Weekly Blog Review

This past week we got to do some experiential learning and practice creative leadership in a safe and trusted group settings. We both facilitated and participated in guided exercises and we sought and provided personal feedback to our peers. Therefore the blog reviews I picked for this week reflect back on some of the questions posed and lessons learned from the group studies.

Firstly, my trusted and favorite leadership blog Seth Godin’s blog. Among the posts this week there were several thought provoking titles (all great reads):

One I especially loved was The confusion about competence and Five contributions. In five contributions Seth breaks down what he calls postures we take on as a leader, manager, salesperson, craftsperson and contributor. He talks about soft skills appropriate for each of these roles, or as he calls it postures. Interestingly enough I see skills and behaviors in all of the listed roles that I or others around me use on daily bases. And on the contrary I see those skills and behaviors neither others nor I use, but that we probably should.  Most importantly, when I look at this easy chart of personalities and roles I can easily identify when and why certain behaviors need to take precedent over others and when and why multiple personalities or roles need to play together to get best results.

I found the second and third post on Harvard Business Review. The two articles are called How to Excel at Both Strategy and Execution and Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise? Both articles essentially talk about the same thing, skill set and aptitude needed to be an effective and creative leader. The first exemplifies how Howard Schultz successfully led Starbucks to become a household name recognized globally as the “third” place a person goes to besides the home and their office. The article points out that leaders who have technical knowledge (only 8% of leaders in corporate america have been identified as such) have the ability to set the vision and strategy and lead through execution based on their in depth knowledge of the subject. Meaning those leaders are both visionaries and operators that can easily switch between two mindsets. They are able to bridge the gap and rally the troops around common goals on one side and result delivery on the other.

Personally, I struggle with push-backs from some I work with who still operate under the old school premises that you either set the vision or execute it (but some of them lack both, or most often one). During the feedback sessions I realized that some of my colleagues deal with same issues so I highly recommend both of the articles. The second article talks about success rate of those leaders who have technical skills in the given field. While technical skills alone won’t make a good leader they will help them be better at leading. The article points out another common misconception. Leaders who don’t have technical skills say that they will surround themselves with good people who have the requisite expertise that will allow them to make good decisions. However, the article points out that without the actual expertise in a given domain leaders don’t know where and how to find the right people to give them the right information. Nor can they cultivate a healthy environment that empowers experts, promotes appropriate training and succession.

The last post I wanted to focus on talks about Challenges Unique to the Entrepreneurial Woman. The article outlines the history of women’s shift from domesticity to workforce since the Colonial Age with highest peak during WWII when men were off fighting (with many women alongside them). In 2015 women owned 9 million firms, employed over 7 million people an generated more than $1 thrillion in sales! Despite the siginificant element of corporate influence, the modern day women still face challenges that stifle and hinder their rise in corporate world. The article identifies and explains the top 3 challenges women in the business world still face:

1)  Personality and behavior stereotypes – In a public consensus, women are still seen as weak, hypersensitive and more emotionally unstable compared to men.  These beliefs lead to gender discrimination toward women aiming to take on leadership roles.

2) Lack of professional role models – While there are many examples of successful businesswomen and leaders they are few and far between when it comes to finding mentors in accessible social circles other. There is a lack of business networking opportunities. So not only does general public and men discriminate against women, but we do it to ourselves too by not being more accessible and supportive of one another.

3) Where we stand now – The state of women’s rights in the Unites States (and around the world) seems to be an upward trend. There is a sense of awakening and ownership. Sadly,  many liberties are at stake. Therefore women are rising up and causing a wave of change on political scene and elsewhere. However, to persevere in the business world we women have to pursue our right to remain relevant by supporting one another and by challenging those stereotypes that hold us back. We have to raise our children, male and female to have an open societal mind and educate our partners and colleagues (leaders too) that the role and power women have in society and in business are the key to success and survival of generations to come.