Category Archives: Uncategorized

Women Play Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

In my coaching practice, I run across a number of female professionals who are frustrated with their career progression. They feel like they’ve been committed to the company, working endless hours and doing what it takes to get the job done and then some.  A big part of the problem is, they feel like they’re trying to push through this journey on their own.

In fact, it’s not just a feeling. Studies on the progress of professional women show this to be true for so many. A recent study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company on Women in the Workplace* was conducted among 34,000 employees, and 132 companies which employ more than 4.6 million people. This study concluded that:  “Women get less access to the people and opportunities that advance careers and are disadvantaged in many of their daily interactions.”

Leadership Pipeline Narrows for Women

The study found that, and I quote, “Women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and are less likely to be hired into more senior positions. Women also get less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate careers. As a result, the higher you look in companies, the fewer women you see.”*

The data is evident. The stories are sobering.

* LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company 2016 Women in the Workplace Report

Women Often Are Playing Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

Stephanie was promoted to a senior professional level position, and was on her way up the ladder to an executive level position.  She was the only female at that level in this department.  Her boss realized that her salary was well below that of her male peers, even though the career paths had been similar and responsibilities in this role were the same. She was oblivious to the situation. Luckily, she had a boss who was not satisfied with the disparity. He advocated for her salary to be brought to an equitable level, ensuring she was compensated fairly for her work.

Stephanie is one of the lucky ones. Many women are playing catch up across their entire careers.

Women Are Missing Critical Relationships

Professional women are missing critical relationships, such as mentors, coaches, advocates and sponsors, to enable success in their careers.  There’s a lack of awareness among professionals that they need these important relationships, so they fail to seek them out. Companies also don’t realize or appreciate the importance of these relationships and don’t provide a supporting environment for these relationships to occur.

Companies Feel the Impact

Why does this matter?

The impact to companies falls right to the bottom line from a number of challenges that result:

  • Attrition – professionals don’t feel supported and, especially if they’re diverse, don’t see themselves with future opportunities, as they see few leaders or others moving up that look like them. Millennials have lower levels of patience when career opportunities are not apparent and are likely to move on, leaving gaps in your potential pipeline.
  • Business results are lackluster because of ill-prepared leaders.
  • Lack of inclusion because the primarily visible talent are the ones that look like the leaders already at the top. Humans’ natural tendency is to gravitate to people with similarities.
  • The impact for professionals results in frustration from lack of opportunities, causing them to more actively look outside. They fail to reach their full potential or feel that the talents and commitment to the company are truly valued. Lack of advancement means loss of income potential over their lifetime, which has significant personal implications.

Navigating the Corporate Environment

Career success and talent development takes a team approach beyond the traditional manager/employee relationships. The corporate environment is complex, with formal and informal processes and networks, and plenty of office politics. You need people in your network to help you navigate this environment.

Download our free guide Getting the most from your mentor and get help to avoid the mistakes women make in navigating the corporate environment.

4 Misperceptions Ruining Your Leadership Potential

As you move up into leadership roles, more is demanded of you.  There’s so much flying at you each day. And, the demands on you are different than they were as an individual contributor.  In the leadership development training I facilitate, I hear rising leaders talk about the challenges of balancing these demands.

Once these leaders realize that some of the things commanding their attention everyday are not the most important priorities, they are much more in control.  As a leader, your focus must be more on enabling success for your team, and less on handling the day-to-day operational activities.

Following are a few of the most common misperceptions I hear among these leaders and how they work through them.   These misperceptions also may be holding you back from being successful in your role, and from delivering the top-notch results expected if you want to stand out.

  • It’s faster and easier to just do it myself
    • You either don’t feel comfortable asking your team members to take on additional assignments, or you don’t trust them to do the job as good as you. Get an understanding of what your team is working on, and make sure their focus is on the most important priorities. Get rid of things they don’t need to be doing, which will create more capacity.  To build trust, start with delegating assignments that are not as critical or high visibility.  Work on setting clear expectations on outcomes, and track progress. But, don’t micromanage how the work gets done.  Check out my blog post on delegating for more on these strategies.
  • I have to attend all these meetings
    • Going to meetings can make you feel important. These leaders realized that they were attending meetings with several of their team members. If you’re doing the same, you’re wasting valuable time. All of you usually aren’t needed in the same meetings.  Even if you’re all invited, you don’t all have to attend.  Align meeting attendance with who has the responsibility for that area.  Be selective at attending when you’re needed for a decision, when critical information is discussed, or where your management level is required.
  • I set the direction for my team
    • Setting a vision for your team is important to get everyone moving in the same direction. The problem is, even though it’s connected to the business priorities, you’ve set the vision for the team.  You haven’t involved your team in defining it.  If you want them to own the vision, make them part of the development process.  Then, have them take ownership of the strategies that will make the vision a reality.  Get your team involved using these 5 Traits of Great Teams.
  • My title gives me instant credibility
    • Rarely can you get things done on your own. It takes a network of people who can be a resource inside and outside of your team, as well as inside and outside of the organization.  Building this type of network takes time.  You have to work on developing relationships with others over time.  You can’t just call in favors when you haven’t invested anything first.  Get into this habit, and they’ll run when they see you coming.   Build relationships not just on what you can get, but based on how you can be a resource to others.  With this purpose, others will gladly help when you need them in the future.  Go deeper on how to develop relationships and Become An Influencer.

Being busy makes you feel important.  But being busy on the wrong priorities will make you ineffective.  Reflect on the activities that comprise your day.  Are you focused on the priorities that matter most?  Are you fully engaging your team?  Are you constantly working on relationships?  If the answers are “no, not enough”, then you need to reset.  You’re preventing yourself from achieving your full leadership potential.