Try this experiment:
Search: Leadership Books
Result: Some really amazing books on how to be a great leader. General leadership books - including Radical Candor by Kim Scott, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown...
Now Search : Leadership Books for Men
Result: Basically, you get the same books with a few books about warriors (and for some reason The Art of War and Liars Poker). The word MEN was not in any of the books on leadership.
Finally, Search: Leadership Books for Women
Result: And you get a wonderful array of books with the words WOMEN (or girls) in the title - as if the author had a target audience in mind.
As we already know, it’s a global pastime to give advice to women. Where would women be without so many wonderful people telling us how to be great leaders, politicians, mothers, girlfriends etc. Many of these books are written to help women be more like men at work, even though we already know that women who lead like men are often less successful or less happy at work. Many books for women in leadership really do help women to be more like themselves at work. “How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith is one of those books. It allows women to take a hard look at the behaviors they bring to work and see the behaviors that get in the way. I do not consider myself the stereotype - I lean in, I speak up - and yet, this book identified some of my own unhelpful habits and has helped me evaluate and coach leaders with more empathy.
I was most intrigued by the chapter about minimizing versus holding your space. The authors describe what women do during a meeting in a conference room while there is a steady stream of coworkers entering late. The author describes it as “mammalian behavior" - that thing that small mammals do in response to an alpha. She makes herself smaller. Symbolically moving her things closer to her and moving her chair over. Women make themselves smaller. But, importantly, there is also acknowledgement and praise for the things that women do exceptionally in that same moment. She often makes eye contact with the person entering the room. Makes the new attendee feel comfortable. Gets them up to speed if she has the floor. I want to see a leadership book for men that helps them do these inclusive and generous things more elegantly. Instead of telling women to stop, please tell men to start. Women achieve better results as stock traders, companies with women on their boards do better financially, women are often better at reading a room and providing feedback. The CEO of Uniqlo recently said publicly that the CEO role is much more suited for women! Women are doings things right while the men in the room are often taking up too much space. I believe, the leader (man or woman) who can take up space with awareness while being inclusive, attuned, generous and welcoming - wins! What would you want the man leading your organization to do that would help him lead more like a woman?
What would it look like if our daughters are free to lead as they are?
If you are looking to work with a coach who is high energy and approachable and tells it like it is, I'd love to help you cultivate your own leadership success story, send me a message on my website unpackingthebox.com.