What we need our leaders to do about the oil spill is to listen to things from all sides and exercise judgment - calm, sound judgment. Not a soul on the earth has any experience capping a mile-deep oil well. Nothing in our leaders experience will help them. We're going to have to hope that they are smart and not unnerved by the ridiculous pressures that come from outside the problem. We're going to have to hope that what the public thinks about what they are doing to work the problem doesn't change how they actually work the problem. The situation itself is pressure enough.
With so many organizations competing for the women of the world, trying to get them to take notice and join up with them (instead of their competitors) I've noticed something disturbing: It's not working. Though some have enjoyed moderate success at upping the numbers of female leaders on the payroll - too many (far too many) are struggling. As of April, only 15 of the Fortune 500 were led by women CEOs. That's just .03%? - Pathetic. I think - and bear with me here - that I have identified the primary reason that so many of us long to achievie gender balance on our teams. Ready? Here it is: We keep trying to treat women as equals.....huge mistake. Now I've heard all the arguments: “a woman can do anything a man can do.” and, “women are just as good at men in the workplace.” But it never quite registered with me as the right approach.
The unaccounted for variable in all these stories, from the "look what my caring leadership and mentoring has produced" series, are the other ten people that worked for you back in 95. What happened to them? What happened to your top three performers that you ignored while you were paying attention to your fixer-upper? Because something definitely happened to them - while you may have thought you were doing a good and noble thing, I personally believe you screwed up royal.
Perspective changes everything. It will let you know when its time to dig in and fight, and when its alright to concede. Perspective allows you to remain calm when everyone else is frantic. Knowing what is bad and what isn't gives you a certain coolness under what is pressure to everyone else, and that can make all the difference. When faced with a "crisis" (please) the ability to temper your reaction accordingly and face the problem makes things better. Calm beats frazzled every time.
Ori and Rom Brafman's "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior" is another excellent read on human behavior that can add to your understanding of how people make (or don't make) decisions. There are reasons [...]
Sitting in front of my old boss, days before my transfer to my new boss, I am engaged in what is commonly referred to in the military as the "out brief." It is a mildly informal meeting [...]
If you're on the West coast, you're more likely blow off your vacation time than I am, men are more likely to check in with work on those rare vacations than women are, and if you're an American you are given less vacation days by your employer than every other developed country in the world.
Those of us in the field (doing the "real" work) need those considerations, and we need someone else to do it – we are too busy; we are focusing on the immediate, the now, the customer, the business at hand. I, for one, have always been thankful for all the things that someone else had to think about to make my job easier or safer or better.