Female Leadership Challenges In Today’s Business Arena

Women continue to make strides in the workplace around equitable pay and leadership positions compared to their male counterparts, but there is still a long way to go.

According to the Washington Post, “The number of female CEOs of America’s most influential companies is stuck at 5 percent, as it was the year before. While women make up 45 percent of the labor force of the S&P 500, few are climbing to the very top.”

One factor that can keep women out of key upper management roles is the lack of an effective leadership style, and women face many difficulties in learning how to be an effective manager.

Female Leadership Challenges

There are certain female stereotypes that interfere with women learning to be good leaders and which present difficulties that their male counterparts will never experience. A recent Wall Street Journal piece describes it very well.

“Leadership experts say women must navigate a ‘double-bind:’ If they assert themselves forcefully, people may perceive them as not acting feminine enough, triggering a backlash. But if they act in a stereotypically feminine way, they aren’t seen as strong leaders.”

Additionally, says WSJ, the lack of women in leadership roles means a lack of role models for young women to emulate in developing a uniquely female leadership style. “Women can watch male leaders too, of course, but men can’t illustrate how to navigate female stereotypes.”

Steps To Move Forward

Here are some ways that female managers at any level can develop and strengthen their leadership abilities.

  • Seek Out A Female Role Model – As stated above, this may be easier said than done. If there’s isn’t a competent female manager in your company, look to the outside. You might find someone in a professional or community group. Authentic Leadership International (boldermoves.com) can help you make these connections and offer continuing advice on leadership development.
  • Find A Female Mentor – As stated above, you may need to go outside your company to find this. The site Business Dictionary advises, “Observe your mentor’s behavior closely, especially how she reacts in stressful or difficult situations. It is important to develop your own leadership style, but utilizing what you learn from a successful manager to mold your own behavior can be a good starting point.”
  • Get Yourself Noticed – Women need to take charge of their office image, states WSJ. “They shouldn’t be content simply that their name is on an important report. Instead, they should actively engage colleagues and superiors, and talk frequently about their ideas and research.”
  • Develop Your Skills – According to Business Directory, “As you become known for the quality of your work and for your achievements, your team and peers will start accepting you as a strong leader.”

As you grow and develop your leadership skills, remember to be patient with yourself and with those around you. You’re not only moving yourself forward; you’re also advancing the truth that women can be effective leaders in any organization and any business arena.

Looking for a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free and with no strings attached.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages 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.
[/zilla_alert]

 

An Employee-Focused Business Actually Improves Profitability

When you think about it, there’s sort of a catch 22 in running a successful business: you need employees to take care of customers and you need customers to generate the revenue to hire and retain employees.

Customers have generally come first in this on-going loop, but there’s growing evidence that focusing on your employees over your customers can actually generate much bigger gains for your business in the long run.

Why You Should Be Employee-Focused

The site CultureUniversity.com recently posted an article titled, “Focus on Employees and Their Happiness, and Customer Success Will Follow,” which presents very sound reasons for focusing on employee satisfaction.

Author Nic Marks states that a “lack of attention on employees almost certainly undermines the business goal of creating happy customer experiences; because how can employees be expected to care about customers’ experience when they don’t feel the business cares about theirs?”

“Ignore the employees’ experience,” says Marks, “and you will undermine the customers’ experience.”

If putting employees before customers feels a bit counter-intuitive to you, you’re not alone. Yet research is consistently proving the effectiveness of this strategy.

“It’s well known that employees’ attitudes toward the organization have a significant effect on how they approach their jobs and how they treat customers,” according to the MIT Sloan Management Review site. “But recent research also suggests that high levels of employee engagement are associated with higher rates of profitability growth.”

Marks sums it up this way: “By focusing on employee experience, forward thinking companies can start to reap a huge happiness dividend that will benefit not only the employees and customers but also the business itself as it becomes more profitable.”

How To Begin Making The Shift

There are any number of options to create an employee-focused culture in an organization.

In Pat Lynch, Ph.D.’s article published on the BusinessPerformance.com website, “Ten Ways to Create an Employee-Centered Workplace,” he stresses that making this change must be a deliberate choice on the part of business managers:

“Unfortunately, this scenario does not occur naturally. Rather, management must make a conscious decision to create an environment in which everyone and everything is aligned with employees’ success.”

Lynch also reminds readers that these are not “one-time fixes” but are truly a new way of consistently interacting with employees now and in the future. “Short-term ‘solutions’ for long-term issues are seldom effective, and workers can tell the difference.”

As the MIT Sloan Management site puts it, “Companies with great cultures are rewarded with loyal enthusiastic employees who are more productive, more creative and will help you in your talent attraction. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that happy, engaged employees will naturally create great interactions with customers.”

It’s those great interactions that bring old customers back again and again and pull new customers toward a place that offers a great buying experience.

If your company is struggling with profitability and building a satisfied customer base, I challenge you to begin building an employee-focused culture and see what happens. And if your company is doing well, I offer the same challenge to see how much more success you can create by focusing first on the happiness and success of your employees.

Looking for a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free and with no strings attached.

 

 

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.
[/zilla_alert]

No Pain No Gain: The Keys To Effective Employee Feedback

Most people find it difficult to tell someone what they really think, particularly in a work setting. However, developing the skill (and some would say bravery) to offer and receive constructive feedback can be critical to a company’s overall growth and success.

How can employees make the right changes—or any changes at all—if they’re never told they’re acting in ways that don’t benefit the organization?

Why Reluctance Rules

In many cases, people don’t want to deliver negative feedback for fear of “rocking the boat.” This can be true even in organizations where the boat is already rocking, filled with water, and about to sink.

It’s also true in organizations where niceness and positivity are ingrained in the culture because the leaders, in particular, want to be seen as supportive and caring. A recent Harvard Business Review article by operations executive and team coach Jennifer Porter outlined the challenges of giving feedback in this kind of culture, but some of these are probably true regardless of the organization.

  • No one wants to hurt another person with negative feedback, particularly in situations where everyone is perceived as nice.
  • Learning how to give feedback takes practice and, as with all learning, “is inherently messy,” says the article. “We are all unskillful when we try something new. And this messiness and poor initial skill can easily be interpreted as unpoised, disrespectful, or unprofessional — all of which are unacceptable in a ‘nice’ culture.”
  • People at the top of the organization aren’t open with each other so there’s no-one to model good feedback behavior for employees down the chain.
  • Employees like their positive culture and “are typically reluctant to try anything that may jeopardize it,” says HBR.

How To Get Better

Learning how to effectively give constructive feedback takes work, says Porter. Below is a summary of her steps for leaders in any organizational culture to develop this skill.

  • Be thoughtful and caring. The goal here is to help someone improve, and they will only do that when they feel “safe,” meaning heard and respected.
  • Commit to being on a journey of learning.  “Commit to being better at candor and feedback and share a plan to get there. Tell your team about your commitment and ask for their help,” states Porter. “By starting with yourself, you’ll be modeling good behavior and demonstrating your commitment to the shift in culture.”
  • Request and accept feedback. Be courageous in asking for input and be willing to listen openly to whatever someone tells you. Porter’s advice is, “No matter what you hear, do not resist, explain, defend, or push back. You can process it all later and decide what you want to act on, but in the moment just take it all in. And say thank you.”
  • Accept that you’ll be uncomfortable. “Like learning any new skill, getting better at candor and feedback will be uncomfortable and you will do it unskillfully at the start. Your discomfort and mistakes mean you’re on the right path.”
  • See your mistakes as learnings. According to Porter, this sends a powerful message to your organization: “leaders make mistakes when they are learning something new, and they say they are sorry.”
  • Learn when feedback is not the right choice. Take time to discern whether you’re giving feedback because it’s needed or because your emotions are driving you. You want to support, not rant and place blame.
  • Be open to constant development. Learn from both what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing so well, says Porter. “Analyze what is working and what is not, then create strategies to improve.”

See It In Action

Another Harvard Business Review article shows how candid, on-going feedback has helped criminals, drug addicts, and homeless people not only start their own company but turn it into a thriving business.

In How to Make Feedback Feel Normal, Joseph Grenny, keynote speaker and leading social scientist for business performance, reviews a program called The Other Side Academy (TOSA). Most students attend TOSA versus going to jail. They learn new ways of living through running small businesses, and a group of them are running a multi-million-dollar business called The Other Side Movers.

According to Grenny, the company’s success comes from the fact that feedback is peer driven and a normal part of every work day. “A core value at The Other Side Movers is ‘200% Accountability.’ Meaning every employee is expected to be 100% accountable for the quality of their own work, AND 100% accountable for the quality of the work of everyone else they see. The quickest way to get in trouble at The Other Side Movers is not to fail on #1, but on #2.”

Consider adapting some of TOSA’s feedback methods into your organization where it makes sense. I am also here as a resource and a guide.

Effective and continuous feedback is proving to be a gateway to success for all types of companies. How will you make it part of yours?

 

Looking for a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free and with no strings attached.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles 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.
[/zilla_alert]

You Can Do It: Key Tips For Reinventing Yourself And Starting Over

As one year ends and another begins, it’s traditionally a time to focus on new beginnings. But the truth is that you can work on reinventing yourself at any time and should consider it when life is not all that you want it to be.

Make Good Choices

Recently a Forbes.com article reviewed a book by investment manager Gary Spier titled “The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment,” which discusses Spier’s reinvention of himself after he left an ethically-challenged Wall Street investment firm.

The article discusses Spier’s thoughts about recreating yourself when you’re unhappy with where you are or where you’ve been in your career and want to start again.

  • Model The Right People – Find the people who are successfully doing what you want to do and learn from them, says Spier. Buy their books or meet with them directly if possible. They don’t have to be famous, they just have to be good at their work and accessible in some way.
  • Be True To Your Principles – For Spier, this was being honest and decent as a businessman, which he didn’t really figure out until he left his old company. Sometimes we get blinded to what’s important because we feel we have to stay where we are. But you always have a choice.

Be Willing To Work At It

Although we’d like to be able to change overnight, beginning again takes work and commitment. According to the article “Reinvent Yourself” on the Psychology Today website, we can start by focusing on our future selves.

“To make the best decisions for your future self, you need to stop imagining that person as a stranger and instead see that it’s you,” says the article. “Caring more about our future selves can also help us counter the tendency to discount future rewards, which makes so many of us embrace immediate gratification instead of long-term payoffs.”

Other positive steps include setting long-term goals, being realistic in what we hope to achieve, having a contingency plan for setbacks (which WILL happen), and celebrating every success big or small.

My Reinvention Story

I love numerology, and it revealed that this was a particularly good time for my own reinvention: I recently ended a long-time business partnership and also moved with my family permanently from the U.S. to France.

The numbers weren’t the main reason for my new start, but they played a part in the timing of it. The year 2016 is a “9” year (2+0+1+6 = 9). In a nine year, we need to end relationships which aren’t working, clean out clutter, stop destructive habits/ways of life. 2017 is a 0 year (2+0=1+7 = 0), and these years are all about starting again.

Whatever your motivation, here’s to successful new beginnings for all of us—in 2017 and beyond!

 

Looking for a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free!

 

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 women 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.
[/zilla_alert]

To Be Fully Human, Strive For Meaning Over Happiness

If you look around at today’s culture, you get a pretty strong message about happiness. Mainly, that everyone should have it or be striving for it. And while happiness is an important factor in our overall well-being, research is revealing another key player: meaning.

Lessons From The Holocaust

This research isn’t new. It began with the eminent psychologist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl in 1945. Business Insider reprinted an article from The Atlantic that offered Frankl’s insights into the value of meaning in life.

In 1946, Frankl published his book Man’s Search For Meaning in which he shared his experiences as therapist in the concentration camp. Frankl concluded that the difference between those who survived and those who didn’t came down to finding a meaning for living—even is those horrendous circumstances.

Frankl himself believed that counseling other inmates created meaning in his life and that this is what allowed him to survive until he was liberated. He wasn’t happy, but he had a reason to live each day.

Understanding the Differences

A recent article in Scientific American discussed the differences that many of today’s studies are showing between happiness and meaningfulness.

“It seems that happiness has more to do with having your needs satisfied, getting what you want, and feeling good, whereas meaning is more related to uniquely human activities such as developing a personal identity, expressing the self, and consciously integrating one’s past, present, and future experiences,” says the article.

Writing in Psychology Today, social psychologist Bella DePaulo shares specific life circumstances that test subjects said made for a meaningful but not happy life and vice versa. For example, feeling that life is easy made for a happy but less meaningful life; stress, challenges, and sacrificing for others created meaning but not necessarily happiness.

What It Means For Our Own Lives

The thing to remember, say psychologists, is that both happiness and meaningfulness are important to our overall quality of life. However, striving for meaning is what makes us truly human.

As Victor Frankl states, “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

If you believe you have everything you want but somehow don’t feel fully happy, it may be time to start a quest for meaning.

Looking for a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free!

 

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 women 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.
[/zilla_alert]