On Leadership with Gender Bias, Racism, Equality and All That…

gender equality

Sunday night I watched the 60 Minutes piece (yes, by the way, this is still a Sunday night habit since I was about 8 years old) featuring Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce being incredibly transparent and honest about what he discovered at his very cool company regarding gender disparity.

Please go watch the piece here.

Secondly, this weekend we watched a grave Starbucks error in judgement with the arrest of two black patrons who were doing nothing white patrons don’t do every day, and the company’s slightly slow and tepid response. I was frankly, looking for a little more anger here from CEO Kevin Johnson.

Continue reading

A Case for Getting Control of Your Mornings – Mindfulness: Part 2

mindful mornings

I’ve had multiple phases of my life and they all went better when I had a routine for good mornings; I think I learned this from my mom’s example. In fact, I was with her last weekend and asked her about her mornings, and she (who spends a good deal of time with my dad who is mostly bed-ridden) significantly said, “Well, I have a morning routine. I just have to do that.”

She’s 83, so I pay attention.

Whether you’re getting kids up and ready, responsible for meal prep, focused on exercise, or caring for pets, all of it can be disruptive, chaotic, and utterly challenging; and then by the time you start your workday, you’re just glad to be sitting down.  Productivity may be mid-morning or worse.

Continue reading

A Case for Getting Control of Your Mornings: Part 1

productive mornings

When you’re growing up, a school morning goes something like this:

  • Mom (or alarm) wakes you up at a reasonable time to get ready without rushing
  • You roll back over, complain about how early it is and bargain for more time
  • Repeat
  • At the last possible minute, you crawl out of bed
  • Find something to wear, often it’s in the dirty laundry, so you settle for what is on the floor
  • Can’t find socks; lose 7 minutes looking; ultimately you wear different shoes to compensate
  • Eat half a bowl of cereal, rushing with mom’s warnings of the impending bus arrival
  • Brush teeth (on a good day) for about 10 seconds; hear bus at neighbors
  • Look for homework; realize it’s down in the basement; you start yelling at your mom to get it for you or you’ll miss the bus
  • Fly out the door as the bus is honking, realizing you never combed your hair; thank god for a hair tie in your backpack.

I’m amazed to find out how many working adults mornings have not changed much from the above. Add in their own kids, finding the car keys, feeding the dog, and the scene is still rushed chaos, though the teeth get brushed for a little longer.

A rushed, disorganized morning robs you and your company of at least an hour of productivity when arriving and perhaps even much of your day. Why? It’s pretty simple: mind frame.

Let’s take a look at two people – one who has the morning above and one who gets up a little earlier (often meaning to bed a little earlier), or – for those who aren’t early risers, does some simple things to prep for their day the night before.

By start-time, the morning rusher needs to do the following things to get to productivity:

  • Grab coffee
  • Eat something, often at their desk
  • Do something to clear their head: read some news, talk to coworkers, put on some music
  • Think about what they are doing about dinner that night; this may involve texting the spouse or roommate to plan
  • Realize they don’t have a lunch and stress about eating out again
  • And so on

All of that can take up to an hour of mental time, leaving the morning rusher behind, unfocused, and unprepared for the day. All it takes to put this person on the skids for a bad day is something unexpected that hits them sometime in that first hour; a client call, an employee or coworker needing input now, an issue that must be addressed right away, or a forgotten early morning meeting.

Leaders know this doesn’t work. And what’s more, they’ve learned that no matter if they are night owls or naturally early risers (we have one of each at my house), there is nothing more important to the success of their day than how it begins.

It’s obvious to most around you how you start your day. And those who will lead will stand out just by having a few things in order by the time they hit the door. Fed, rested, and mentally prepared.

Mind frame.

There are many blogs and articles written about fist-pumping mornings; Elon Musk gets up at 4am. And the morning rushers read these, realize they are never going to invent people moving tunnels or build rockets and roll back over.

I’m glad for inventors like Elon who get up at 4am because they are genetically wired to do so. But for the rest of us, I’m offering up a pretty simple idea for greater success at work, which we all need.

Get control of the morning.

If you are even remotely still getting up at the last moment like a school kid, rushing through the morning, and sliding in the door hungry and frustrated, consider a better way. Wondering why you aren’t being tapped for the projects you want? Asked for help from those you work with? Treated like one of the adults in the room? Or just feeling like you’re in a rut at work?

Get control of the morning.

So for all of us not sending rockets to the moon, stay tuned for part 2 of “A Case for Getting Control of Your Mornings” as I’ll be sharing my favorite morning tips to lead you into each new day with zest.

 

Seek a Balanced Life, Not A Perfect One

balanced life

The day started like many others; awoke with my disciplined husband, pulling on sweats and promptly out the door for the 4-mile fast walk. Today, out of cold brew at home meant a stop at the coffee shop where we sat for a little longer than usual sipping iced lattes.

On the walk we talked about the future, balance in our lives and what we think we want our lives to look like.

Continue reading

Looking for a Change? It’s All About Taking Action

take action toward dreams

It’s easy to talk about what we think and feel and how we believe we should do something differently.

We have all said things like, “I want to be a writer,” or “I want to learn a new language” or even, “Our country is headed in a direction that I don’t like, why don’t they do something?” but it all means little until there is action.

Continue reading

Tired Much? Stop and Listen to Your Body

tried entrepreneur

Ever notice how we don’t see articles about entrepreneurs and professionals being tired?

Instead, we hear about the geniuses like Elon Musk who do two things at a time (like juggle a child on his knee while answering email), or existing on four or five hours sleep.

But fatigue? We just don’t talk about it. We’re all about psyching up, charging to full capacity, caffeine buzzed, and onward and upward. But here’s the thing: we all get tired. And yet somehow, rest or naps are translated to laziness. We’re presented with stories of leaders who we’re supposed to believe have super powers and never wear out.

Continue reading

How to Win Your Weekends and Head into the Workweek with Peace and Clarity

“What are you doing this weekend?”

Don’t know yet?

If you’re like me, your answer runs the gamut of shouting, “Nothing! I need to chill!” to having a full-on list of everything that got neglected during your busy workweek.

Because let’s face it, you’re killing it during the workweek, boasting no shortage of lists, bullet journals, and meetings; check it off, and boom, boom, boom, you’re a master of productivity.

Continue reading

The Future is Female, and I’m Here to Help Push That Reality

future is female

I’m a little pissed off.

But you see, I’m not an angry person – I’ve been called bitchy or bossy before (which I don’t mind), but not angry.

After raising my three girls in what I thought was a post-feminist era, having the good fortune to enter the tech field in the late nineties with a group of men and women who worked together without barriers, now – now in the 21st century, I’ve been awakened again to the ugly reality of sexism’s far reaching tentacles and finding out that we’re not where I thought we were.

Continue reading

Reflecting on #TeamWeek

It’s a pretty usual Monday morning – waking up to the weekly routine (6am power walk followed by coffee and digging in to the week’s plan, emails, and daily focus time) – except it’s not. I’m wanting to hold onto last week a little longer and savor the yumminess.

bldg313Nope, wasn’t vacation. And though we did win a contract (always worth savoring) – it’s not that. Last week was my brainchild for holding the team together spread out by miles, trying to maintain the level of teamwork, collaboration and intentional strong culture we need to succeed and thrive – #TeamWeek.

Continue reading

Women in leadership – diversity yields dividends

Guest post from Kim Villenueve in Women in Leadership Network. Originally posted on Vistage. 

The call for greater diversity at senior leadership levels is not new, although it has itself become more inclusive, extending beyond gender, race and ethnicity, to encompass age, education, socioeconomic background and sexual orientation, as well as experience, skills and talent.

It is also not news that diversifying leadership teams can pay financial dividends for corporations. As early as 2004, research by Catalyst, Inc. showed a significant positive correlation between financial performance and female representation at the executive level[i] with female Board representation having an even stronger effect.

Most recently, a new international study by McKinsey & Co.[ii] showed that companies with gender diverse leadership are 15% more likely to report financial returns above their national industry median, while those with ethnically diverse leadership were 35% more likely to have financial returns that outpace their industry.  Sadly, none of the 366 public companies surveyed stood out as leaders on both gender and ethnic diversity axis together.

In spite of the long-established case for balancing executive teams, the C-Suite has remained stubbornly homogeneous. Only 4.6% of chief executives of S&P 500 companies are women, and there are just six black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies currently.[iii] Progress has been made, but slowly and inconsistently. In their recent study mentioned above, for example, McKinsey & Co. notes that women now represent about 16% of executive teams in U.S. companies overall, calling that “measurable progress” but acknowledging that women remain underrepresented at senior levels globally.

Picking up the pace

Is this glacial pace of change in senior leadership team composition due to entrenched discrimination? Not necessarily, according to a diversity discussion panel at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.[iv] Their consensus is that a lack of diversity in executive teams is less about overt discrimination than it is about unconscious biases toward affinity: people tend to hire people like themselves. If an executive team has traditionally been composed of a particular demographic, shifting the team’s composition will require a conscious effort by all members to acknowledge and challenge assumptions about gender, race, nationality, background or age so as to embrace a different profile.

Successfully challenging unconscious biases may require the independent perspective of a third party, such as an executive coach, who can observe and call attention to them in a constructive manner, while supporting subsequent behavioral change.

As leadership teams become more diverse their networks will naturally expand, however access to broader networks in order to identify and recruit top caliber diverse candidates will be a challenge initially. Partnering with an executive search team that has a track record of success in securing high quality, diverse candidates can provide much-needed traction in this area, while collaborative leadership consulting can be an effective tool to help develop synergy and effectively integrate the new executive into the team.

Moving the needle: Strategies for success

Here are four steps to accelerate the diversification of your executive team:

  1. Intentionally diversify your team through succession planning and targeted search
  2. Address unconscious bias in the search and selection process through coaching and dialogue
  3. Look for a track record of building inclusive cultures when evaluating executives you’d like to attract to your organization
  4. Create synergy with incumbent team members prior to, and through, effective onboarding of new hires who represent different perspectives

McKinsey & Co. note that the positive financial impact of gender diversity for American businesses only kicks in after “women constitute at least 22% of a senior executive team.’’ It can be safely assumed, then, that there is also a critical mass for ethnic and other underrepresented populations with regard to financial impact. The companies who are first to achieve that critical mass may reap the rewards in the form of significantly accelerated competitive advantage. Diversity in the C-Suite is no longer a business requirement—it is an imperative.

This article was adapted for Vistage from Centerstone Executive Search. Dr. Kim Villeneuve is CEO of Centerstone Executive Search & Consulting, a nationally retained firm providing executive-level search and leadership consulting to the consumer sector. Kim is also a coach for elite executives, an adjunct professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business, and guest lecturer at The George Washington University, from which she holds a doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning. Contact Kim at kim@centerstonesearch.com or at 425-836-8445.

[i] “The Bottom Line: Connecting Corporate Performance and Gender Diversity” January 15, 2004 Catalyst, Inc.

[ii] Why Diversity Matters” By Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince McKinsey, & Co. January 2015

[iii] “Is there a diversity dividend?” Linda Yueh, Chief Business Correspondent, BBC News January 25, 2015 http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30973184

[iv] World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, January 2015 http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2015/sessions/diversity-dividend