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Extra! What You as a Manager can do to promote Women Leaders


Extra! What You as a Manager can do to promote Women Leaders

You heard it here first!

  1. The baby boomer generation is retiring,
  2. taking much of their hard-earned knowledge and experience with them,
  3. leaving leadership holes in organizations across the world.
  4. Oh, and women have been earning more college degrees than men since 2009.

Wait, this isn't the first time you're hearing it? Well, what are you waiting for, then?

3 Things to Consider if you're a Manager looking to fill Leadership positions with Women 

1. The Bitch Factor

Many women still think they're in competition with other women in the office. Like there are only a limited number of "good jobs" out there, and if you have one of them, fight tooth and nail to defend it and not let any other women rise. I think Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In* referred to it as the "Queen Bee" effect - there can only be one, and she's often seen as dominating her worker drones.

Couple of points to note

a) I'd argue women shouldn't be promoted to fill a quota or boost your PR - promote them because they're the most qualified and capable to take your teams and projects to the next level. Saves you legal hassles in the long run. And it order to promote objectively, you have to:

b) Keep your prejudices in check. Spend some conscious cortical real-estate on questioning your opinion of the women in your office, and if those opinions might be based on cultural programming, like "men = nice cool competent dude and ambitious leader", "woman = nurturing mother or horrible iron lady". It'll be a difficult cycle to break and it'll take time, but keep at it.

c) Create an environment where there's open communication and a sense of security and opportunity for more than one woman to rise.

2. Are there enough mentors and role models?

There are tons of women to look up to and be inspired by. They span all ages and industries. Just think Mother Theresa or Indira Gandhi, Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel, Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts, not to mention the women listed on Forbes' Most Powerful.

Still, I don't know about you, but they seem pretty far removed. Me, I like to know someone and have a closer relationship to help with the inspiration. Someone like the "elder" at my Toastmasters club, or the women stepping into those volunteer officer roles, or the new mentee who's just rearing to go give her first speech.

Can your top women spare an hour a month to hold luncheons? Or maybe an hour a quarter speaking to your local women's group?

Can you put practices in place where the top men mentor outstanding potential male and female talent? Doesn't have to be awkward between a senior man and an up-and-coming woman if mentoring is done during breakfast meetings instead of over dinner (another one of Lean In's brilliant practical suggestions).

3. Is your organization dynamic?

I heard somewhere that the way Congress was set up to work was people would go in for two years, give their input, and then go back home to their actual jobs. I love that idea of keeping things fresh and having people from many different walks of life represented. Must have been a logistical nightmare. Nowadays, with career politicians, of course, this is no longer the case. But I can't help but wonder if this would be an effective model for innovation and leadership development in a business.

Take a team of four men and four women, each with supporting staff as necessary, and rotate them through cycles of being the leader in charge. If you knew you'd have to count on the collaboration and support of someone two years down the line, how would that impact your attitude?

Ok, that's probably a pipe dream, but the larger point remains: does your organization have an internal job board, and are women's applications equally as encouraged as men's? I'll write some more about relocation concerns tomorrow, so I'll let you think about that for now. Looking forward to your comments!

* (affiliate link)

Image by Silecyra, Flickr, Creative Commons License.


Top 5 expat allegiance patterns


Top 5 expat allegiance patterns

Last week we talked about 6 successful expat characteristics. What about once they're on assignment? Black and Gregersen (1992) grouped them in the following five allegiance patterns.

"Hired Gun Free Agents" feel neither particularly committed to their home nor host country company, but are always open for newer and better job opportunities. They are hired international experts who might cost slightly less than a home country expatriate, but at the same time might leave the assignment on short notice if a better offer presents itself.

The "Plateaued-Career Free Agents," as the name implies, tend to not show high commitment to neither home nor host country due to their feeling of having reached a career plateau. They typically come from inside the home country and might be attracted by the financial package an overseas assignment entails, but do not see themselves achieving promotion in the home country.

In the case of an expatriate showing signs of "Going Native," the allegiance pattern shows high levels of commitment to the local operations but not to the parent company. These expatriates are able to identify strongly with the host country's culture, language and business practices. The parent company might be able to prevent "losing" an expatriate to the local operation, or indeed another company in that country, by establishing a mentor program. The mentor will be in the home country, keeping in close contact with the expatriate during his or her assignment and help them with finding a position upon repatriation.

Contrary to the previous pattern, expatriates can also leave their "Hearts at Home," feeling highly committed to the home country but not so much to the local operation. They will find it hard identifying with the host country's culture, language and business practices. "Hearts at home"rs tend to have lived and worked for the parent company a very long time and have strong ties. Their expat deal will be sweetened by using modern telecommunication, video conferencing, and regular home visits.

Probably the most desirable pattern is called "Dual Citizen." Expatriates falling into this category are highly committed to both home and host country operation and feel responsible for and comfortable with serving both "masters." It is interesting to note at this point that depending on the culture the expatriate is from, he or she might be culturally 'programmed' to be uncomfortable with having to obey two leaders.

Companies can help their expatriates become "dual citizens" by thoroughly preparing them for their assignment, giving them very clear objectives and a clear repatriation plan from the very beginning. Autonomy in how to achieve the objectives help the expatriate develop a flexibility that will make the assignment easier.

Black and Gregersen (1992) found "Dual Citizen"-expatriates to be less likely to end an assignment prematurely and to have a higher probability of staying with the firm after repatriation. They also concluded that the expectations, demands and objectives of the assignment can determine the form of commitment. If a "role conflict" occurs, it is hard for the expatriate to feel responsible for the outcomes and he or she will thus be less committed to either side of the company.

A similar effect can be witnessed with "role ambiguity." Hence a clear set of expectations and objectives as well as a clear repatriation plan are most important for the expatriate to feel safe and concentrate on a successful assignment. The authors found the "most powerful factor in creating dual allegiance" being "role discretion." The freedom to decide what has to be done how and when in order to achieve the objectives gives expats a sense of ownership and thus makes them feel responsible for their actions and the outcomes.

Any personal opinions and experiences you'd like to add? Thank you for leaving a comment!


Black, J. Stewart and Gregersen, Hal B. (1992) Serving two masters: Managing the dual allegiance of expatriate employees, Sloan Management Review, p61

Image by tiffini, flickr, Creative Commons license