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Pink Matters, Part 2: Practical advice for aspiring women business leaders

TED talks sheryl sandberg on women leadersMy 30-year-old stepdaughter recently sent me an interesting and entertaining video link  featuring Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Sandberg pointed out some of the gender inequities in the business world and offered three ”self-help remedies”:

  1. Sit at the table. Sandberg has seen women who don’t take a seat at the table in important meetings but remain on the sidelines, both literally and metaphorically.
  2. Make your partner a real partner. Sandberg emphasized the importance of having a supportive spouse as you climb the career ladder.
  3. Don’t leave before you leave. Sandberg noted a tendency among women in child-bearing years to stop ”raising their hands” well before they actually need to take maternity leave.

Sandberg also cited a Harvard Business School study that showed how success and likeability were positively correlated in men, but not in women. Gender stereotypes can be reinforced by the lack of positive role models for women in the workplace — women who are successful and well liked by male and female co-workers.

It’s not that most women don’t want to be successful.  A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 91% of senior-level UK women surveyed, compared with 76% of UK men, want to be promoted.

On a lighter note, however, journalist Arianna Huffington thinks that women have a more difficult time being successful in their careers for another reason. They don’t get enough sleep. In fact, she says, that’s why women really should sleep their way to the top…in a chaste way, of course.

Are you as a thought leader clearing away the barriers for women in your organization and helping them find the way to success at the top? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See related posts:Part 3: Female leaders “having it all:” Myth or achievable goal?
Part 1: Pink Matters: Women are still scarce in the C-suite

Pink Matters, Part 1: Women are still scarce in the C-suite

You might have noted a recent trend in this blog to focus on color. An obvious color combination to describe a major water conference like Singapore International Water Week was ”blue and gold and green.” The last two blog entries were about the ”gray ceiling,” and this one is about the ”pink ghetto.”

”Pink ghetto” is a trendy buzzword for women hitting a glass ceiling and not being able to break through it. Rather than ‘living in the boardrooms,’ they remain in the so-called pink ghetto of middle management in staff roles.

A new McKinsey & Co. study reports that 50% to 65% of women at the vice-president level and higher are in staff roles, compared with only 41% to 48% of men, who are more likely to be in the line jobs that lead to the top.

According to data from the Center for Talent Innovation, U.S. women make up only 34% of what they refer to as the “marzipan layer,” the talent-rich level right below the icing on the corporate cake. UK women comprise just 24%.

Click to view at full size

To open the gates of the pink ghetto, one INSEAD professor of organizational behavior, Herminia Ibarra, suggested that CEOs who want better results should commit to assigning women to business-critical roles.

Ibarra cited the Corporate Gender Gap Report report she co-authored for the World Economic Forum (PDF), In which the top HR person in the largest companies of 20 OECD countries: “Among the assignments that you consider to be business critical/important, what percentage, in your opinion, are currently held by women (e.g., key start-ups, turnarounds, and line roles in key business units or markets)?” Sadly but not surprisingly, the most common answers were “0-10%” or “not measured.”

Her solution is to apply what she calls the 70-20-10 rule. In addition to 20% of learning and development coming from mentoring and 10% coming from classroom learning, 70% should come from on-the-job learning through stretch assignments in pivotal roles.

Other research by the Center for Talent Innovation also suggested that mentorship, strategic alliances or sponsorship is vital: UK women with sponsors are 52% more likely to be satisfied with their rate of advancement than those without.

Are you as a thought leader focused on effective ways to get deserving women out of the pink ghetto and into the C-suite? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See related posts:
Part 3: Female leaders “having it all:” Myth or achievable goal?
Part 2: Practical advice for aspiring women business leaders

Another Gray Matter: Dorian Gray and Lessons in Authentic Leadership

What can you as a modern thought leader learn from the Gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray?

the picture of dorian gray

Leaders should consider the unintended, negative consequences of “faking it on the facade.” (Image from the1945 film, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

It’s been decades since I taught this work by Oscar Wilde, but I remember the strong impact it had on students when they first read it. As I’m currently covering “gray matters” in this blog (seethe postings Gray Matters Part 1 and Part 2), I thought I’d look at how the 19th century book might apply to the business world today.

First, a reminder of the story’s plot: To say that the eponymous character Dorian Gray was a vain man is an understatement. Extreme vanity drove him to sell his soul so that a portrait painted of him would grow old instead of himself. Unfortunately, not only did Dorian continue to age in the painting, his portrait also grew more hideous with each ugly thought, word and deed he committed in real life.

The morals of the story are clear. For example, “be careful what you wish for,” “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” or “what we do has an impact on who we are.”

But the key point I’d like to make here is that Dorian Gray on the outside did not mirror who he was on the inside. To be an authentic, respected thought leader, what’s outside has to reflect who you truly are.

Does your outside match what’s on the inside? Are you trying to fake it on the façade? Are you perceived as a “genuine” thought leader? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

See related posts:
Gray Matters Part 2: Engage your organization’s emerging, next-generation leadersGray Matters Part 1: Assessing executive career opportunities after age 50

Download links for Project Gutenberg ebooks: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Gray Matters, Part 2: Engage your organization’s emerging, next-generation leaders

See related post: Gray Matters, Part 1: Assessing executive career opportunities after age 50

holding the keys and older business execs not turning over leadership to gen x workers

Are over-50 business leaders gripping the “keys to the kingdom” too tightly?

When older, over-50 workers break through the “gray ceiling” and continue their careers, that can mean fewer jobs for younger workers. Several years ago, Fortune Magazine described this workplace phenomenon in this way: “Generation X, it would seem, is in danger of turning into the Prince Charles of the American workforce: perpetual heirs apparent awaiting the keys to the kingdom.”

More recently, Sylvia Ann Hewlett pointed out in a Harvard Business Review blog: “Unlike Prince Charles, though, Gen X’ers don’t plan to stick around and hope for the crown.”The blog cited a survey from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) that found 37% of Generation X workers surveyed were looking to leave their current employers within the next three years and co-related that to the lack of promotion possibilities in companies that retain older workers.

Suggestions for holding onto both generations of workers included mentoring programs that pair up Baby Boomer managers with Generation X employees and setting up intergenerational teams that will bond them to each other and to the company.

Are you doing all the right things to reward Generation X workers if you can’t promote them? How can you keep them engaged and committed until they, too, are old enough to hit — and then break through — the gray ceiling? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See related posts:
Another Gray Matter: Dorian Gray and Lessons in Authentic LeadershipPart 1: Assessing executive career opportunities after age 50

Photo credit: mharrsch on Flickr


Gray Matters, Part 1: Assessing executive career opportunities after age 50

See related post: Gray Matters, Part 2: Engage your organization’s emerging, next-generation leaders
over 50 business execs not going into the sunset career opportunities

Some bad news and some good news for over-50 workers who are hitting the proverbial ”gray ceiling” in their careers but are unwilling to “ride quietly into the sunset.”

The bad news is statistical, as recently reported in a survey by ExecuNet and captured in the infographic shown below. Their survey reported that 63 percent of search firms say it’s harder to place a 50+ candidate than a younger one, compared with only 52 percent in 2010. Continue Reading…

SIWW 2012 Quotable Quotes: Ideas and observations from the world’s leading water thought leaders

Attendees at Singapore International Water Week find it is easy to understand why the event has grown into one of the world’s premier forums for the technology innovators, business leaders, and policy makers in water. Following are just a sampling of “Quotable Quotes” from SIWW 2012 that were first published as tweets by PUB, the Singapore national water agency, and by Global Water Intelligence, a leading trade journal in the water industry. I also published a total of 8 blogs for Black & Veatch, which can be found on the www.waterdialogue.com site. Continue Reading…

Blue and Gold and Green Matters: The Colors of Water at SIWW 2012

Plenary session Singapore International Water Week 2012 SIWWWhy should you as a thought leader in another industry care about what’s happening at a water conference in Singapore?

Singapore’s vital water industry makes it one of the world’s most important and influential Hydro Hubs, a reputation enhanced by its sponsorship of the successful Singapore International Water Week, now in its fifth year. With the goal of 11,000 jobs in the water industry in 2015, Singaporeans will benefit from the expected S$1.7 billion that the water industry will add to the GDP by that date.

Read more: Thoughtleaderzone’s Quotable Quotes from Singapore International Water Week (doc)

So water may be blue, but the water industry certainly has a golden touch. There’s money to be made in a field where demand continues to rise and supplies are limited. There’s ”blue gold” in using water more efficiently in any industry to save money and to preserve natural resources, which makes sense if you’re trying to be green. And you are trying to be green, aren’t you?

The second highest consumer of water, following agriculture, is industrial water, which accounts for about 25% of global water demand. Oil and gas, food and beverage, mining and chemical industry sectors contribute to that large statistic. If industrial water users lowered their water footprint every year, if agricultural users lowered theirs, and domestic users went on a ”water diet,” we could secure our water future.

Are you aware of your water footprint at work and at home? Are you reducing it year after year? Are you looking for ways to become a model thought leader of a water-wise company that focuses on environmental, economic and social issues, the ”triple bottom line”? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Water: Valuing the Invaluable

During Singapore International Water Week, two dozen of the world’s water leaders took part in the second Global Water Leaders Group, sponsored by Global Water Intelligence (GWI) magazine.

GWI breakfast water leadership at singapore international water week 2012

The goal of drawing together these thought leaders went beyond networking, though that was a positive side effect of the event. Discussing how best to promote and communicate the value of water was the main focus of the breakfast meeting.

Thought leaders from different regions represented a wide range of viewpoints – from utility leaders, government officials, trade association partners, industrial clients and consultants.

gwi water leadership group at singapore international water week 2012The first dinner dialogue was held at GWI’s Global Water Summit in Rome in April; and more than 30 water leaders attended that session, which also focused on the value of the invaluable resource, water.

Results from these roundtable sessions, as well as upcoming dialogues in the series, will be reported at the next Singapore International Water Week.

Are you, too, focused on promoting the value of water within your own company? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Water Industry Thought Leaders to Meet in Singapore

2012 Singapore International Water WeekIn the face of global urbanisation and climate challenges, the upcoming Singapore International Water Week 2012 (SIWW) will reinforce the pressing need for thought leaders to unite in their efforts to integrate sustainable water management strategies into the urban planning process.

Focusing on the theme “Water Solutions for Liveable and Sustainable Cities,” SIWW will provide the platform to address these challenges and explore opportunities in the integration of water solutions and urban planning in cities around the world.

meet for coffee at siww

Held from 1-5 July in conjunction with the 3rd World Cities Summit and the inaugural CleanEnviro Singapore, SIWW will offer delegates, trade visitors and exhibitors a wide range of possibilities to hear industry thought leaders promote practical and sustainable water solutions. The events will allow participants to tap into a vast network of public and private sector players in urban solutions.

I’ll be there to report on what global water leaders and practitioners from the public and private sectors are debating and to participate in water dialogues, network with key industry players and see leading-edge technologies and best practices.

If you are planning to attend this event, contact me and we can have a coffee and share what we’ve heard from the world’s thought leaders on water and wastewater.

Are You a Critical Thought Leader?

critical thinking the thinkerAre you a critical thought leader? Hopefully, the answer to this double entendre question is yes – the “right” yes. A critical thought leader isn’t someone who’s a negative manager who constantly criticizes. It’s a person who uses critical thinking in order to lead with wisdom and authority.

A recent article in Forbes magazine outlined five types of critical thinking skills that business people should develop to be more effective leaders. The author believes that strategic leaders need to think about the present and the future, the short term and the long term, in order to make better decisions. Critical thought leaders, therefore, should be able to use each of the following thinking patterns:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Implementation thinking
  3. Conceptual thinking
  4. Innovative thinking
  5. Intuitive thinking

Each of these styles has a nuanced meaning, as described by the author. But key is the ability to use the thinking pattern appropriate to the particular situation.

Are you the “right” kind of critical thought leader? Are you a flexible thought leader who’s able to adapt your critical thinking style as you respond to the demands of your work day? Ask, assess, then act.

Photo by ArchTypeX on Flickr

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