Leadership Blog

Being a visible role model

CloudWorld

 

I was asked recently, why I am inclined to bring my gender to the front when I talk about my work.  They wondered if I felt that being a woman was a necessary identifying descriptor for me.

This made me realize that I should clarify my intentions and my point of view.

I haven’t always thought my gender was important to my professional identity.  Ironically, my early career had me feel less a minority for my gender, and much more a minority for my age. I was always the youngest in everything I did (boy someone should warn a girl that status is fleeting!).

If I am honest with myself, I suspect I’m in tech expressly because it was mostly men.  I have always enjoyed the experience of interacting with men. I’m guessing this has a lot to do with being raised by a single father.  It also has to do with the way my early school experiences had me changing schools every year or two.  Making new friends was a challenge for me, and after early middle school I found boys more welcoming of new members into their midst than girls. By high school I had more male than female friends.  I enjoy the directness, lack of emotion and the general get-to-the-point working style that [most] men bring to solving problems.  For all of the horror stories of the bad behavior of men in tech, and I have had some of those as well, the overwhelming majority of my experiences have been incredibly positive. Also,there is rarely a line in the women’s restroom. (So I got that goin for me, which is nice!)

I have had incredible support and encouragement from men I have worked for and with, throughout my career, and I have more positive than negative stories professionally by a large margin.

So why all the girl-power/feminism fuss now?

First, is the reality that women’s participation in tech is shrinking at a time when the need for technical proficiency is growing.  As a mother of two girls, the lack of momentum for girls in STEM fields is top of mind.

Second, is the growing realization of the responsibility I have as a visible role model for others.  This I find hard, but just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

 

Women like Telle Whitney have had a lot to do with my changed perspective on why we need role models:

 

“...having role models is important for career development, and is an inspiration for women who might consider a different university of career path.

If you don’t see anyone who looks like you, it’s harder to imagine yourself in that role

I now feel a strong sense of obligation to be a visible role model for other women in technology.  Women who are just entering their careers, and women who are wondering if they should consider putting their hand up for senior leadership.  I am mindful of my ability to give back and I take that responsibility seriously.

When I’m on stage, I will often get comments from other women expressing gratitude for what I’m doing.   With each comment, I realize even more how important this is.

Capture

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be part of the minority of women in tech must make it our personal responsibility for being visible role models for the next generation.  If we do not, we are again erasing our contribution to this exciting and important profession.  So the next time you are asked to join a panel, step up on stage or share with the next generation what you do for living — don’t let us down by telling yourself that you are not the person who should be on the stage taking charge.

If not you, who?

If you want to be part of the solution, if you want to see more women in powerful leadership roles in our industry, you have to be willing to do your part, even [especially] if it makes you uncomfortable.

When LinkedIn Offers

LIInvite

I’m know you find this shocking, but when LinkedIn offered for me to publish on their platform I was like… you bet!

Even though I know you realize that what I don’t need is another platform, I have enough of those I’m neglecting.

Lucky for me, I did have a topic I was marinating and it seemed appropriate for that audience.

The topic is empathy.

Empathy

A word I’m sure I didn’t know how to define when I was 8, but a quick spot check from my children confirmed they were very clear on the meaning (I guess I practice my content themes on them before I write, who knew?).

Anyway, go give it a read so it doesn’t feel lonely.

Why Empathy is the critical 21st Century Skill.

You guys are the best.

Cross Posting #FTW!

_____________________

Advanced Reading if you are interested h/t John Nolt, Brene Brown and Patty Azzarello

Get a plan to increase your confidence

Image

I managed to get through high school and college never taking a second language, even in the ’80s this required advanced maneuvers through the academic handbook.  Why would I do this?  Was I against taking a language?

Nope.  I desperately wanted to take a language, but I lacked confidence.  

The only language offered in my high school was Spanish, and I wanted to take French or Japanese (it was the ’80s).  

Later, when I went off to college, my 17 year old scholarship self, decided I would be unable to keep my required GPA taking a language, given I was already four years behind. 

Recursive logic indeed, especially when you factor in the fact that I had an above average memory and a crazy serious work ethic [seriously,  I was so much older then…].  Looking back on this with the benefit of hindsight, I can say confidently, that the odds of me not being able to handle the rigor of a 101 language course was exactly 0.

So when I read that women have a confidence gap, looking for perfection in themselves before putting their hands up for consideration for professional opportunity, I recognize we need to take this seriously.  Especially when we look at the incredibly slow pace of progress for women in senior leadership in the west (in retrospect maybe I was onto something by not taking Japanese).  

Image

 

So what to do?  

I think it comes down to recognizing the need to have a strategy for being confident.  Being angry at men for being better at this than women, completely misses the point.  

Confidence is a critical skill for professional success.  Odds are you could be better.  

Work on it.

Some useful suggestions

  1. Get your body and your mind helping you by improving your inner monologue and Power Posing
  2. Get someone with perspective to help you compare your qualifications more objectively
  3. Do a better job recognizing that the fact that you are skeptical of your own qualification, is a sign of your competence

 Don’t let a lack of confidence get in the way of your success, practice more, work harder, figure it out.

You can do this!

Get control of your inner monologue

negative-committee

Internal monologue’s are important.

They shape us more than we want to admit and we all have them.

The lionshare of these monologues are not helpful.  Most of us use these internal discussions to remind ourselves of shame and inadequacy.

What if you could use these monologues to help you? What if you could be intentional with the voice in your head, to help you be your best.

The research calls this priming.  Manipulating your remembering self to better impact the outcome of a current event.

I’m talking about simple things you can do to make yourself appear more powerful, that will actually make you more powerful.  Bringing out your absolute best self, the self that even you are not sure you can be.

If I could get you to take on a few habits in 2014 here are what I would wish for you

    1. Take up Power Posing.  Do this often.  Remind your body that you are powerful and in control (especially when you do not feel it).
    2. Invest in documenting your ambitions and reminding yourself of times you were most powerful
    3. Quit replaying the stuff you did badly, instead focus on moving forward.

As Seth says

Internal monologue amplifies personal drama. To the outsider, neither exists. That’s why our ledge-walking rarely attracts a crowd. What’s in your head is real, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can see the resistance you are battling (or care about it).

You own your inner monologue, make it work for you.

Why giving back is important for your career.

Image

It is my strong point of view that one of the best ways to create professional progress is with a purposeful strategy of giving back.

Now, I’m sure you are all thinking about examples that disprove that statement, but lets be honest, if you were a counter example, someone who could ignore others and still get ahead, you wouldn’t be reading my leadership development blog.

You would be on your private jet or something.

I stumbled on this point of view accidentally.  It’s not like I didn’t care about giving back before, I just didn’t see the relationship to professional progress.

I began my deliberate practice of giving back in 2010, when I needed something meaningful to focus on and I wanted to find a new way to think about progress.  At the time I didn’t understand what I actually learning, I just knew I was heading in the right direction.

Since then I have observed some interesting things about giving back and mentoring others

Essentially a purposeful strategy of giving back is a way to make your own luck.  And who doesn’t need more luck?  Probably those guys on the private jet…

Ode to women in STEM for Ada Lovelace Day 2013

women in STEM

As background — Ada Lovelace Day is a call to action to help fight invisibility of women in STEM.

The idea: We need to have more visible role models of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math so that girls can imagine themselves in those roles, thus  increasing the number of girls in these fields.  We need this to happen not just for social justice but for the economic growth.

Women in STEM fields have a huge impact on the global economy and are a critical resource to help solve the most complex problems we face in the 21st Century.

You should read more about that here:

Ada Lovelace Day 2013: fight the invisibility of women in STEM!

October 15 2013 will be the fifth annual Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM.

You can participate in Ada Lovelace Day by attending Ada Lovelace Day Live! in London; attending one of the more than 20 other worldwide events; or by writing about a woman in STEM whose work has inspired you, publishing the story on October 15, and adding it to the Ada Lovelace Day story collection.

My Contribution to #ALD13

I am taking it upon myself to compile a list of the women on twitter who inspire me in and around #STEM, and to ask for your help in expanding it, either by reminding me of who I missed*, or introducing me to people I need to know.

I want to be someone who helps bring more people to the front to stand out as role models.  I realize that many of us downplay our ability and responsibility to be a role model for others and I want to suggest if not you than who?

#STEM Power Brokers

Women who are CXOs leading the charge.

#STEM Industry Movers

Women who make the industry work.  Ladies in Innovation, Product Management, Marketing, Program Management, Press/ Analyst/ Partner Relations

#STEM Builders and Makers

Women in Engineering, Science, Technology who are builders, Doers, Leaders and Makers.

I encourage you each to contribute to causes like Ada Lovelace Day recognizing not just the big names, but the breadth and depth of contributions that are happening today to bring forward the power of women to benefit our world.

*All Feedback welcome including additional categories I need to add and/or move

My inclusive commitment to feminism

Image

Given that this week included women’s equality day, I decided it was time to write a blog I’ve been thinking about for some time.

It is my firm belief that for women to begin to #ChangeTheRatio we have to get past the petty discussions of whether multi-tasking is a feminine capability and what a leader looks like.

We must cease with the competitive male-bashing approach and make inclusion part of our overall solution.  We need men and women working together to solve the very real gender equality issue.

This problem is not going to be resolved by just encouraging women to develop new skills and it certainly is not going to be resolved by women continuing to complain about those skills that men are missing (and rewarded for anyway).

We must do more and demand more.

Every one of us.

We all need to stand up and speak out and we need to do our part and hold each other accountable.  I plan to be an active part of the solution to this problem.

Here are some great examples of what is happening to move this topic forward

For myself, my plan is to support all women working to achieve their full potential, and celebrate men supporting them.  As a mother of two smart and capable daughters, I have no choice.  They are watching me and expecting me to make their opportunities greater than my own (as those who came before have done for me).

Our world needs more women in leadership.

Our future demands it.

Feminism is not the absence of men, it is the inclusion of women, we can and must use all of our available talents to lead by example.

What about you? What is your plan?