James Joyce

The Genius of James Joyce

When life is perfectly imperfect, literature like the genius of James Joyce provides the perfect remedy and wisdom for the moment.  Life will always throw curve balls at us no matter how much we plan or how hard we work.  We will fall, we will make mistakes, but we must pick ourselves up and recreate life out of life.

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It certainly isn’t easy.  How can one expect someone, who is continuously marginalized to stay in their current role?  I love the quote from Joyce above about people trampling flowers to go embrace a cactus.  Too often people are enticed by the cactus or the sheep in wolf’s clothing over the flower.  It doesn’t make sense, but there is something in human nature that draws us to people who may hurt or disloyal to us versus those that our loyal.  Failing to recognize the people that have made an organization effective, while recognizing others is a death nail to a team.  Unfortunately, this could leave to the demise of an organization.

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At the end of the day, words are meaningless.  It is actions that speak volumes.  People have made numerous promises to me over my career, but promises mean nothing without action.   Once, after six years, someone made good on the promise they had made.   When giving me the good news, however, they lied.   They flat out lied.  Again words are meaningless.   When I speak to my employees about their futures,  I’m honest in my timelines and in setting expectations.  It isn’t always what they want to hear, but at least they know my word is good.

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Falling is optional, but rising back up is not.  So rise we must!  We have an obligation to ourselves to give our best each and everyday regardless of our circumstances.  If you’re in a situation where your continuously marginalized, then it is time to move on.

 

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Lean In

Time to Lean In

It is time to lean in ladies.  I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In along with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Can you tell?  As a leader in corporate America that happens to be female, I love the book.   Its amazing to me that in 2017, the struggles for women in business remain.   Misogyny in the workplace is a thorny, unpleasant issue, but we need to talk about it.

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When I first took on a leadership role,  my boss asked if I was willing to sacrifice time away from family and kids.  First of all, the question was a bit inappropriate.  My work speaks for itself and is never left unfinished.  Secondly, this questions was never asked to my my male counterparts.   In fact, they found it quite odd that I was.  This leads me to question if the fact that I’m a mom, a hockey mom at that, is an impediment to my career.  Is this something that those above me consider when succession planning?

I would argue that the question is inappropriate regardless of the gender of the person being asked.  A person’s work product and work ethic speak to their commitment to the company.  The worker’s life outside of the company is not germane to the conversation.

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There are number of stereotypes that inhibit women from closing the leadership gap in this country.  If a man gets emotional in a meeting, he is dubbed passionate.  In contrast If a women gets emotional in meeting, she is dubbed a train wreck.   If a man is aggressive, he is applauded.  Whereas If a women is aggressive, she is told to back off and stopped being so aggressive.

About a year ago, two male co-workers interrupted a conversation between me and my colleague a friend and I.  These leaders insisted my friend was not nearly as aggressive she needed to be to get things done.  On the other hand, they felt I was too aggressive.  I shut them down immediately.    They can’t have it both ways.

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What is my ideal workplace? It is an environment where I can work with my incredible team and have my contributions and my team’s contributions noted and appreciated.  In my ideal workplace, the thunder thief does not exist.   What do women want?  They want a seat at the table.  They want the ability to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way with a clear path to success.  In addition, women notice the way other women are treated in the organization. With each women whose contributions are minimized, with each women who is passed over; the women of the organization notice and see their path diminished.

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Finally, ladies this one is for you.  Mean girls belong in middle school, not in corporate America.  Name calling, manipulation and other middle school games have no place.   When we treat each other poorly, it opens the door to more mistreatment. Treat your fellow women with respect and support each other or go back to middle school.

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Mr. Kite

Mr. Kite

“For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline”
– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Admittedly, I’m enamored with the boys from Liverpool.  I couldn’t resist the Mr. Kite reference especially given the amazing Churchill quote I’m using tonight.  Last night I wrote about how my previous experiences with an awful boss informed how I lead my teams.  Tonight, I want to expand upon last night’s post.

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First, the Thunder Thief  is by far the most damaging and insidious type of horrible boss one can come across.  Equally important is the consideration that the thunder thief’s actions are not always deliberate.  As a leader, we must ensure we empower our people to tackle projects, accomplish goals with our support, but with autonomy.  It is equally important that the accomplishments of our direct reports are shared with our leaders.

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 There is nothing more demotivating than realizing that all of your hard work has been attributed to somebody else.  For women in the workplace, this is exponentially complex. According to HBR, women must promote their accomplishments in order to be recognized.  Ironically, self-promotion is consider unladylike and women who negotiate on their own our penalized.  Sheryl Sandberg also wrote about this phenomena in her best-selling book Lean In.

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One of the buzz words your see thrown out  way too often lately  in politics or the workplace is optics.  Here’s the thing about optics, they’re far more important than we realize.  Optics are all about how people perceive and action or event.  At the end of the day, perception is reality.  For example, let’s say you strive to have a diverse team, but your senior leadership team is only male or only white.  Consequently, you have create the perception that there is no commitment to diversity.

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Finally, do not forget that things come out in the wash.   Maybe today wasn’t your day, but ultimately the creme will rise to the top.  As Churchill so eloquently said, “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”  The road to success will not always be free of bumps or free of jerks, but perseverance, hard work, honesty and quality of work will ultimately prevail.