible intoxication with power as an “addictive drug”
Kathleen Kelly Reardon

Kathleen Kelly Reardon

It's All PoliticsPfeffer’s Stanford University colleague, Kathleen Kelly Rearson shares specific examples of skillful, modulated application of power in her book, It’s all Politics.

-*How do you ask for what you want at work?

-*What power tactics do you employ to influence your negotiation outcomes?

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