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Strong Enough for a Man, but Made for a Woman: Leadership Development and Style

Joseph Heller's Catch 22 was one of my favorite books I read in high school. It's a satire of the craziness of war and the phrase ‘catch 22,' meaning being caught in a no-win situation, came from the novel. "Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them," it reads. "If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to." This epitomizes female executives' leadership progress.

Jean Lau Chin wrote in her Forum on Public Policy Online article, "Women and Leadership: Transforming Visions and Current Contexts," that women are stuck in a Catch-22. Assertive behavior from women is frowned upon but not being assertive only lead to being ignored. "Contradictory portrayals of women leaders pose obstacles to how they lead, and often result in different standards than those applied to men. Women leaders are alternately portrayed as ‘soft and ineffective' or ‘domineering and manipulative,'" she wrote. Definitely sounds familiar to me and I'm sure some of you reading this.

Fortunately modern leadership trends tend more toward women's collaborative in nature. Chin noted that their collaborative skills are "increasingly central to views of effective leadership." A variety of contemporary leadership theories, she contended, could help to mitigate unintentional discrimination, including:
• Contingency or situational leadership theory is based upon the idea that various situations require different types of leadership;
• Shared leadership and empowerment; and
• Transformational leadership that is more value driven, ethics based and social change oriented leadership.

Appropriate leadership development can help women progress into leadership positions and be successful when they reach them. Robyn Ely, Herminia Ibarra and Deborah Kolb wrote in, "Taking Gender Into Account: Theory and Design for Women's Leadership Development Programs," that women's career trajectories were not on par with the men's among graduates of top business schools. Females' advancement in their careers has even slowed in recent years, they wrote. So the group set out to design training programs that don't merely "fix the women" so they can play the men's game, but also provide women the tools to do the "identity work" to become true leaders. Developing a leader identity involves internalizing the leader identity and developing an elevated sense of purpose for the work your organization is doing.

Women naturally seek to be authentic, which may not align with what is necessary to become leaders. Women prefer substantive careers and that can run counter to becoming the professional they can be. Ely and her associates recommended investing time and effort into strong 360-degree feedback and coaching to help women executives see how they are viewed by their bosses, colleagues and subordinates. Ely reported that many who had gone through this process were shocked at how low they were ranked by executives. After letting that settle, then the women are advised on how to improve their performance or better promote the work they really are performing.
What do you think? Are you willing to submit to this type of review, or is it just crazy?

 

 

By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Credit Union Times

 

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society, Member Discussions

MissRepresentation

During the International Women's Week I had an opportunity to attend a screening of a Sundance Film Festival documentary called "MissRepresentation". While media is the focus of the film I struggle to solely lay the blame with them for how women are presented in the media. 

 Servus Women's Network is interested in holding it's own screening for our network members and I'd be interested in hearing from others who have viewed this film. 

Lean In: Controversial or Conclusive?

As female leaders in the corporate world, I'm sure Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In, has caught your attention. Whether or not you agree with it, this book by the female COO of Facebook is receiving a great deal of hype and is certainly relevant to our Network's goals.

If you have not had a chance to read the book, I will start with a brief summary. Lean In is the expansion of a message Sandberg introduced during the TED talk she gave back in 2010, titled "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders." Her presentation of data from all over the globe proves one point- women are not occupying an equal amount of top leadership positions to men in ANY field in ANY country. This extends to politics, the corporate world, nonprofits, and other fields. Although women have climbed in numbers in most sectors since the 1960's, their figures have stagnated in the last ten years and some are even decreasing. She highlights prejudices society still holds against women in the workforce and the ways in which women may also hold themselves back. To combat these problems, Sandberg proposes several ways women can change their approach, including "Sit at the table," "Make your partner a real partner," and "Don't leave before you leave." "Sit at the table" refers to women taking what is theirs and believing that they have what it takes to move up in the company, because "no one gets to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines." She points out that, according to statistics, women systematically underestimate their abilities while men tend to overestimate theirs. She thinks that if women become more confident in themselves, there will eventually be more of them at the top. Referring to "make your partner a real partner," she states that in order for it to become easier and more acceptable for women to rise to the "C level" jobs, it will have to become more acceptable for men to become "stay-at-home dads" as well. Working mothers currently spend significantly more time doing household chores and rearing their children than their male partners do, and a more 50/50 arrangement between couples would help keep women in the workforce. Finally, she talks about "not leaving before you leave," which refers to not leaving "the game" mentally before you actually need to leave for a child. This means that women who may be planning to get married or have a child at some point in the future should not pass up opportunities in anticipation of these life changes, but should "lean in" instead. By "leaning in," a woman can seize valuable career opportunities that will raise her income and make her job more challenging, which will in turn make it more likely that she will return to the workforce afterward.

After her book was released, I noticed a barrage of opinion articles by women with negative reactions to Sandberg's message, mostly on the grounds that it is "irrelevant" to the majority of women. Many decry the fact that she is a millionaire who can obviously afford to pay for childcare, unlike many women in the workforce. Others say she isn't relatable because she assumes most women have a "partner" to make into a "real partner," which many women don't. Still others have said that she is warping the feminist cause by shifting the blame for low numbers of women at top levels to women themselves instead of society. Some have compared her book to "The Feminine Mystique" in the sense that it only relates to a small, affluent part of the population.

For all the scorn she has received from opinion columns on Fox News, Forbes, and others, I believe there are certain axioms from her speech and book that transcend race, income level, and marital status. To dismiss her point of view as unique to only her life situation is truly a shame. When a male business mogul writes a book about how to become successful, it is hardly thinkable that men would discard his ideas simply because they are not relevant to every single type of man. Sheryl openly admits that her advice is not suitable for everyone and that the workforce isn't the right place for every woman, but she has many suggestions for those who choose to stay. I take issue with the fact that people say she blames women for their own misfortunes. Her aim is to empower us in our professional lives by asking us to own our strengths and successes more forcefully. She relies heavily on data in her speeches so she can highlight the fact that that gender bias still exists in our society but that there are ways women may better equip themselves to overcome it. Sandberg believes that having more women in charge would make the world a more equal place and would very much like to see this happen through a change in attitudes toward gender roles.

As I listened to the TED talk and skimmed her book, I could not help but think about the Global Women's Leadership Network's mission. Utilizing Sandberg's ideas could build women up and cause our Network could expand greatly. What are your thoughts on Lean In's message? Would you apply it in your own credit union or cooperative? If so, how?

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Financial/Risk Management, Impact of Women in Society, Internal Operations

Join our Linkedin group!

The Network is happy to announce that we now have a group profile on LinkedIn. You can search for us under "Global Women's Leadership Network (World Council of Credit Unions)" or click here to see our page. Please join the group and feel free to start discussions on our wall. We also invite you to share the group with other women leaders in the credit union industry. Non-members are welcome!

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Community Outreach, CU Boards / Volunteers, Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members, Events, Facilitating Greater Access to CUs Worldwide, Financial/Risk Management, Growing CU Market Share, Impact of Women in Society, Internal Operations, Marketing, Member Discussions, Member Service, Networking, Program Updates, Regulatory Issues, Technology

Cast a Wider Net in Networking

Women are good at networking with other women. Perhaps it's because they're more comfortable. The problem is that women are limiting their professional growth opportunities because, as we all know, women do not comprise the majority of top-level executives. That's not to say that women's groups don't have their place, but networking must necessarily extend beyond them.


Career Development International published a case study in 2011 that studied the impact of women's networks on participants' careers and the executives at the organization. They preface that report, stating that very little research has been done regarding the actual impact of women's networks on organizations. However, it did cite previous research stating, "The success or failure of these efforts is dependent on how they are perceived by organizational members-both men and women."


When studying organized networks intended to help promote diversity, the CDI article found very different viewpoints between what the members expected from the group and how executive management viewed it. Both sides saw it as a way to increase women in leadership in the case study. However, the executives, only one of whom was a woman, viewed it primarily as a mentoring vehicle and promoting diversity; the female group members looked at the women's network as strategic opportunity for the company that would benefit the bottom line, in addition to networking.


Women network differently than men, which impacts their careers. According to the article, women's networks tend to be smaller groups with stronger bonds and more homogenous than men's networks. Men's networking is a mile wide and an inch deep, but it serves the purpose of helping them advance professionally because they hear about opportunities and come into contact with a lot of people. Women also have more women in their networks, and because women are less visible at the upper levels of management, they have fewer opportunities to meet informally with top executives. The proverbial good old boys' club comes into play when they talk business on hunting trips or over cigars.


Women and Leadership: Closing the Gender Gap, published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring, cited a presentation during an Oxford Brookes University conference which suggested that informal influencing networks might be more useful that straight networking. The idea is to align with like-minded colleagues who will help push your goal forward, creating an "influencing path" based on who's trusted by key players.


Female executives must recognize the importance of possessing the right kind of connections, as well as broader networks. At the same time, male executives should think to expand their horizons beyond the hunting lodge or golf course. As women will naturally become a larger part of senior management, it's crucial to everyone to ensure well-rounded networking for all.

 

 Sarah Snell Cooke

By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Credit Union Times

 

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Networking

PBS Special on Women

 

In honor of International Women's Day, we would like to alert you to the fact that PBS aired a special last week on "Women who Make America," which is available online at this link.

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, Impact of Women in Society

6 Secrets of How Successful Women Lead

 

Two authors look beyond the stereotypes to examine the research-based evidence about the leadership traits women possess. (Psst: They lead straight to success.)

 

 

Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv


In the era of post-post-feminism, let's just admit it: Men and women are--or at least can be--different in certain ways. And some of those ways show up at the workplace. Some even show up in the C-suite. So, let's take the time to ponder how that, well, works.

To put it simply: Do women lead differently?

According to Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson, the answer is an uniquivocal yes. What's more interesting, though, is that they believe that leadership by a woman tends to yield very desirable results--including better odds of business profitability and creation of more businesses that are fundamentally creative and innovative.

For two decades, Hadary, the founding executive director of the Center for Women's Business Research, and Henderson, founder of Prospect Associates, a $20-million health communications and biomedical research firm, have been conducting research on women in leadership roles. What they confirmed is that the women leaders with multi-million-dollar businesses combine their unique feminine leadership with sound business acumen to achieve their highest aspirations.

In their recent book, How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know, the authors also cite the latest academic research affirming that women's leadership styles are condusive to success. (For instance, MIT found that the most creative and productive groups included women. Also, Pepperdine University reported that businesses with more women in leadership reported higher financial results than those with fewer women leaders.)

Hadary and Henderson offer these success strategies for leaders who wish to maximize their strengths with solid business acumen to become a high-potential leader.

1. Own Your Destiny--and Judge Yourself Only by Your Own Metrics

One fascinating fact illuminated by this recent research is that women who achieve most are also women who define success in their own terms and integrate achieving high financial goals with creating a business that reflects their passions. Their businesses provide socially responsible products and services, offer opportunities for employees to thrive, make a positive difference in the community, and simultaneously create personal wealth for the owner.

Successful entrepreneurs establish high goals and when they achieve their goals, they move the bar even higher.

"Women should think of their businesses as a $1 million business from Day One," says Henderson. "This drives how they structure the business, the decisions they make, and the way they present themselves and the business."

2. Lead Like a Woman

Highly successful women are likely to build on their leadership strengths of collaboration, inclusion, and consultation. The result within a company is a culture where everyone's ideas and insights are heard and considered in making decisions and where people feel valued and, therefore, are committed to achieving organizational goals.

There's something else that seems to be specific to women's leadership styles: Women think more holistically. That means, when women view a situation, they have a tendency go beyond the specific facts and the numbers to take into account personnel and organization considerations. As a result, they identify opportunities, risks, and gaps that others often miss, strengthening their competitive edge.

3. Numbers Tell Stories. Become a Translator of These

Never undermine your credibility as a businesswoman by opening a discussion with a statement about your lack of business acumen. Learn about finance and speak about it in its own language. The women business owners and leaders with the largest, fastest-growing organizations produce more financial reports more frequently than those with slower growing businesses. They identify the key metrics that give them the insights they need and embrace financial knowledge as a major part of their strategic decision-making.

4. Build Exceptional Teams

Hire the best from the very beginning and avoid the common mistake of hiring executives from a large company. You need leaders who can work effectively in a fast-moving, entrepreneurial organization. These are people who have the ability to commit to a bigger cause and possess values congruent with yours, curiosity and critical thinking skills, common sense, people and relationship skills, risk taking skills, and respect, admiration, and tolerance for the entrepreneur. Hiring to these characteristics will result in a team that can identify and implement solutions to the evolving challenges of the entrepreneurial business.

5. Nurture Your Greatest Asset: You

Avoid becoming so caught up in your work you cannot see the world around you. Focus on integrating all aspects of your life and treat your time and energy as scarce resources--as scarce and valuable as any item in your budget. Establish priorities based on your values and goals and use them to make decisions about accepting requests for your time.

The most successful leaders are life-long learners. Set aside time to attend conferences and seminars, read, participate in networks that provide industry knowledge, and meet with experts. Don't forget to complement your professional networks with personal networks of friends, like-minded women, and colleagues who will share experiences and knowledge, support you in the tough times, and celebrate with you over successes.

6. Celebrate the Journey

Recognize that success is not a one-time shot. It is about composing a life over time. Take the time to enjoy the journey and celebrate the successes along the way.

Stay open to serendipity--the joys and opportunities that appear unexpectedly in life--whether at work or in your personal life. Beware of missing or dismissing these opportunities because you are so focused on your day-to-day plan. Be open to saying: "Yes, let's try it and see where it leads."----Marla Tabaka

To read the original article, click here.
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Financial/Risk Management

International Women's Day

What did your Credit Union do to celebrate International Women's Day??

 At Servus Credit Union in Alberta Canada, the Servus Women's Network held a lunch and learn for all of our network members to commemorate this occasion. We had approximately 85 employees comprised of Men and Women who attended this event. Our guest speaker was our Chief Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Gail Stepanik-Keber. The presentation shared valuable information and statistics on how Women reshape the business world. The event was well received and employees are looking forward to many more valuable presentations and networking sessions in the future.

 I also had the opportunity to attend 2 external International Women's Day events in my home town of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The first event I attended was a screening of a Sundance Film Festival documentary called "MissRepresentation". This is a must see film for women and men of all ages. The content is US based however provided thought provoking information on how social media effects the behavior and development of our society. Here is the link to preview the film: missrepresentation.org

The second external event was a fundraiser called "The 1000 Women, A Million Possibilities".  This movement is managed by community members working together to maximize the potential of college students for the benefit of our city, province and world.

I curious to see how other women across the world celebrated this special day. Please share your experiences as the Servus Women's Network would like to explore ideas for events for our organization throughout the year.

Thanks!

Tags
Events, Impact of Women in Society

Ladies, Get Ahold of Yourself

When you hear the phrase ‘emotional intelligence,' my biased, knee-jerk reaction is that women are superior. However, when you dig down into what comprises emotional intelligence, they aren't necessarily.

In the article, "The Emotional Intelligence of Leaders" that appeared in the publication Leader to Leader, Daniel Goleman outlines five dimensions (cue Aquarius) of leaders: Self-awareness, manage emotions, exhibit optimism, show empathy, and stay connected.

Somehow when society shifted from hunting and gathering to a formal work place, the philosophy followed that personal stuff stays at home. No emotions at work. The truth is that's impossible. Whether you've got a big report due for the board or you're having difficulty finding the right person to fill a position, it causes stress, and humans respond-well or poorly-to stress. And these feelings trickle out to your team.

Men tend to get angry about their anxieties because they see it as a weakness, and men hate that. Their anger is conveyed overtly or in subtle ways. Women tend to become unsure of themselves and, thus the goal or the means to it. When a leader is unsure, that uncertainty affects her ability to lead people anywhere. And then there are the women who try to play 'like the men.'

Being tuned in and accepting what your feeling allows you to slow down, consider what's going on, the environment and the ramifications. You feel in control, and so you're optimistic that even if something isn't going as planned, you can adapt to change the outcome. You don't berate or blame others; you just find a solution or scrap the project as necessary.
I participated in a very intriguing LinkedIn discussion in a professional women's group asking whether participants preferred male or female bosses. The comments I read were heavily weighted toward preferring male bosses. Huh?

Maybe women aren't as emotionally evolved as they think. Many of the commenters described the cattiness of their female bosses. Perhaps the female bosses were feeling threatened by the up-and-coming talent, and after all they'd worked for, they weren't going to be shown up by the young blond in the slightly short skirt.

This is not a game we should be playing because no one's going to win. Your people make you look good, so let them shine, male or female. Keep them engaged and be engaged in what you're doing. If you're doing that, 1) you're not going to be threatened, and 2) hope that you've cultivated a loyalty there that can serve your business, and even you personally.

Sarah Snell Cooke 

By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Credit Union Times 

Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Impact of Women in Society, Internal Operations, Networking

Adhere to Your Femininity

Mais oui, ze French-or more precisely Societe Generale, a French bank-began offering a pink and gold credit card called "Pour Elle," complete with handbag insurance and handyman assistance. It vows to "simplify" women's lives and an article written about it quotes a bank spokesperson saying it targets "those who wish to adhere to their femininity."

Their clientele seems very hi-end so it might work for them but the very idea among commoners like me portrays women as helpless-one might even say hopeless. Women are influential cogs in the economy and marketing to a target audience can be good, but personally I am now finding it tough to keep lunch down. (I'm sorry, was that not ladylike?)

Women can be a powerful force in the workplace, too, and remain feminine. I'm not talking about the old days of low-cut blouses and tight skirts, but truth be told women can get away with a lot more than men in the wardrobe department. Look at attention-grabbing garb of someone like CO-OP's Sarah Canepa Bang. Not everyone can pull her style off but you know when she enters a room.

I couldn't get away with it but there are subtler ways of parting the pinstriped seas while adhering to your femininity. The thing about your professional femininity is it's how you define it and want to project it. Many times we do feel the pressure to conform in this man's world, whether to what the way they behave or the way they think (or we think they think) women should behave.

Women can and should assert themselves more. Women are less likely to negotiate for compensation and benefits, which can do great damage to your personal and financial well being over time. Know your priorities, whether they're financial or extra time off or other benefits, before entering the room, and don't leave until you're satisfied that they've all been addressed if not necessarily adopted.

Women are less apt to continue pushing an idea for a product or service or process after hearing ‘no' from on high. Pick your battles, but if you've done your research and know this will be beneficial to your business then wait a while and bring it up again. The worst that will likely happen is you'll be told no again. If you're idea is accepted and successful refer back to the last paragraph, but if you don't support a project you believe in, you won't have the opportunity at review time to say look what revenue or savings I've brought to this organization.

I've also heard the statistic from executive consultant Holly Herman (I don't recall the original source) that women won't apply for a job to move up a level unless they know they can already do 80% of it while men will apply for jobs they think they can handle 40% of. That's the kind of confidence women need to succeed and succeed even faster. Know the basics and quickly muddle your way through the rest until you know that, too.

Even something as simple as offering a firm handshake can go a long way (but do it femininely so you don't chip your nails). These behaviors aren't unfeminine. Make them your feminine, because we don't need our lives simplified with purse insurance. And, if you own a purse that needs insuring, 1) your life's already too complicated and 2) you can afford to hire your own handyman.

By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Credit Union Times
Tags
Challenges Facing Women in Leadership Positions, CU Boards / Volunteers, Engaging the Next Generation of CU Members, Impact of Women in Society, Member Service, Networking
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