What Sally Krawcheck Knows about Resilience

women in business resilienceLast week I attended the We Own It Summit in London, about increasing women’s participation in high growth entrepreneurship.  Sally Krawchek, who Fortune magazine called ‘The Last Honest Analyst’ before her high-profile departure from Bank of America during a contentious management shake-up, was a main speaker. She encouraged the audience to, in our darkest hours, to “Be Weebles’ citing the beloved children’s toy I fondly remember. As some may remember; ‘Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.’ Resilience is the key in the face of adversity. Putting her money where her mouth is, Sally recently bought 85 Broads, a 30,000 strong professional female network, which no doubt will go from strength to strength now that she is at the helm.

Resilience is a big theme for me. Earlier in the day I’d spoken with a friend, Kimberley Cole, of Thomson Reuters, who shared the advice her daughter’s school had given parents. When a child succeeds, comment on how hard they worked rather than how clever they must be. Children who believe they are capable of hard work, as opposed to just being naturally bright, will continue to set the bar higher for their achievements. Children who are brought up to believe they are ‘just clever’ don’t continue to challenge themselves, almost believing there is a natural limit to their intelligence – and not a ceiling they want to hit. Kimberley and I agreed hard work, resilience and persistence trumps all.

This all hit home for me because of a recent coaching session. My client, an academically brilliant woman, had just received bad news she wasn’t getting a job she’d been counting on. This ‘failure’ completely overwhelmed her. While she’d known for several weeks, she was still frozen in action and spent most of the call in tears. We worked through some options for her, but most importantly she admitted she had never ‘failed’ in her life.  Like many of my clients, she had put the work in over her schooling and in her career, but had never faced much adversity. She had never learned how to be resilient – a quality she now knew she would need as she progressed. I will tell her about my experience with Sally Krawcheck, because if there is one thing successful people need, it’s to become Weebles…and not fall down.

New Girls Network Round Up

We were so pleased to see how much great cross-organisational networking went on both during and after the recent live event for the New Girls Network. If you attended we hope you found the event both useful, inspiring and as much fun as we found it in presenting. We’d also like to thank Barbara-Ann King, Fiona Thompson, Margaret Heffernan and Fiona O’Hara for their candid and valuable contributions on the day.

We are happy to discuss internal presentations if you think this material would resonate with your audience. We’d love to work with organisations to encourage women to own their “Super Powers”.

Here’s what we discussed at the event:

Dr. Anne Moir, author of BrainSex, discussed the biochemical differences between male and female brains. She explained why so many gender based strengths get their basis in evolutionary biology and how brain plasticity makes sex differences important, but not the sole determinant of behaviour.  Find more about Dr. Moir’s workshops at www.brainsexmatters.com

Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris, author of Beyond the Boys’ Club and Female Breadwinnners, covered how to own your ‘Inner Superwoman’. Using the latest business research she detailed how women’s strengths in people development, clarity of expectations and role modelling, both drive profitability and create workplaces with integrity. You can download a free ‘Career Savvy Checklist for Female Breadwinners’ or find out more about Dr. Doyle Morris’ masterclasses at www.femalebreadwinners.com.

Deborah Frances White humourously explained how keeping your interactions in the ‘Charming High Status’ quadrant of behaviours, with a “still head and a smile”, is actually easier for women than men. Using your natural charisma will produce the greatest results when it comes to influencing others. You can find out more about Frances White’s work at www.deborahfrances-white.com

“I found the New Girls Network be one of the most intelligent events of this type I have attended. Intelligent, confident women – powerfully and positively talking to the intelligence of other women – a winning combination”. – Helen Dye, Cambridge University Development Office

Connecting To The “Right” People To Widen Your Circle Of Influence

A golden rule for understanding success is: If you don’t ask you don’t get.

It’s not something that women are always good at though – thinking if I keep my head down and do a good job I will get noticed and the rewards I deserve. Waiting to get noticed though will leave you waiting for a long time. And don’t think your male colleague will think twice about pushing himself ahead of you! If you are ambitious and want to be promoted you need to tell people – the right people.

If there is a project you want ask to be considered. It’s important to have these conversations with senior people early in your career. They are not mind-readers. They don’t know what you want unless you tell them. And by the way if you are quietly doing a fantastic job why would they want to change things?

Accessing senior stakeholders – the right people who can help you progress your career – is key to moving up the career ladder. But how do you get noticed by those people when they don’t even know your name? And what if your boss is getting in the way of your career progression because it suits them to keep you exactly where you are – making them look good!

My next webinar will answer many of these questions and give you actions and tools you can take immediately to start getting ‘in’ with the right people. So join me on June 21st at 8PM GMT and bring any pressing questions you have about how you get access to those people who can become your mentors and advocates to move your career forward.

Book your place online here, or take advantage of the special three webinar offer which also includes a copy of my book; Beyond the Boys’ Club, and start getting what you want at work.

Push Your Mentor to be a Sponsor and Advocate, not a Sympathetic Shoulder to Cry On

I wrote recently on the topic of mentors and how men and women use them differently, so it was interesting that another piece of research, mentioned in the article “What do Women on Wall Street Want? Men!” backed up my comments. It’s great having a mentor but that person needs to be more than someone you seek out when something goes wrong. “Mentors provide valuable advice and assessments, but they seldom actively advocate for workers at senior levels, as sponsors do” according to Karen Sumberg, a senior vice president at the Center for Work-Life Policy. This is where the real gains are. A sponsor will ‘go into bat for you’ when you aren’t in the room, suggesting you for advancement and pulling strings to get you more attractive projects. It is something we women need to work on as men are 46% more likely to have a sponsor than women. So make sure you get what you really need from your mentor. I talked about the value of sponsors and advocates in my recent webinar, and will be telling you how to access senior stakeholders and create advocates for your work both in and outside your organisation, in the next one on June 13th – you can find out more and book here.

Are Men the Next Minority Group? The Value of Women-Only Network Events

There is a growing recognition that an organisation’s diversity goals can only be met by engaging both women and men into the dialogue. Historically, women’s networks have been underfunded, yet expected to make tangible progress on rectifying the gender balance. The work of women’s networks are vital in helping create progress for many women and should be lauded for all they do achieve. However, there is a limit to how much cultural change they can affect without men at the table. Similarly, increasing numbers of men are voicing resentment at exclusion from such events with the complaint: “Where’s the network for men?” To this end, many internal women’s networks are making more efforts to attract men to their events. When I speak at events on “Moving Beyond the Boys Club” I usually have a few men in the audience. There is definitely a need for both men and women to discuss how gender impacts work.

However, as someone who also runs smaller mixed gender workshops, I strongly feel women should still have their own space at some events within those networks. Time and time again, when I work with a group of 10 people; 8 women and 2 men, I will watch the 2 men take up as much ‘air-time’ in discussing their opinions as the other 8 women combined. As facilitator, I encourage the women to speak up but am dismayed that they suddenly become much less forthright in their opinions. As Deborah Tannen notes in her seminal classic “Talking from 9-5” when men make a point in a meeting, they take 18 seconds. Women use a mere 10 seconds. I even see this happen even when there is a single man in the room – plus watch the women be much more careful about “editing” themselves.  A woman’s comment changes from “It’s hard to get a word in edgewise when I am at team meetings with my male colleagues”  to “I know it’s not all men, so I don’t want to generalise, but I sometimes find it difficult to get a word in at team meetings if the men, again not all of them to be fair, are talking over me.” You’d think the women were suddenly gardeners for all the “hedges” they use and the way they “prune” their opinions! And that’s just the comments they will voice! I have certainly had women speak to me after events to say things they did not feel they could say in front of their male colleagues. Clearly, it will take both men and women to create a more gender-neutral workplace, but I for one, advocate some women-only events as part of any network where women feel they can speak freely. For more on networking click here.

Men discuss future with Mentors, Women discuss the present

women-in-meetingIn honour of International Women’s Day Accenture released the results of a global study on attitudes towards women in work. One of the topics covered was mentoring a subject discussed a lot recently with two additional reports published by Catalyst and the Center for Work/Life policy. All of the studies confirmed the importance of mentors – and that almost equal numbers of men and women were benefiting from the use of a mentor – but what was interesting was how men and women use their mentors in different ways. Women talk about issues that are facing them in their current position whilst men use their sponsor to help them climb the career ladder and win promotion. The Accenture study illustrates that women are missing out on getting the critical career growth conversations, and whilst men are asking for promotion women are opting to take further education as a way to develop their career. I think this is a red herring – women often assume that more education will lead to the progression they are not making fast enough. It’s as if once they have that further degree, employers will have to take them more seriously – which they won’t necessarily. Look around – do the people who are climbing the ladder all have further degrees? If not, don’t assume another degree will get them to sit up and take notice. Both companies, and the women they hire, need to realise that executive women aren’t getting the support they need. Women who want to climb the career ladder need to proactively seek out a mentor who will help them move up and recognise their talents and achievements rather than encourage them into more education. You can find more articles on mentoring here.

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