Why leading differently may just be your job

I turned down a really big promotion.

My bosses job with far more money & global recognition.

Even though I’d been working my butt off to be considered!

Yet had a crisis of confidence, and self selected out before even negotiating.

Not understanding the Career Limiting Move this was – until much later.

Hindsight is 20:20 vision.

This gave me HUGE insight,

Into the way that many see their capability to carve out a different path.

Today, I work with women angling for promotions, raises & the recognition they deserve.

Frequently, they self select out way too soon.

Just because your boss was super stressed or struggled,

Doesn’t mean the same reality for you.

Vive la difference_Amanda_Blesing_ Best_Career_advice_women.jpg

Just because your boss led a certain way,

Doesn’t make it the only way to lead.

We all have different ways of operating.

  • Some good
  • Some great
  • Some that truly make a difference.

So instead of saying no straight up.

Give yourself a fighting chance.

Don’t let others dictate your story.

“I haven’t found myself constrained by the male models of leadership because I haven’t found them particularly inspiring, so why copy something you didn’t like?” ~ Ann Sherry AO, Carnival Australia

If feminine leadership truly is the way of the 21st Century,

Your job is to lead differently anyway.

Vive la difference!


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The key to inclusion in the gender diversity & inclusion game ....

We've all heard of the terms diversity and inclusion. But what do they really mean? Let me put it into context. 

Remember back to when you were a kid in school. Specifically when you were out on the oval suffering through being picked by the cool and sporty spice kids to be on the team (unless you were the cool and sporty kid yourself of course!).

I hear you!  I wasn't into team sports as a kid so that made me a lousy pick despite being relatively athletic and highly coordinated.  And it meant that I regularly had to suffer the indignity of wondering if this was the week when I'd face the humiliation of missing out or being last.

Diversity in this context would be the sporting captain picking a team of people with different strengths and weaknesses so that the team played better overall.  Not just going with those he or she liked, but understanding that this was for the benefit of the team's longer term performance so selecting for skills and attributes that were different to bolster the team overall..

Inclusion would have been to ensure that each of the skill sets and attributes selected for were equally valued  (the goal shooter no more or less valued than the centre or the wing defence). That even the kid chosen last felt as though they were part of the cool brigade, a valued contributor and equally able to participate in the direction of the team as anyone else. Late to the party didn't mean valued less.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.
— Sheryl Sandberg

In a business environment?

Diversity and inclusion in a business setting are not really different in my mind, except that the cool kids are still ruling the roost and the inclusion piece is still a long way off.

Yet there is mounting evidence purely for the business benefits of the cause including recent research demonstrating that companies with at least 30% female leadership adding as much as 6% to net margins. (Peterson Institute for International Economics 2017)

Diversity - where you have different types of people working in an organisation. In the gender diversity movement it means organisations who have an even spread of men and women throughout, at all levels. Equal numbers of women and men in support type functions. Equal numbers women and men in leadership and management type functions.

Inclusion is where the organisation adapts and changes to embrace and value the different thinking, different approaches and different ideas that will result from having more women in senior roles and more men in more enablement/optimisation functions. 

You can invite women to management roles, to the C-suite and to the Board room table. But unless you also create and drive a culture that treats women, their leadership style and their opinions with respect, until womens' contribution is welcomed and valued, and the incumbent is prepared to adapt and relish the opportunity to change and grow - you are quite simply missing the point.

  • Quotas and targets will drive gender diversity.
  • Inclusion is the key that unlocks the benefits (social, cultural, economic & business) that gender diversity brings. 

Both require self awareness, direct links to strategy and future focused leadership, along with role modelling from the top down. And none of us will reap the rewards until the inclusion piece is solved.

And as women are still 'leaning out' at the rate of knots, business, corporate and government are obviously still not getting the formula right.

There is one company in Australia who is doing this extremely well. Aurecon headed by Giam Swiegers is winning hands down in reaping the innovation benefits that diversity AND inclusion bring.  I'd love to see far more.

Feminine leadership superpowers  + inclusion = priceless

Vive la révolution!  #talentrevolution #ambitionrevolution

So has your organisation really embraced the whole 'inclusion' piece?  Or is there still a layer of 'permafrost' in upper middle and lower senior management who haven't got the memo yet? Drop me a line and let me know. 

And reach out if you want help with this.


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Stereotypes, advertising and being prepared to stand out

I like to describe myself as a proudly visible member of the most invisible segments of our society - older women.
— Cindy Gallop

As I begin to unpack the issue of visibility for women in leadership, I can't help but reflect on the advertising industry. Cindy Gallop, the British self described 'visible older woman' advertising industry executive quoted above, is an extremely vocal advocate of change. Change, not just about the women and men who work in the sector, but because of the key messages this powerful industry perpetuates in society. In a nutshell, the advertising industry sells and perpetuates stereotypes - what it is to be a bloke, a woman, to be young, old, successful - and these stereotypes become then norm.

Relevantly, a recent global study of the advertising industry found that -

"just 2% of adverts featured women who could be described as “intelligent”; just 3% were shown in leadership roles."

The advertising industry is just the tip of the iceberg with the media and entertainment industries, all such powerful influencers of our socialisation, compounding the problem and promoting and reinforcing a lack of 'visibility' for women as leaders.


Real life statistics
Real life statistics aren't much better off with the recent McKinsey and Lean In global research highlighting that women only make up 19% of those in the C-suite despite intense focus and huge effort in the last 50 years.

The survey also found that the roadblocks, brick walls and glass ceilings that more mature women have battled for years are still having impact on younger generations - with 23% of millennial women believe their gender has prevented them from getting ahead at work (compared to 26% non-millennials), and with a more than 14% ambition gap between millennial women vs men (compared to 17% non-millennial).

You cannot be who you cannot see.
— Cindy Gallop

It's not that women aren't getting there because we're/they're not good enough. In fact, there is now overwhelming evidence to the contrary including analysis of performance during the GFC demonstrating that organisations with mixed gender Boards performed better at that time.  It's just that perception and biases get in the way of us seeing (women included) that women also make great leaders.

Bias is bad for business
Bias is a huge issue for those who aspire to leadership roles but don't fit the stereotype. It's also a huge issue for those industries and organisations who have yet to embrace the benefits that diversity brings in order to meet 2020 business challenges and remain competitive.

Relevance and sustainability in a modern and ever changing business environment are some of the greatest obstacles in any industry. If organisations want to remain relevant and be around in the future, they need to ensure that women are seen as leadership potential. Put simply, invisibility and the biases that surround it, are a problem for both the individual and the organisation. And to quote Jonathan Segal;

"Bias is bad for business."

When ambitious women don't fit in easily (don't always get the jokes, don't look the same, don't play golf, don't know the unwritten ground rules, other women think we're bossy and men may feel threatened) we may accidentally find ourselves becoming invisible in the leadership talent pipeline despite targets, quotas and best intentions.

Taking a stand makes companies stand out
Recently we've seen several brands come out and really embrace the benefits that diversity brings. Earlier in the year we saw Lynx parent company Unilever come out publicly and vow to drop advertising that promotes stereotypes.  Yes, this makes them far more visible in a crowded market place. Plus the lamb diversity campaign by the MLA in Australia is a great example of turning diversity into a competitive advantage.  

In a modern world, future focused successful organisations are also embracing diversity as a competitive advantage in terms of attracting talent, creating new markets and mechanisms to innovate.  

Why not be a stand out individual?

For the individual, this represents an opportunity to really stand out as well. This is an opportunity for you as an individual to let go of the old ways of getting ahead - fitting in, playing the game and playing by the rules. They aren't going to work much longer anyway.

Instead embrace the new rules of the portfolio career, personal branding and self promotion. Leadership opportunities will go to those who are prepared to Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge. And the best bit? This then becomes a competitive advantage for those who don't fit the mold.

Some rules of thumb to remember in your quest for leadership:

  • Back yourself and be prepared to have a crack at it - women have a tendency to underestimate our future performance as compared to men. Don't let that tendency stand in your way.
  • You shouldn't have to fit in in order to lead - in fact it might be more helpful if you stand out
  • Invisible might feel comfortable, but visibility is the new black
  • Results don't speak for themselves, you need to speak to them
  • Your future leadership personal brand is your key differentiator
  • It's your job to sell brand you, not someone else's

While the advertising industry itself still has a long way to go, there are great lessons emerging for us all. And as Oscar Wild once wrote;

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life."

Your thoughts?

  • Does your organisation promote the same old tired stereotype? Or are you seeing fresh ideas and different thinking championed and celebrated throughout the business? 
  • If you are seeing fresh ideas and different thinking championed - what are the results to date?
  • What mechanisms does your organisation have in place in order to encourage different thinking, diverse ideas and innovation?  
  • Have you tried to stand out and did it work (yet)?
Why not BYO chair? The view from the top is great.

Why not BYO chair? The view from the top is great.

Let me know.  I love receiving emails from you with your own ideas and insights.
And by the way - still don't have a seat at the table?  Why don't you BYO chair?  The view is great from where I'm sitting!

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months