Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

By Susan Chira, originally posted on New York Times on July 21, 2017.

A year ago, dressed in suffragette white and addressing a cheering, weeping convention, Hillary Clinton stood for possibility. Now she is a reminder of the limits women continue to confront — in politics and beyond.

More than 40 years after women began pouring into the workplace, only a handful have made it all the way to the top of corporate America. The percentage of chief executives of Fortune 500 companies who are women just passed 6 percent, creeping up (and occasionally dropping back) at a glacial pace.

Why don’t more women get that No. 1 job?

Consider the experiences of the people who know best: Women who were in the running to become No. 1, but didn’t quite make it. The women who had to stop at No. 2.

What their stories show is that in business, as in politics, women who aspire to power evoke far more resistance, both overt and subtle, than they expected would be the case by now.

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Playing the Keys to an Electric Leadership Legacy


Leo Fender was a pioneer in the design and improvement of the electric guitar.  As innovative as he was to music, his leadership was electric too.  His resonant tones moved millions but so did the progressive tone of his leadership.

Occasionally, the world produces one of those rare leaders who alter the course of history.  Disney reinvented entertainment, Einstein revolutionized science, Edison lit up our lives with the light bulb, Bell got the world talking with the telephone – and Fender electrified music.  Leo Fender has influenced every person on earth today – at least everyone who has ever heard a song.

When Leo released his Telecaster guitar, people laughed at him.  Noting their strange, flat design, his critics said that all his strange guitars were useful for was to paddle boats.  Yet, Leo’s guitars went on to be used by everyone from Elvis Presley to Eric Clapton and from Jimmy Page to Jimmy Hendrix.  Indeed, Rolling Stone Magazine published a list of the world’s top 100 guitarists, and 90 of them played a Fender on stage.

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Nelson Mandela and the Power of Purpose


Today’s leaders certainly face tough challenges, but few can argue that they pale in comparison to what Nelson Mandela had to overcome: poverty, institutionalized racism and prison, to name just a few. Yet Mandela was able to accomplish something remarkable in a way that experts say leaders in government and the private sector can learn from.

Mandela’s legacy was honored July 18, on what would have been his 99thbirthday. He infused a clear sense of purpose—to create a free society—in both his words and deeds; and it’s that unwavering sense of purpose, experts say, that CEOs should take to heart. Leaders who can inspire groups to “serve something larger than ourselves,” can create organizations that are more productive, profitable and beneficial to society, says Elaine Dinos, a principal in Korn Ferry’s Global Consumer Market practice.

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Great Leaders Are Great Storytellers

What is Emotional Self-Awareness?

By Dan Goleman, excerpted from Emotional Self-Awareness:  A Primer, and posted on the Korn Ferry Institute

Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to understand your own emotions and their effects on your performance.  You know what you are feeling and why – and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do.  You sense how others see you and so align your self-image with a larger reality.  You have an accurate sense of your strengths and limitations, which gives you a realistic self-confidence.  It also give you a clarity on your values and sense of purpose, so you can be more decisive when you set a course of action.  As a leader, you can be candid and authentic, speaking with conviction about your vision.

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Pause Powers Performance

Leadership From The Inside Out – New 3rd Edition Announcement


The Power of Purpose-Driven Leadership

What Are The Deepest Roots of Your Leadership?

By Kevin Cashman; Originally posted on Pause Point, Kevin’s Forbes.com blog on May 15, 2017. 

Many of our most fundamental leadership models originate deep in our life story. Reflecting on these influences can foster genuine and fundamental self-awareness.

Post-Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a story on the profound and practical patterns my mother instilled at “the red thing” in our home.

In the basement of our family home was something we called “the red thing.” The red thing was a brightly painted, high wooden bench that happened to be located directly across from where my mother would stand to do the ironing. All of us kids wanted time on the red thing, but it wasn’t really about the red thing at all.

What we sought was the sage advice and encouragement of our mother. Because she only allowed one of us at a time on the red thing, time there with her was highly coveted. Our mom was an amazing listener, coach, teacher and facilitator. Although we always wanted her to give us answers, which she did occasionally, more often she taught us how to reflect and build our own awareness by looking at different sides of an issue, situation, person or group. She helped us to think, to process, and to land on our own clarity. She appreciated each of our unique talents and accomplishments, but also challenged us to explore, excel or exceed. She was particularly challenging when we were certain that we knew something or when we were judgmental about people.

I was not aware at the time what she was doing. I was only aware of the benefits of it. I did not realize that she was modeling a process, a way to reflect on yourself and the challenges faced. She had this incredible natural ability to use questions to get us to look at something from different perspectives, to help us to better understand who we were, why we were going in a particular direction, and how to consider alternatives. She balanced encouragement with a push for excellence. She was intolerant of a lack of openness. She was a master coach. She ignited a passion in me to help people grow.

Heartfelt thanks to you, Mim Cashman, your “maternal leadership” was a living example of how to integrate both the maternal and paternal into one way of being and leading. What are the deepest roots of your leadership?

Ten Authentic Leadership Practices

By Kevin Cashman; Originally posted on Pause Point, Kevin’s Forbes.com blog on April 24, 2017. 

Of all the principles supporting sustainable leadership, authenticity is one of the most important. It also can be one of the most challenging to practice. Despite this, few people realize it’s an area that even needs continuous attention. In more than three decades of interacting with thousands of leaders, I’ve yet to meet an executive for coaching who comes to me lamenting, “I’m having real trouble being authentic.” Yet if authenticity is so important, why don’t we recognize it as an issue within ourselves? The answer is both simple and profound: we are always authentic to our present state of development. We all behave in perfect alignment with our current level of emotional, psychological, and spiritual evolution. All our actions and relationships, as well as the quality and power of our leadership, accurately express the person we have become. Therefore, we conclude that we are “authentic,” because we are doing the best we can with the information, experience, competencies and traits that we have at this time.

There is a big catch, however. While we are authentic to our current state of development, we are inauthentic to our potential state of development. As Shakespeare wrote so eloquently in Hamlet, “We know what we are, but not what we may be.” As humans and as leaders, we have an infinite ability to grow, to be and to become. Our horizons are unlimited. If there is an end-point to growing in self-awareness and practicing authenticity, I certainly have not seen it.

To deepen authenticity, to nourish leadership from the inside out, takes time, attention, courage and practice. In today’s world, the amount of distraction and busyness we all experience keeps us from undertaking the inward journey, and engaging in the deep pause and reflection required, to become more authentic human beings.

So what is authenticity? Based on our experience coaching thousands of leaders globally over the years, we define authenticity as the continuous process of building self-awareness of our whole person, as well as being transparent with others about our whole person, both strengths and limitations. As a result, more often than not, the authentic leader’s beliefs, values, principles, and behaviors tend to line up. Commonly referred to as “walking the talk,” authenticity also means being your talk at a very deep level.

The practice of authenticity is so much more than simply being true to ourselves, it also requires being true with others. Authenticity carries a much bigger duty to speak up, shake up and to light up the darkness and to “shake the spiritual tree” as author and global thought leader Ken Wilber puts it. “You must let the radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you” as Wilber elaborates. Authenticity is rarely complacent but rather clear with what is important and what needs to change; it is not attracted to convention but much more compelled to courageous conviction.

Let’s take a moment to learn some practices from two global CEOs very advanced in this journey to authenticity: Howard Schultz and David MacLennan. When asked by Charlie Rose, “What’s the most important quality today for leadership?” Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks at the time, replied, “To display vulnerability.” In his book Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz says, “Although they can hire executives with many talents and skills, many CEOs discover that what they lack most is a reliable sounding board. They don’t want to show vulnerability to those who report to them.” He advises, “Don’t be afraid to expose your vulnerabilities. Admit you don’t know what you don’t know. When you acknowledge your weaknesses and ask for advice, you’ll be surprised how much others will help.”

David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill, one of the world’s largest private companies with $107 billion in annual revenue, shared this perspective with me on authenticity: “A critical part of transparency and a real test of leadership authenticity is having people come up to you and say, “Hey this is what I think is wrong. Were you aware of this?” as opposed to, “Look out. There’s the CEO. I better not speak up.” Your real ‘authenticity audit’ is the degree to which people are open to you, because you have been open, vulnerable and honest with them.”

When people know you will deeply and authentically listen to them, people will be authentic and honest with you. Deepening our conversation, I asked David to elaborate his key authenticity practices and he impressively outlined 10:

1. Be comfortable in your own skin; don’t ever try to fake realness.

2. Never take yourself too seriously; it is not usually about you.

3. Share stories of personal failure, vulnerability, and learning. Authenticity shows the full picture of who you are.

4. Don’t believe your own press and/or focus too much on your accomplishments. Remember: you really are the ‘kid inside’ just trying to do your best.

5. Surround yourself with people who will give you feedback. I was once told, “You look tired and you need a haircut.” Authenticity is both a pragmatic and profound gift.

6. Earn the right to be trusted by being courageously truthful. Authenticity multiplies trust with all those it touches.

7. Encourage diversity and encourage everyone to bring the best in themselves to work. Authenticity is inclusive.

8. Narrow the gap between your work self and your private/home self. Authenticity is one person everywhere, in all situations.

9. Stay humble to learn and stay confident to serve. Authentic leaders know when to be bold, and when to be a learner.

10. Dedicate yourself to purpose-driven service. Authenticity is all about service to all levels, to all stakeholders and in all moments of leadership.

Recently, to his great credit, David put some of these principles into courageous action in a very public way. When most CEOs were still very cautious to speak their minds about the new U.S. Administration’s positions on trade and immigration, David spoke up strongly on the issues. He asserted, “We have to turn the tide on some of the current themes that we are seeing. Geopolitics are shifting and we are standing at a crossroads of some really important issues for business and society.” Elaborating more on trade he said, “We need to be very mindful of the effect on jobs and the impact of trade on jobs in local communities but it’s not an all-or-nothing approach. If the U.S. steps back from our leadership role in a global economy, I can guarantee you other countries will very, very quickly fill the gap.”

In the end, the core practice of authenticity is courageously standing for, and expressing our most heartfelt principles … with a touch of humility thrown in. The most authentic world-class leaders with whom I get the privilege to work, balance exceedingly high self-confidence with exceptionally deep humility. Demonstrating this at the end of our conversation, David reflected, “Cargill is so much bigger than I am. I am the ninth CEO in a 150-year history. One day I’ll be the next ‘oil painting on the wall’ that people barely remember. Authenticity is knowing that life, leadership and the organization are all so much bigger and so much more important than I am.”