Tag Archives: mentoring

Veterans as ‘Military Alumni’

Steve Rose PhD

Military Alumni

“The returning warrior may not realize it, but he has acquired an MBA in enduring adversity and a PhD in resourcefulness, tenacity and the capacity for hard work.” – Steven Pressfield

The concept of ‘veteran’ is usually associated with honor, but in some cases it may carry a stigma. Finding work after leaving the military can be frustrating for individuals who feel employers do not understand their value, associating their service with a stigmatizing view of PTSD. An individual I interviewed said the following:

“Nothing was more demoralizing than trying to find work with a military resume… the literacy of the general population to reading military, they all read it as a PTSD case.”

Embittered and shocked at how difficult it was to find employment, this individual took certain things off of his resume hoping to reduce the perceived stigma, minimizing his deployment to Afghanistan to the point where it…

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Women in Leadership – too nice? Too bossy?

women_calculator_desk_1600_wht_7996Leaving aside the whole issue of women on FTSE100 boards and the Norwegian Golden Skirts have women finally cracked the glass ceiling?

Well according to Herminia Ibarra and her colleagues, writing in the September 2013 HBR, persistent gender bias disrupts the learning process of becoming a leader.

They are talking about what they call “second generation gender bias”. Not direct discrimination but things like the paucity of role models for women, career paths and jobs that have become entrenched with a gender bias, and women’s lack of access to sponsors and networks.

They also talk about the double binds facing women. In most cultures leadership is associated with masculinity. The ideal leader, like the ideal man, is decisive, assertive, and independent.

Women, on the other hand, are expected to be nice, caretaking, and unselfish.  Research shows that female leaders who excel in traditional male domains are viewed as competent but less likeable than their male counterparts.

Yet research shows that female CEOs are trusted more than male ones and can add real value to teams.

Behaviours that suggest self-confidence or assertiveness in men often appear arrogant or abrasive in women. Female leaders who adopt a feminine approach to their work may be liked but not respected.

They are seen as too emotional to make tough decisions and too soft to be strong leaders.

Yet research carried out by Zenger and Folkman in 2011 on over 7,000 executives using 360 degree feedback, showed that women were rated higher than men at every managerial level.

However the higher in the hierarchy you went the more men there were. So were companies promoting the right people?

They used 16 competencies in their research, which they had identified as being the most important in terms of overall leadership effectiveness.

These were:

  • Takes initiative
  • Practices self-development
  • Drives for results
  • Develops others
  • Inspires and motivates others
  • Builds relationships
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Establishes stretch goals
  • Champions change
  • Solves problems and analyses issues
  • Communicates powerfully and prolifically
  • Connects the group to the outside world
  • Innovates
  • Technical or professional expertise
  • Develops strategic perspective

Comparing mean scores for men and women the women scored significantly (statistically) higher than the men on 12 of the 16 traits – and not just the ones that women are known to be better at.

They scored the same as men on connecting to the outside world. innovating, and technical or professional expertise. The only trait where men scored higher was on developing a strategic perspective.

So what’s to be done? Ibarra and her colleagues don’t suggest anything dramatically new or innovative.

Progressing to leadership positions means leaving behind your old professional identity and learning new skills (have a look at Charan’s pipeline model).

women_puzzle_pieces_1600_wht_7872That can be scary so having supportive mechanisms in place such as providing leadership programmes, mentoring and coaching (and I find in my coaching that women are less defensive and often respond better than men), and providing a support group or a safe space – perhaps an action learning group – can make a real difference.