Aug 15, 201211:53 PMPetra Learning, LLC
Tips for the Business Professional
Take the Bull By the Horns and Drive Change
Stop begging and start claiming your inheritance. I’ve witnessed so many firsts in just the past five years that I wouldn’t be able to list them all, so why am I so intent on upsetting the status quo? I suppose it’s because I don’t believe that women have yet reached their full potential and I desperately long for that to occur. Plus, I’ve never been one to back away from the uncomfortable and the controversial if it’s necessary for growth. So here we go. I want to pose two questions to you today that could irk you a bit, but stay with me please. If we are to achieve the results that we so desire with women in the workplace, is it time for us to have:
- Women leaders designated as mentors for high-performing women and men?
- Women initiatives and women networking groups marketed to men as valuable career enhancers?
It seems like each day brings another historic moment in our human journey. But just when you’re ready to celebrate, you’re hit with sobering statistics from a survey or you’re confronted with the stark realities painted in books like Half the Sky. Your euphoria is short-lived and you begin to wonder when, when, when. You may even wonder why and what will it take to create sustained change on a global level. It came seem overwhelming. We have tried mentoring program after mentoring program but it never seems like enough. We have women resource groups that have staged event after event but it never seems like enough. That’s why I pose these questions. How can we expect companies to create an environment where women succeed when our current structures condition men to believe that:
- Men have skills and resources that women need to succeed but women don’t have anything to offer men? That’s why male leaders mentor aspiring women but women leaders don’t mentor aspiring men.
- Men attend women initiatives and networking events to show their support? It’s an act of solidarity versus being an action that actually enhances their careers. It’s time to change that mindset.
If we are to change this picture, then it’s time for women to stop begging for recognition and acceptance and to start claiming their inheritance. We need to engage with men different than they have in the past. Stop using women leadership stories to try to prove that women can do a job as well as a man and start using these leadership stories as case studies for our inspiring young men to analyze and learn how to emulate. Jack Welch didn’t write his leadership book on “Winning” to prove that he was a successful business leader. He wrote it because he was a successful business leader and he felt he had wisdom to share with others. Successful women leaders need to understand that they have just as much to share and they need to share it with just as much authority. As women leaders we should strive to:
- Lead high-profile initiatives where opportunities to mentor both men and women will readily present themselves.
- Identify a male protégé that we can invest in alongside our female protégé. Better yet, identify 2 or 3 of each and treat them as a cohort. Request that they do the same and put the multiplication effort in effect. You will have 6 mentees (3 females and 3 males) each mentoring 6 mentees. As this continues to pass down, the multiplication effect becomes staggering.
- Use women initiatives and networking events to open doors for our male counterparts. Let them see the value and the power of these connections and they will begin to show an interest that goes beyond checking a box on an annual goal.
Human psychology is a fascinating field that is both simple and complex. I’ve come to learn that I could (and likely will) study this field for years and not know everything there is to know about how the mind works. But one thing I do know and that’s this – how adults learn has not changed despite all of our advancements. We learn but seeing it modeled for us and then doing it. So, if you want a whole generation of men to learn a new way of engaging with women, they need to see it modeled for them and they need to have opportunities to do it. No amount of telling will work. No amount of logic or rationalization will work. But relationships --- relationships change everything.