Rising Together

Sally Helgesen. (2023).  Rising Together – How we can Bridge Divides and create a More Inclusive Workplace. New York:  Hachette

Sally has done it again.  Helgesen is an expert in women leadership identifying numerous challenges and suggestions to increase diversity and inclusion. This book continues to educate and support the positive results for the workplace and life as did her previous book, How Women Rise.  Read a summary at https://learningomnivores.com/what-were-reading/how-women-rise/

The first two quotes in Rising Together will give you an insight into the wealth of information, understanding, and desire to unleash more potential in organizations.

  • A lot of the best talent these days is female!”
  • “If we can’t figure out how to become better places for women to work, we’re not going to have much of a future.”

It is clear, through research and the best performing organizations, that diversity, inclusion, and equity are positive factors in the best learning cultures and businesses. A culture of belonging is one in which the largest possible percentage of people:

  • Feel ownership in the organization, viewing it as “we” not “they”.
  • Believe they are valued for their potential as well as their contributions.
  • Perceive that how they matter is not strictly tied to their positional power.

Currently people are walking away from all positions in every job sector.  One way to attract and retain your best contributors is to build psychological safety in the organization.  This book will help leaders create positive cultures.

15 percent of employees reported feeling actively engaged by their work in 2019. Question for leaders, ‘can you survive and thrive losing 15 percent of your talent? What creates trust and what diminishes trust in the organization?

Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book called Triggers (2015). See https://learningomnivores.com/what-were-reading/triggers-5/

For a summary.  Here are some triggers that create doubt that Helgesen identifies.  Our job as leaders is to respond to those triggers to signal verbally and non-verbally, we stand for DEI.

Helgesen expands on each one of these triggers in the book.

Trigger 1: Visibility – what are the optics? Does good work and good thinking get notices? Do leaders take a stand on ethical treatment?

Trigger 2: Managing Perceptions – Are women treated the same as men?

Are  people of color treated the same as whites?

Trigger 3:  Confidence and Competence – there is a difference between being confident and having competence.  The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias whereby tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge. To combat this, ask questions rather than state opinions that demonstrate confirmation bias. We rise together by distinguishing overconfidence from competence.

Trigger 4:  What Are You Trying to Say? Radar versus Laser.  There is always exception to what I am about to say. Men tend to focus on getting results and women tend to focus on how we get things done. From my experience (Bill) human systems are usually both/and NOT either/or.  I have found the use of stories, videos, and proverbs valuable in communication.

  • Women’s attention often operates like radar, scanning the environment and picking up a wide range of clues.
  • Men’s attention is likely to operate more like a laser, focusing narrowly and deeply, and blocking out whatever seems extraneous.
  • Laser noticers tend to value succinctness, bottom-line data and the ability to get straight to the point.
  • Radar noticers often like to share plenty of background, including all the details that seem important to the larger story they wish to tell.

Business media as well as many coaches and experts view authenticity as a competitive edge and a business imperative.

I really liked this quote in the book, “Stereotyping is the lazy person’s way to get to know someone.”

More from the book, “Professionals can hold PhDs from top universities or from the school of hard knocks.” Here are my own rules for acting and speaking as a professional:

  • Professionals respect other people’s time.
  • Professionals exhibit patience
  • Professionals don’t complain they understand that things don’t always work out as planned, so they accept setbacks and move on.
  • Professionals don’t engage in gossip.
  • Professionals help other to shine.
  • Professionals show appreciation.
  • Professionals strive to communicate clearly.

Trigger 5: It’s Not FairWe rise together by recognizing the extent to which “its not fair”  is a losing game. Unfairness exists, but it does mean finding a way to take action so you can move forward without burning your bridges.” 

Trigger 6:  The Grapevine and the Network – We rise together by knowing how to develop, extend, and leverage our networks. I (Bill)  have said to several employers, “when you hire me, you hire my network too.”

Trigger 7: That’s Not Funny – Funny must not be at the expense of a person, group, or ethics.  At the same time Self-deprecating humor can be extraordinarily effective because it demonstrates vulnerability.

Trigger 8:  Attraction, the Uncomfortable Bits. Sally offers a great list of do’s and don’ts for labor law and the possibility of sexual harassment lawsuits. 

A Culture of Belonging – The Power of Inclusive Behaviors. We rise together by practicing inclusive habits on a daily basis. Diversity describes the nature of the situation, while inclusion describes the means by which the situation can most effectively be managed and led.

Simply recognizing our biases does not give us an intuitive path forward, whereas taking action, does. Our behaviors are what make the difference, not our random unstated thoughts.

New Ways of Being – I’d like to propose a positive and action-based approach.  One that enables us to live our way into a new way of thinking rather than attempting to think our way into a new way of being.

  • Active Listening
  • Building on What Previous Speakers Say
  • Avoiding Over confirmation
  • Speaking Last – Peter Drucker had a rule for himself: he was always the last to speak.
  • Engaging Across Levels and Divisions – How you listen matters, but who you listen to does as well. Frontline people are rarely in the room when these decisions are discussed.
  • The Details Matter. Research confirms that employees are likely to perceive their executive team as more committed to inclusion than that one level down, as more committed than those two levels down and so on in descending order.
  • Honoring The Squeaky Wheel – The task force should actively seek to include those who were most adamant about specific challenges that the group wanted address.
  • Taking Nothing Off the Table
  • Demonstrating Generosity
  • Investing in Colleagues Career Development
  • Hiring To Make It Happen

Helgesen relates a story about Mike Kaufmann, CEO, Cardinal Health.  Here are a couple of things he did to change the culture.

  1. he hired an outside coach with decades of experience in women’s leadership to work with him solely on gender issues.
  2. he enlisted five to seven “truth tellers” from within Cardinal, internal people tasked with keeping him informed about the company’s successes and setbacks in regard to women.

From my (Bill) experience this is what Stakeholder Centered Coaching is about to elevate leadership potential and create cultures of learning. BTW, Bill is a certified SCC coach.

We rise together by enlisting one another’s support.  Nobody does this alone.  Together is in the titled for a reason.

Cultivating the Power of We

We rise together by understanding the true nature of power. Speaking about power, Ted Jenkins, Intel provides an organizer for viewing power.  I had never heard this before and thank Sally for including it.

Four essential powers in an organizations

  • The power of position
  • The power of expertise
  • The power of connections
  • The power of personal authority.

The critical implementation depends on the ‘right us of power.’  Power can ‘empower’ or create a command & control structure.

The Practice of Influence

  • “Do you believe that world would be a better place if you and people like you had more power?”
  • “Then why would you not try to become more powerful? Don’t you want the world to be a better place?”

“If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

African Proverb