Gender Equality | Workplace Equality | Difficult Conversations

How To Bravely Challenge Workplace Inequality

Recently, one of our Weekly Bold Moves on workplace inequality generated lots of comments and feedback, so much so that I’ve decided to explore in more detail how to handle those difficult discussions with co-workers on this topic.

The Insightful Question on Workplace Equality Was…

Here’s the Bold Move that’s been generating all the buzz:

Do you walk the walk – or just talk the talk? Virtually anyone can say “I’m committed to equality in the workplace” – but words are nothing without action. Are you willing to speak up, stand out, and go against the grain when the right situation presents itself?

This prompted one insightful reader to ask me for examples of how to “tactfully” address the issue of workplace gender equality in a more positive, productive way—with a focus on supporting working moms who are blamed for using non-traditional hours to balance work and family.

Walking The Talk When it Comes to Equality in the Workplace

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this issue, I do have some tips on what you can say and do when you encounter difficult situations to foster a more supportive environment for women and others in the workplace.

  • Be a role model of peace and acceptance. Work on centering yourself around who you are, what values are important to you – and why. As you become more willing to live in alignment with your authentic self, others may be more open and receptive to you. Likewise, a deeper understanding of yourself may help you to better understand others.
  • Use a low-key tone. How often has the wrong tone of voice shut down your listening to what someone says? Whenever possible, keep your tone soft and inviting – not sharp, aggressive, or loud. This is really important if you tend to get “overly enthusiastic” about a topic. And whether you’re listening or speaking, never underestimate the power of body language.
  • Gently challenge assumptions. This one can be a little scary. If you’re comfortable with it, try to help people see that they’re making assumptions that might not be true because they don’t know the whole situation. It’s a brave way to “walk the talk.” You might start the conversation with something like, “I can see how given your experience you might feel that way. I’m just wondering if you might be open to looking at this from a different perspective…”
  • Think dialogue, not Create an open-ended conversation where you’re listening as well as talking. By understanding the other person’s viewpoint, you can help them to start considering yours. Doesn’t everyone appreciate being heard? If you often find yourself saying things like “I can’t believe I said that” or “I wish I would have approached her differently,” try gently practicing self-awareness in your interactions to respond more effectively.
  • Develop conversation starters. What you say will depend on your specific workplace relationship with the person you want to influence, but here are some examples to build on.

 

    • From a place of centeredness and peace, you could calmly say something like: If we truly are serious about diversity in the workplace/flexible hours, then we also need to honor X’s right to have flexible hours, which for her might mean taking time out to enjoy her daughter’s soccer game or being able to hold and bond with her baby. Or,

     

    • If other people taking time off is getting under your skin, maybe you need a little time for yourself, too? All of us benefit from that at least once in a while. [This one is to be used with caution – it’s mostly to help shed light on why people can sometimes be judgmental.]

     

    • Transparency can be key: Instead of jumping at the other person to prove your point or show them how “wrong” they are, consider sharing some of your own vulnerabilities. If it seems appropriate, you might start with something like, “I remember a time when I felt that way too…” then lead into how your own beliefs have since changed.

The Rewards of Courage

Ellyn Shook, the chief human resources officer of Accenture, is one female leader who is leading the charge for “courageous conversations” about gender inequality and sexism in the workplace.

As a recent Catalyst publication points out, having these courageous conversations will “keep the issue on the front burner and educate those around us.” Leaders in particular should continue to challenge the status-quo of workplace gender issues to move it forward, setting an example for others to follow.

Changes in this area won’t happen overnight, but by bravely speaking out we can begin with shifting perceptions—one person at a time. Today, I encourage you to look for opportunities right within your own workplace (and rest assured, they are there!) where you might transform an unproductive conversation into one that fosters deeper understanding and more positive growth for all.

Looking for ways to be a courageous leader who speaks up when necessary to foster workplace equality? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Transformational leadership | Transformational leader | Leadership

Are You Simply A Leader – Or Are You A Transformational Leader?

Are you satisfied with the leadership style you currently practice? Does being a leader come easily to you – or do you feel you have to work at it more than others? Whatever your answer, here’s some good news: there’s a way for every leader—at every level—to achieve greater levels of success for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

How? With transformational leadership.

Let’s start by taking in a little background on transformational leadership. Then, I’ll walk you through the traits you can employ to become a successful transformational leader.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

This technique was first put forward by James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer turned leadership expert. Burns stated that transformational leadership happens when leaders and followers help each other reach higher levels of motivation and success.

Burns’ ideas were later expanded by researcher Bernard M. Bass, who stated that effective transformational leaders earn respect, admiration, and trust from the people they lead.

Transformational leaders aren’t just business smart. They have a passion for their work and the ability to transfer that passion to the people they lead. They’re focused on helping every member of their group succeed and can inspire positive changes in those who follow them.

Although this sounds like a tall order, it’s really quite easy once you understand the basic principles.

The Four Basic Leadership Principles

Bass outlined four basic components of this leadership style, and they help bring home just how effective it can be. If you’re not already, consider how you might incorporate these components into the way you lead…and how you may use these to inspire those around you.

  • Intellectual Stimulation– Transformational leadership means encouraging those you lead to be creative, challenge the status quo, and discover new learning opportunities. This is the opposite of the more “technical” leadership style that dominated the late 20th
  • Individualized Consideration– This style means offering one-on-one support and encouragement to followers. It requires open communication styles so all feel free to share ideas, and intends for leaders to recognize each person’s unique contribution to the group’s success.
  • Inspirational Motivation– Leaders are able to create a clear vision of success, communicate it to their groups, and generate the passion and motivation needed to achieve goals.
  • Idealized Influence– In all cases, transformational leaders are role models for those they lead. Because of their trust and respect for their leader, groups will model and internalize that person’s ideals.

How To Be A Transformational Leader

Building on the ideas above, there are five ways that transformational leaders set themselves apart and drive success for everyone they lead. How many of these do you routinely practice?

  1. Practice Personal Accountability – Research says this is the biggest element for success. Transformational leaders can ask themselves what they need to do better or can recognize what is or isn’t working well. They don’t place blame on external circumstances and don’t wait for those circumstances to change to move forward. Does this ring true in your leadership practices?
  2. Connect With Your Values, Strengths, and Purpose – Write down your values and spend a few minutes each morning deciding how you will bring your full, authentic self to your workplace. Knowing your sense of purpose makes you more confident and flexible when facing stress, changes, and challenges. Who doesn’t want that?
  3. Be Willing To Try New Behaviors And Actions – When old behaviors aren’t working, transformational leaders are willing to try something new, to be more flexible in different situations. Try asking yourself, “Who’s the best self I can be in this particular situation?” and then decide on your actions. How might this kind of agility help you succeed, both in your professional and personal life?
  4. Exercise Curiosity Versus Judgement – We’re hard wired to take the shortest path to our goal, but this also means we can lead “by habit,” making unconscious judgements or assumptions without even realizing it. A good reflective question is “How can I look at this situation differently so we can all achieve ultimate success?” or “What assumptions am I making that I could see differently?”
  5. Find Opportunity In Change – Rather than wasting energy fighting change (in project scope, resources, etc.), transformational leaders ask themselves what’s good about the situation or what can be learned from it. Look for ways to develop something new from the change. It’s not always easy, but it can reap big rewards. How could you apply this right now in your leadership role?

According to Burns, transformational leadership simply tries to answer the essential questions: What is the ultimate goal of leadership and why should someone become a leader?

It’s a very different technique than “My way or the highway.” And it reaps better rewards for everyone it touches. How would practicing transformational leadership make a difference in your organization?

Looking for ways to be a transformational leader who can inspire everyone in your organization to reach higher levels of success? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

 

About Colleen

Colleen Slaughter - International Leadership CoachColleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!

Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.

Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.

If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.
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Workplace culture | Corporate culture in the workplace | Inclusion in the workplace

Leaders, Inclusiveness Improves Corporate Culture

“Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a great long-term brand, or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own.”
– Tony Hsieh CEO, Zappos

Recent news headlines have given us much to think about when it comes to what’s accepted within an organization’s culture. It begs the question: What would it be like if all workplace cultures were built on mutual respect and openness? And how do we make that happen?

Let’s start by understanding the importance of culture in business and then consider how leaders can be the catalysts for positive change in their specific organizations.

Culture: The “Immune System” Of The Workplace

There are myriads of ways that workplace culture impacts an organization’s short- and long-term success. In a recent article on Time.com, Arianna Huffington referred to corporate culture as a company’s “immune system.”

When a workplace culture is healthy, it values and celebrates each person’s contributions, so current employees want to stay and potential employees are eager to come on board. Conversely, an unhealthy culture will damage a company’s reputation and make employees more prone to the “illnesses” of human nature.

The more fit and strong the culture at your organization, the more easily employees can recognize the onset of these issues and take steps to remedy them.

What Makes A Healthy Workplace Culture?

Rather than focus on negatives, here are a few of the positive aspects that define a fit and thriving corporate culture. If they don’t necessarily describe your company right now, consider how you might incorporate them going forward, starting with your teams.

  • Diversity – Do you find yourself (or those within your organization) saying, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”? No more! This is essential if you want to foster well-being and improve performance. Diversity enables new thoughts, ideas, and possibilities to emerge so that you’re continually thinking, looking, and moving forward.
  • Transparency – In a culture of openness, you can spot issues and correct them before they create a crisis. Transparency makes it safe for people to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and use those lessons to benefit the organization. Be honest – could your organization benefit from greater levels of transparency?
  • A Larger Purpose – Millennials, in particular, thrive in a culture where principles are as important as profits. But doesn’t everyone want to feel they’re part of something beneficial -not only for customers but for the world as a whole? Where does your organization stand on this?

Your Role As A Leader: Build Inclusiveness

If a healthy corporate culture could be summed up in one word, it’s “inclusiveness.” An Inc.com article states that inclusive workplace cultures are healthier, more productive, and make team members feel more valued.

However, leaders can’t always gauge their efforts at inclusiveness, according to a ten-year study by leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. So here are some key benchmarks to help you be a more inclusive leader and create a healthier corporate culture:

  1. Try to ignore your ego. – It’s human nature to think of ourselves first, but our role as leaders is to keep the focus on success for our team and for our organization as a whole. When you make this shift toward intellectual humility, you almost automatically create inclusiveness.
  2. Remember the value of listening. – As a leader, there’s a time to talk. But often, the way to reach the best ideas and solutions is to listen, and you create inclusiveness when you do. This doesn’t mean you have to use every suggestion, but you should always be willing to at least hear them.
  3. Encourage collaboration on your teams. – When your team members contribute to a project or solve an issue, they gain a great sense of motivation and accomplishment. Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” And empowerment often starts with collaboration.

Every person deserves to work in a culture where they are valued, supported, empowered, and encouraged to be all they can be. As leaders, we play a major role in creating this safe and nurturing environment not only for the benefit of our employees but for the success of our companies in the long term. Are you ready for the challenge?

Looking for ways to be a bold leader who is a catalyst for creating a healthier, more inclusive culture within your organization? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

Equality in the Workplace ,The Pay Gap Still Exists

Leaders, How Committed Are You to Equality in the Workplace?

When it comes to leadership topics, one of the perennial “hot buttons” remains equality in the workplace. A while back I wrote about the challenges women face in acquiring leadership positions, and I was again inspired to revisit this subject after reading some newly published data by Glassdoor, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey focusing on the topic of pay inequality.

I’ll cover briefly the “facts” – then encourage you to ask deep questions to find out how you may be contributing to inequality in the workplace.

How Gender Pay Equality Looks Today

Glassdoor is one of the few surveys that focuses solely on the issue of the gender pay gap, with data based on 505,000 salaries shared with them by full-time U.S. workers. It’s worth reading the entire survey, but here are a few important takeaways on the pay gap:

  • Based on raw data, base pay for men in the U.S. is about 24% higher than for women. However, adjusting the data based on factors like age, education, experience, job title, employer, and location brings the gap down to about 5.4%. Even still, an obvious gap exists.
  • The occupation with the highest gender pay gap? Computer programmer. C-Suite occupations also ranked highly, and other occupations with a high gender pay gap include chef, dentist, psychologist and pharmacist.
  • Although male-female pay differences have significantly lessened since the 1960’s, the closure has begun to stagnate. For an excellent visual representation of the gender pay gap, check out Org’s data on equal pay here.

Though the survey above had a focus on U.S. workers, a Harvard University piece on equal pay aptly states, “Such inequality is hardly unique to the United States.”

What Causes the Gender Pay Gap?Equality in the Workplace ,The Pay Gap Still Exists

While the causes of the gender pay gap have long been debated, most would agree that there is no single culprit. Just some of the potential reasons include:

  • Conflicting views on diversity: A McKinsey report found that 90% of companies surveyed believed making gender diversity a priority leads to improved business outcomes – but just 37% of employees agreed.
  • Gaps in commitment: Saying gender equality matters – and then being willing to address it – are very different. The largest gap was seen in young women (most committed) and young men (least committed).
  • Same questions, different results: Women may be asking for promotions and raises like their male counterparts, but the study found that men often achieve more without even asking and face less backlash when doing so.

Instead of debating what causes inequality in the workplace, we’d prefer to focus on what can be done about it.

Equality in the Workplace: Ask the Right Questions

A deeper exploration of pay inequality seems necessary. Many of us really believe that we’re being “fair” – and hardly notice how  surprisingly easy it is to find oneself subtly buying into a system without realizing it and then not having the courage to do something about it or to bring about change at a deeper level.

Google is teeming with resources related to “gender inequality” or “how to fix gender inequality in the workplace.” Change starts from within. If we want to correct gender inequality, we need to ask some tough questions:

  1. What are my biases? Biases – particularly unconscious ones – can be sneaky, sabotaging you and causing unintended consequences to others when you least expect it. If as you read this you’re saying “I don’t have any biases,” I encourage you to take a more honest look within. Start with mindful awareness; pay attention to your subtle reactions throughout the day. You may be surprised – in more ways than one.
  2. How far am I willing to go to address inequality? Truth be told, few of us would say that the issue of inequality doesn’t matter – but simply making a statement isn’t the same as taking concrete action. For instance, how proactive is your organization when it comes to hiring women? Are you limiting your talent pool? Have you taken a look at your interview process lately? Look for hidden factors that might be leading to inequality.
  3. Do I really value a work/life balance? Many of us have heard that phrase so often that we’ve become indifferent to it. Yet, Mary Brinton of Harvard University asserts that as young adults attempt to balance work and life responsibilities, women often face additional burdens associated with caregiving. This leads to a disadvantage in the workplace, where many organizations have become accustomed to nearly 24/7 availability.

As we all work together to understand and ultimately address gender inequality in the workplace and beyond, let us remember the words of the great Socrates, “He who aspires to govern the city must learn to govern himself.

Looking for ways to be a bold leader that others turn to for mentoring and positive change within your organization? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Colleen

Colleen Slaughter - International Leadership CoachColleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!

Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.

Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.

If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.
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Why it makes sense to trust your gut | Authentic leaders trust their gut instincts | Follow your instincts

Leaders, Do You Trust Your Gut?

In our information-based world, many leaders have learned to make decisions based on whatever solid data can be gathered regarding a particular situation. But neuroscience has proven that there’s another important factor you should employ in leadership decision-making: trusting your gut.

Authentic Leaders Address Emotional Needs

Working effectively with people isn’t about how fast or how well your brain can process information, says the Forbes article The Neuroscience At The Heart Of Learning And Leading. As humans, we want and need to connect with each other on a deeper level—which takes empathy and imagination rather than just data.

More and more studies show that people perform better when their emotional needs are met. Leaders with good emotional intelligence and strong insights about their team members are better equipped to handle this.

Authentic leaders know themselves. They don’t depend solely on the “hard facts” – instead, they rely on their inner instincts and aren’t afraid to trust themselves, even if that means going against the grain when a situation dictates.

Why It Makes Sense to Follow Your Instincts

Human behavioral science believes that your gut collects and holds all your experiences and learning since you were born. When you trust your gut, you draw on this wealth of valuable information that can help you make better decisions, often more quickly and without having to process myriads of information.

Research has shown that when you combine this gut instinct with a thorough review of data, it can improve your decision-making in big, bold ways.

The leadership transformation coaches at Authentic Leadership International (www.boldermoves.com), can show you leadership approaches that use the right mix of facts, bold insight, and emotional intelligence to create a successful and empowered team.

Leaders, Try These Tips to Trust Your Gut

From FastCompany.com, here are some easy strategies you can use to trust your gut when making leadership decisions:

  • Take time to reflect. Avoid the temptation to make a snap decision and instead tell team members you need time to “sleep on it.”
  • If you tend to overanalyze, set a time limit for your decision and go to your gut at the end of that time period to see what your instincts tell you. Also be mindful of how you’re feeling, as that’s another way to access your gut intelligence.
  • Make a list of all your gut decisions and their outcomes. You’ll start to equate how you felt on a “gut level” with the results of your choice. Over time, you’ll be able to recognize when your instincts are giving you the thumbs up (or thumbs down) on a situation.

Bonus BOLD Tip: If it’s been a challenge for you to get in touch with your inner instincts, try meditation. Regularly participating in this powerful practice offers benefits that can not only help you deepen your capacity as a leader, but also give you fresh perspectives in your personal and professional lives.

Adding gut instincts to your decision-making tool box as a leader can help you and your team achieve impressive and on-going success.

Looking for new and bolder ways to manage your teams, including how to add an instinctive approach to your decision making process and leadership skillset? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.

 

 

 

About Colleen

Colleen Slaughter - International Leadership CoachColleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!

Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.

Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.

If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.
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