My inclusive commitment to feminism


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?

When Trend Lines Fail

When you work in technology and are inclined to study disruption, you will begin to realize that it is easy to be misled by trend lines.

Trend lines work great for markets that are steady and predictable.

They tend to be less than great for markets in transition or experiencing new external market forces.

I’m not suggesting that we should avoid analytics and trends, I’m just saying that we need to be careful that we are not investing in fantastic buggy whips (or carriages if you are feeling pedantic).

I see real change coming in the world of HR technology. A shift from systems built to benefit HR to systems built to maximize business results (of the people, by the people, and for the people).

I am not the only one who is starting to sense this shift. As we watch the market for HR Technology and Business systems, I strongly recommend we keep our eye on the ball — things are getting truly interesting in our world.

Time to be a leader, not a follower. But if you must be a follower, be sure you are following the right people.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Whose Job is it to Tell You That You are Wrong?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read this advice before, probably did, so please let me know if I need to add attribution.

You should put someone on your team who will watch for (and tell you) when you are wrong.


Make them a direct and make it clear it’s their job. Teach them how to tell you in a way that you can hear. 

You need this badly.

As a senior leader, I am often wrong.

The key is to make sure my wrongness doesn’t do serious damage. This is where having a safety net — in the form of a person — is so helpful. 

As a technical leader, I tend to make this role an architect responsibility. Someone who not only helps watch my back, but can also answer all my confused questions to work out the right path with confidence. 

I have been so lucky to have people willing to take on this role for me. I would have made so many more mistakes without them. As luck would have it, those who have played the role somehow work out that it is a good idea to tell me I’m right once in a while, just to keep me happy.

I am blessed.

Who do you have watching your back? Have you given them the charter to tell you when you are wrong? Hurry and add that to their job description, I promise you will be glad you did!

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Are You Prepared to Work for Your Peer?

I have been in management long enough to have seen a common story play out several times, it goes something like this. 

There is a strong team. Each has their own unique strengths, but overall, they all do good work.

The leader departs.

And someone has to be given the lead role. Multiple people want to be considered. Some are more qualified than others. Each think they are the most qualified.

One is chosen. The rest are upset. 

The most common next outcome is that eventually everyone gets over it and moves on.


No one forgets.

Especially the person who was picked to be the leader. That person went from having a peer they could trust, to feeling like the need to watch their back.

So I ask you…

At what point did the person who was not picked reallylose something?

I would offer to you that the real loss was not the missed opportunity but the future opportunities that were also lost. Instead of focusing energy to cement a future promotion, they showed everyone that they were a sore loser.

When you find yourself not chosen, remember that you are being watched. And in that moment, you can show the best or the worst of your authentic self. While you cannot control the outcome of every opportunity, you can certainly stop the opportunity flow by making bad choices.

Don’t let this happen to you. Be the master of your own career and decide that while you cannot control every career outcome, you can control your energy and your attitude.

A bad attitude is never career enhancing – avoid that at all costs.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

The Leadership Cop-out, the Employee Hot Potato

Dan was talking this week about how real leaders do the right thing, even (or especially) when it means that you have to let a poor performer go. You all know that I’m a big believer in job fit. Finding a role that leverages your strengths is critical for success. For some, finding the right role can be a process of trial and error, using our failures to course correct is a part of personal growth. Sometimes coaching and role adjustment can turn a lack-luster performer into a star. But we all know that there are times when the problem is not just job fit, it is job attitude.

When an individual has a negative attitude you are dealing with a cancer that impacts the whole team. It is the job of the manager to resolve the situation quickly and fairly. Too often, weak managers resolve their situation by creating an employee hot potato. These disgruntled employees find themselves sharing (and often compounding) their negative attitudes across multiple groups as they bounce from manager to manager, each too weak to take action.

Moving performance problems around the organization is one of the worst kinds of management cop-outs. It is not honest for the individual, and it is not good for the company. It is not leadership, it’s cowardly.

I am well aware that the process of resolving performance problems takes considered thought and diligence. Even when attempting to do the right thing, it is often not black and white. We all want to make sure we have given enough chances to the employee and have done our best to coach them to improvement. I would not want anyone to take this process lightly. I would just like to encourage you all to make sure you are honest with yourselves that you are not perpetuating performance problems in other groups because you are too lazy to deal with them yourself.

If you are not sure, get help from your HR team. HR professionals can support you through the tough job of coaching the team member to acceptable performance or terminating. It is the role of HR to make sure that the process is fair for the employee, the impacted team, and the company.

Repeat after me, no more employee hot potatoes!


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

What is Your Unique Value to Your Organization?

If I asked you what is your unique value to your organization, do you have an immediate and compelling answer? What if I asked your boss? Your peers?

I am sure you are all aware of the market conditions today and that many people have found their companies rebalancing the level of human capital at the expense of their employment. We all find ourselves in that interesting limbo wondering how close to home this trend is going to get. Will it impact us? Our spouse? Our neighbors? Many of us find ourselves stressed, others want to find a place to hide.

My question is, are you doing something about it? Are you following the lead of Steve and attempting to use this as an opportunity or are you just hoping to survive? 

So back to my question, what unique value do you bring to your company? If you can’t find an interesting and obvious answer, you might want to find someone who can help you figure it out (and quickly). If you aren’t excited enough about the value you bring to your organization, how can you expect them to be excited? Similar to my promotion rant, I hold firmly to the belief that you are responsible for your own career. Now is the time to bring the A-game.

After you have determined the answer to my question, you should go immediately and confirm it with your boss. Solicit her help in crafting your tag line. Next, check with your peers. Think about how you are applying this value to the benefit to the company. Are you doing enough? How can you challenge yourself to do better?

Why? Well, I guess it’s really about the scout motto. If this exercise only served to get better alignment of your role with your abilities, then you can consider it a win. BUT, if you do find yourself needing to look for a new job, you will be much better prepared to know what you are looking for and why they should hire you. 

Competition is heating up, use this as an opportunity or you will have missed a good one.


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Great Strategists Rock my World

I’ve been thinking on this topic off and on for some time trying to figure out how to write such a post and not seem like a complete butt kisser*. I have since realized that I’m cool with kissing butt when it’s called for, so I took that constraint off and wrote the post anyway.

As luck would have it, I’m in a very fortunate situation having an awesome strategist to work with. I seem to be very lucky in this regard in that this is not the first time this has happened. I consider a strong, smart strategist the most important thing to be successful in a development role. Why? Well quite simply, you can never build every cool idea you have. Being able to find the right set of priorities separates the men from the boys (as it were). 

The single most important thing [for me], in a strategist is when they “call it.” When they see around the corner where I cannot and help convince me which way to go. The bigger the idea, the more foresight, the better. Being able to get to market with something that is innovative is a huge rush for us nerds. 

I have mentioned before that I’m not really an innovator myself, I’m a problem solver. Being pointed in the direction of the right problems is critical when this is your weakness. 

The question is, how do you find such a person? That’s tricky since you have to be able to trust someone who knows things you don’t. Looking into their past track record is useful but finding someone you respect is paramount. 

So here’s to all the great strategists out there — you really do rock my world. For the combination of a great development team and an insightful strategist is really unstoppable.


*My attempt to use non-offensive language has taken me to unchartered territory, as those of you who know me will attest. That said, I’ve recently learned that my 3-year-old can spell the word b-u-t-t (thanks to her sister) so it has re-entered my vocabulary this week, if only to say “we don’t need to talk like that.”


This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

Managers, the Weak Link of a Talent Strategy

I’ve been noodling for some time on the role of managers in a talent strategy. Specifically, how they can seriously screw it up. Being a manager myself, I understand that I’m violating the glass house principle, but you know that hasn’t stopped me before.

Let’s take an easy example to prove my point. Let’s say that your goal as an organization is to develop and engage talent. Seems that as an HR organization, you would focus your energies on building individual development programs and follow up on employee engagement surveys, right?

Sure, but how does that actually work when you have managers who won’t let their teams attend the training? How does any program provided by HR break past this group that is clearly motivated to horde talent? 

I’ve long been pondering the idea that for any talent strategy to really work you must first address the pivotal role of manager and find a way to align a manager’s personal goals with the overall talent strategy. 

I would love to hear of cases where companies have been able to effectively make this happen. Ideas? Experiences?

This blog was originally posted to TalentedApps.