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He stepped down from his job and position to spend more time with his family.
Schireson did something many working women do: drop out. An astonishing 37% of women withdraw from the workforce mid-career. And in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions, that number is higher at 52%.
The number of mid-career dropouts in STEM professions is only half the story, because fewer women enter those professions to begin with. Dropping out of science and math starts in elementary school, and continues right up through graduate school.
There are many reasons, but a chief cause it the self-fulfilling prophecy:
But the impact of stereotypes doesn’t stop there. These attitudes also operate in the workplace:
Though half of all women in STEM professions drop out mid-career, few take note. When a man does, people notice.
Schireson nails this discrepancy on his blog:
Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.
Schireson’s post points to one of the reasons men dominate leadership roles more broadly: their lack of role conflict.
Role conflict is the stress of playing two or more competing roles.
Most of us have dealt with role conflict:
However, higher status—whether due to position, wealth, or gender—diminishes role conflict. Wealth and position allow us to outsource the tasks and duties of our roles to others.
Traditional gender roles work this way too. Simply put, men have fewer roles to navigate, and less role conflict. It’s easier to move ahead if you have more time to dedicate to one responsibility.
For women, reducing role conflict may be a powerful lever for change. If we look at the issue through a global lens, the countries with the highest rates of women in management have one thing in common: means for reducing role conflict.
What are those countries? You may be surprised.
While the global average is 24%, China leads the pack with 51% of senior management jobs held by women. Russia comes in second with 43%, followed by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia and Armenia—each with 35% or more. Southeast Asia also exceeds the average percentage of women in senior management with Indonesia (41%), the Philippines (40%) and Thailand (38%) at the top.
So who’s at the bottom?
The G7 economies, according to this report by accounting firm Grant Thornton, with only 21% of senior roles occupied by women.
Why are those countries are doing better? Many post-communist countries profit from decades of equal opportunity backed by workplace policies and benefits, such as long maternity leaves, day care, shorter working hours, and other programs that eased role conflict and enabled women—and men—to focus on their families. The enduring legacy of those policies results in larger numbers of women in management.
In East Asian countries, the relatively high proportion of women in senior management can be partially explained by extended family support systems. Most families live with or near grandparents and other relatives who can provide free childcare.
Of all our efforts to make the workplace equal for women and friendly to families in the United States, this support lags most. While nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies offer flexible working hours, only 6% offer onsite daycare, and only 16% offer child care vouchers or support.
If global figures give us any indication of what moves the needle on this problem, reducing role conflict should top the list.
Business suffers whenever anyone drops out mid-career. Not only is it a huge loss of talent and organizational knowledge, but role conflict robs companies daily in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, and tardiness. In a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, child-care issues were named by employers as one of the biggest cause of workplace absenteeism and tardiness.
(And it’s not only child care. Increasingly, caring for aging and infirm parents is putting pressure on employees and employers.)
Men also miss out on family life. In a survey of Wharton male undergraduates, more men plan to abstain from fatherhood than in previous generations.
They simply can’t see how children fit into the picture.
The change starts with defining this as a human problem, not a women’s problem. Neither is it a work-life balance issue.
It’s a business problem, a productivity problem, a talent drain, and waste of investment.
People on the margins are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the first to notice and sound the alarm to an issue that eventually (if not currently) affects us all. But it’s not their problem, no more than car pollution is a problem only for those who live nearest the freeway.
Women’s drop-out rate is a symptom of something that negatively affects men and companies as well. So let’s call it what it is, and recognize that we all pay the price for it.
Next, we need to push the conversation forward, and have a robust debate about parenting, household chores, and gender roles—at work, at home, and in public. We must ask for support from our workplaces, and negotiate for child support, daycare vouchers, after school care, flex time, and maternity and paternity leave as part of our compensation packages.
We need businesses and organizations to support flexible career paths, to provide off-ramping and on-ramping programs so that taking time out to have a family is a phase of one’s career, not the end of it.
We must bring this up at home as well. We have to talk about housework, chores and responsibilities. Thankfully, gender and relationship roles have changed dramatically in the last twenty-five years. More partners actively share family duties and more dads stay at home.
Yet statistics on household work are still sobering. On average, men take on far less housework and parenting responsibility. Sharon Sassler, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management, who has studied gender roles and division of labor, says that the last frontier of gender equality might just be “who cleans up.”
Here’s where women can take the lead. They’re not just asking men to take more responsibility; they have to change as well. For some women, it might mean giving up the sense of control. For others, it might mean valuing their career as much as they value their husband’s. And for some, it means asking other family members, even older children, to step up.
Schireson’s post shows that it’s not just the canaries in the coal mine, but the miners, too, who are starting to show the strain. Men and women are closer than ever to finding a middle ground in which we can find solutions that work. Look at those global numbers. Let’s take inspiration from those countries.
If they can do it, so can we.
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Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
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But a company cannot be successful without a dynamic and experienced team of managers.
Each day, the management team of your company sets out to do everything it can to put employees in a position to succeed. In order to appreciate the pressure managers are under, we first need to understand and accurately measure the daily practices of the most effective managers.
In order for a sales department to be successful, the manager has to create a culture that fosters success. Sales enablement is the process of giving sales professionals the tools they need to succeed. A strong culture is maintained by a manager who gets involved in what the employees are doing and helps employees to solve daily problems.
A good manager is out there sustaining a culture of success and not locked in their office wondering what is going on.
If an employee has displayed a talent for doing something that is useful for the company, then a good manager would have taken note of that talent. Each and every day, good managers talk to their employees and monitor the work that is being done to determine the talent level of each employee.
When the company faces a crisis, a good manager knows which employees to call on to help solve the problem and move the company forward.
A good manager has told the human resources department to line up interviews with any employee that could benefit the company. That is not to say that a good manager is always hiring new staff members.
But a good manager does want to know what talent is available should the need ever arise.
The company could decide to start a new department or a key employee could decide to leave the company. If that were to ever happen, an effective manager already has a pool of potential employment candidates to call on.
Each and every day, an effective manager sets up meetings with his employees to gauge the employee’s progress in their development and to identify any challenges that may have come up.
A good manager does not wait until the annual review to sit down and meet with employees.
While there should always be that open level of communication between employees and their manager, it is always a good idea for managers to schedule one-on-one meetings with all employees throughout the course of the day.
There are few things that derail a successful company faster than internal conflict. A little friendly competition for jobs and promotions is a healthy thing for any company. But when a real conflict erupts, that can disrupt the entire company.
A good manager is constantly keeping an eye out for potential conflict and working to eliminate the issue before it explodes into a problem. An effective manager does not avoid conflict in the hopes that it will just go away.
An effective manager addresses conflict head-on and eliminates it immediately.
Employees know when they are being lied to, and they do not like it. While the truth can sometimes hurt, it is still in the manager’s best interest to be honest with employees at all times.
Employees will have to understand that there are times when the manager cannot be forthright with delicate or sensitive information.
But when the information needs to be distributed, employees want to know that their managers are being honest with them each and every time.
Effective managers are interactive leaders who understand and remember what it is like to be an employee. But managers also have to keep one eye on the future growth of the company, and that is what makes a manager’s job difficult.
So how are you doing with the above six daily practices? Are there areas of improvement that you can start today or tomorrow? What sort of challenges do you face in becoming a better manager or leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Because very few projects have the luxury of having the best of the best, the kingpins, or the people who make things happen on their teams, project managers need to be exceptional people managers and motivators. (Projects by nature are risky, so organizations usually keep the best people focused on the known, the proven and the established.)
The leadership method described here is not well documented – nor is it recognized as an “official” management or leadership strategy – but I can guarantee that it is a principle that will work in both management and leadership environments.
Most people have lives outside of work, ambitions, aspirations, hopes and dreams. If you follow one simple rule – EVERYBODY IS IMPORTANT – you will move mountains.
Acceptance, appreciation, interest and above all trust are the highest forms of recognition. If you expose your team members to these (genuine) affections, they will find ways to align themselves to your goals, they will search for ways to excel and I promise you that they will search for the plate to step up to.
If someone is wanted, regarded and trusted, they reward such positive treatment with the behavior that is suitable. If your team is made up of the “second-best” or even not that flattering groups, you will be able to show that their behavior, dedication and hard work is appreciated, recognized and NOTICED.
Superseding the once “best-of-the-best” has happened to many of the people who were on my teams. The moment they get used to the good behavior = good results programme, they are hard to stop…
What do you have to lose? Give it a go…
In its narrowest form, a process describes how we move from one point (state) to another. If we think about the common understanding of a process, it can be likened to a roadmap.
What is hidden from view are:
If people know and understand what they are required to do, by when and to which standard, they will do whatever is required to achieve the result (successfully). If they understand who will take something forward, they humanize the situation, they treat others as clients, and your example (above) is sound, they will treat each other in the same way.
If you look inside you – you will be able to attribute each failure that you have had to the absence of clearly defined goals and objectives – internal or external.
The sentence that people DO NOT want communicated inside an organization is this:
>>> IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO FAIL.
The reason organizations try and avoid this is because they have not learnt that the correct statement should be this:
>>> IT IS UNACCEPTABLE NOT TO TRY!!!
Bloopers, failures and whoopers can be repaired – with honesty and integrity.
If everybody is allowed to try their best, fail, learn, and move forward – progress in every sense will be staggering.
Fear is one of the most negative emotions that people can experience. If they are required to perform any function within a basis of fear you can predict the results.
Q: So if your team is motivated, know what they need to do, and they know that their best will be acceptable – what should the manager or leader do?
A: Stay out of their way!!
The only way that a leader or manager can enhance the performance would be through enablement – Make sure they have what they need, help where they need help, encourage when the day is dark and praise when the sun is shining.
THE ABSOLUTE PPP RULE:
Superior production (delivery of agreed results within time-frames, budget and materials consumption frameworks) is achieved by positively motivated people, doing what is expected of them, and working without fear.
GUARANTEE: If this does not work for you – Let me know!!! I will publicly renounce the statement!!!
Please feel free to comment, share and re-post this…
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Well read these statements:
“I was just promoted into management and am shocked at how stupid my employees can be. I give them directions and then they do 18 things I didn’t want. I’m getting really frustrated and curt with them. How do I make sure they do tasks the way I want them done?” – Actual question sent in by recently promoted manager (Source)
“My organization has tripled the number of employees I supervise, and I’m exhausted with how many stupid mistakes they make. I make every effort to train them, and yet they still manage to misunderstand nearly everything I say. How can I make the job to clear to them and not waste so much time with their mistakes?” – Yes, another real question sent into a newspaper! (Source)
Not only do people think that their direct reports are stupid, they are also willing to ask for advice about them… And “experts” are willing to answer.
But take a different look at the equation:
What if the reason that a team is “stupid” has more to do with the person in charge than the people on the team?
We are the masters of how we interpret the world. That’s why people can see the same glass as half full or half empty – the glass isn’t different, the perspective is. It’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a trick our brain plays, only looking for evidence supporting our preconceived notions or strongly held beliefs.
In one my first real jobs, my first manager struggled to identify three positive attributes in my first quarterly review. Right after that, I got the opportunity to do the same job for another leader in the organization. In three months, I was given a huge project to reduce attrition in a key area. It was successful and I was promoted to manager of the group.
But for manager two, I was a capable and resourceful employee. For manager one, I was a total screw up. I didn’t act differently work any harder. The difference was in their perspective…
Do you think that the people who “work for you” are brainless? It likely has more to do with your view of them than their performance.
Teams are only good as their combined abilities. Leaders aren’t always given the opportunity to pick the people, but they can shape a high-performance team culture. This culture encourages people to step up or step out. Either is fine, as long as everyone is rowing in the same direction.
During a promotion, I “inherited” a team that wasn’t doing so well. I interviewed the team. They were passionate and diligent about doing a great job, but the previous manager assumed their jobs were mundane and they must be “simpletons” (his words, really). He also didn’t deal with a single performance issue.
I took the following actions immediately:
The team’s performance turned around dramatically.
Did the team change? Not really. I didn’t rejigger their processes. It was really a matter of what I thought of the team. It’s the notion of “shadow of the leader.”
Essentially, the team will emulate the leader’s actions, and will be a reflection of the leader’s perception of the group. Think about a person you were in a relationship with that didn’t work out, then they end up great relationship. It’s likely they didn’t really change much.
What’s more likely is that they found someone that saw their inner greatness.
You shape how the people around you show up. Unless you are in a war zone (and research tells us sometimes even then), you control how great people show up.
What does this all mean for the stupid team that you are forced to lead?
It means if you think you are leading stupid people, look in the mirror. The likely cause of the collective stupidity of the team is that you haven’t answered/addressed some very important questions:
Are the people on the team you have the privilege of leading really stupid? Probably not. A team being “stupid” has more to do with the leader than the members of the team. Everyone is masterful at something – it’s just a matter of finding out what.
Which one are you?
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Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.
At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.
Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.
As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.
Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?
A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.
They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.
Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.
Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:
A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.
An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.
Indicators are important, but they are not results.
That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.
Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.
Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics. People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.
What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same, “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”
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