Tag Archives: Working Women

Working Women

How Much Does Appearance Matter?

Linda A. Jackson

Perceived attractiveness was correlated with perceived competence and likeability in a meta-analysis by Michigan State University’s Linda A. Jackson, John E. Hunter, and Carole N. Hodge.
Physically attractive people were seen as more intellectually competent.

Nancy Etcoff

Similarly, women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly on attractiveness, competence, likeability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds in research by Harvard’s Nancy L. Etcoff, Lauren E. Haley, and David M. House, with Shannon Stock of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Proctor & Gamble’s Sarah A. Vickery.

Models without makeup, with natural, professional, “glamorous” makeup

However, when participants looked at the faces for a longer time, ratings for competence and attractiveness remained the same, but ratings for likeability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.

Etcoff’s team concluded that cosmetics could influence automatic judgments because attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”

Most people recognize the bias in assuming that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, yet impression management remains crucial in the workplace and in the political arena.

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

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©Kathryn Welds



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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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?

©Kathryn Welds

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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©Kathryn Welds

Women Get More Promotions With “Behavioral Flexibility”

More business promotions were awarded to women who display assertive, confident, and “aggressive” behaviors and who reduce these characteristics depending on the social circumstance through “self-monitoring”, according to Olivia Mandy O’Neill of George Mason University and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Olivia Mandy O’Neill

Charles O’Reil

Related research findings discuss “impression management” and “self-monitoring” skills for women to mitigate the impact of subtle factors that impede career advancement.


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