It is often much harder for women to get promoted than men. The most common characteristic of successful women is that they know how to express their excellence in a male dominated environment. How do they do it?
Most of us are promoted to due to our excellence expressed through one or two opportunities. These were usually based on ‘hard issues’ that contributed significantly to the business in some critical period.
In our promotion, was the assumption, that we could work out how to express our excellence universally. For most of us this has not been so straightforward. We have had difficulty getting our message to the right people at the right time.
The ‘critical periods’ of the business generally took care of either the soft issues – the people based priorities, or the hard issues-the projects at hand, and we took care of the other.
Now that period is past and our leadership is being assessed on a different foundation. We are expected to lead on the soft and hard priorities of the business with equal competence.
The stock exchange intimately understands extraordinary performance to be leadership driven. Not all stocks command the same premiums, leadership and communication of the company vision is reflected in its stock price. When company management changes, stock prices reflect the mass perception of this change in leadership.
There has long been intense interest in the competencies that consistently deliver outstanding performance! Our knowledge of what causes the differences has increased dramatically. However, our ability to impart the knowledge broadly, to enable more people to achieve these results, has remained about the same. There is some assumption we have about how people learn high-level leadership skills that is not true.
There are three personal disciplines required of us to competently deliver results. All three are common knowledge, however only two are widely taught, externally measured and impartially assessed. The other is taught one-on-one and is measured objectively and subjectively.
Firstly, physical discipline – the willingness to work hard. Most knowledge workers intimately understand this. They work long hours, continually strive to fit more into each day and achieve quality decision-making. Physical discipline can be readily assessed externally, it is what we might call the breadth or scope of the work; how many issues we can manage simultaneously and not lose sight of our contribution to the vision.
Secondly, mental discipline – to be able to deal with the issue or meeting at hand, and handle it once. This requires us to leave other issues at the door. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it is not. Mental discipline is the productivity of our leadership; how many sound decisions we are making that consistently support the vision.
Both these issues can be measured quantitatively to assess performance. The measurements are impartial and allow considerable flexibility of leadership style. Both disciplines are well understood and we can develop them readily in others.
Thirdly, we need emotional discipline. The ability to enable individuals, teams, or a community, to contribute to, or comply with our decisions.
This requires us to:
* Step aside from our own emotional reactions and so become unattached to the personalities and problems associated with the outcomes.
* Understand the emotional nature of our team, community or Corporation, to enable communication of the meaning to each of them, and,
* Through this be able to engage them to the vision in a meaningful and consistent way for delivery of the results.
This is complex behaviour, with little common language. It has a powerful input to the results depending what is fuelled – engaging, disengaging or fence sitting!
Women therefore need to be able define their emotional intelligence to express their contribution.
Emotional intelligence is ability to express the above three competencies at the right time, the right place and to the right people. This expression is delivered through insightful moments.
Leadership is measured by our ability to command insight in the critical moments of projects and personal interactions.
By Julia Dean