Archive for August, 2015

Men Who Open Doors

August 17, 2015

MenOpeningDoorsThere are two kinds of people – those who believe in a life of abundance and those who believe in a life of scarcity. Men who open doors for women AND women who welcome these men into their networks, perspectives and career paths are of the first ilk – believing in a world of abundance.

If it follows that women who open doors to rooms of privilege themselves are looked upon as pushy, AND women who are escorted into rooms of privilege by men are looked upon with curiosity and respect, then we need to forge more partnerships between genders to facilitate leadership.

Below are some reasons and up-sides for men-who-open-doors.

  1. By rising above gender biases, teams, companies and industries can start focusing on embracing and encouraging leadership and results rather than gender (and other things we can’t control).
  2. The more women (and men) you escort into rooms of privilege, the higher the waters will rise, and the more boats will sail. This is good news for all involved.
  3. The more women feel empowered, the more likely they will be to empower others, which is also good for all involved.
  4. The more you are surrounded by people who don’t look-or-think-like you, the more perspectives and ideas will appear. And generally that’s good, for diversity matters whether you’re writing the code or running the business!
  5. In general, understanding and accepting people who are NOT like you helps you become more grounded and happier.
  6. It feels *good* to let deserving and open people into a whole new world – even if you don’t directly benefit immediately from doing so.
  7. Each door you open is a ‘thank-you’ to those who opened a door for *you* when you needed it. Pay it forward, perpetuate the virtuous cycle.
  8. Make it not about gender – create a cohesive, integrated, merit-based, collaborative team, for the good of all!
  9. People don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. Give all your people the support they need to succeed so that they stay with you, and grow with the team.
  10. Be strategic about who you open the doors for – those who are smart, hard-working, passionate, and ethical. And be open to opening that door even if the other person doesn’t quite reach that bar.

To all those men who have opened the doors for me, I thank you and hope to continue to pay it forward. Be the kind of man who would open doors for others, because you can. Be the kind of woman who welcomes these kinds of men into their lives.

Politics In The Workplace: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 14, 2015
Politics in the Workplace, FountainBlue August 11, 2015 When She Speaks Event

Politics in the Workplace, FountainBlue August 11, 2015 When She Speaks Event

FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such courageous and accomplished women on our panel, who come from many different educational levels, corporate and technical backgrounds, and frames of reference. They graciously and generously shared their wisdom around navigating politics – the art and science of influence.
  • Accept that politics is a part of life and decide to work with it and learn from it. It’s a given that there will be politics as not everyone will be on the same page with the same agenda at the same time.
  • Know yourself and what your values are and what your value-add is. This will help you identify who you are and stay strong to your integrity and principles. This will also help you find the courage to stop fearing the fear and take risks in ways that make sense and for the right reasons.
  • Ever be that confident, energetic, enthusiastic person – even if you have to fake it to get there sometimes.
  • Accept that there will invariably be misalignments between people, teams and groups, and work to understand the perspectives and objectives of all those involved. Assume that others in the group have the best intentions . . . unless the data shows otherwise.
  • Know the difference between misalignment of opinion and misalignment of values. Never compromise those core values.
  • Create and build a support network that helps you keep centered, ‘smelling the roses, blowing out the candles’.
  • Understanding what needs to be done, who’s involved and what their motivations will help you better understand and manage the situation.
  • Resources such as time and money always adds conflict to any group dynamic, whether a company is huge and established or just starting out. Understand why different people, teams and partners want what they want and start the negotiations with that in mind.
  • Separate the bad politics which is around self-centered empire building to the good politics where people may have different plans and needs, but are overall aligned on the goals.
  • Be curious – listen to what others have to say. Always try to understand what’s motivating them.
  • Communicate with clarity, courage and transparency with conversations based on facts and data. Communicate outside the direct network and to the larger network, including execs to keep them in the loop, where appropriate.
  • Embrace interactions as learning experiences. Know the difference between what you own and what someone else owns and accept that you can only change yourself. For example, if someone pushes you under the bus, perhaps you did things that set them up to do that, but in the end, the other person pushed you under the bus, so approach with caution.
  • Park the emotions and don’t take things personally. Take the high road at every opportunity and maintain channels of communication. (That’s generally easier said than done, so invest in making yourself more centered and stronger so that you can get more progressively closer to the mark.)
  • Connect with people at all levels and build networks and relationships of trust BEFORE you need to count on them.
  • In working with difficult people, find a way to disagree amiably. Start conversations and communications focused on what you have in common, which is probably more things than you think in the heat of the moment!
  • Build relationships with men and women – don’t make gender a criteria for the people you have in your network. Rule of thumb: if a woman opens a door, people might wonder why she’s so pushy. If a man opens a door for the woman, people will wonder what’s special about that woman.
  • In general, tech companies are more accepting of women leaders who prove themselves than in other industries such as automotive or military. But that doesn’t mean that all tech companies will treat women better, or that all companies are equal. Find that company, culture and team where you feel you can succeed, and make plans to walk if it’s not all that it appears to be, in a bad way. Hint: When you find a job and a team that is super focused on an exciting new project, there may be less time to engage in petty politics.
The bottom line is that those who accept that politics is part of the game of life, those who know who they are and stand behind those principles, those who put the project and the team above themselves will better succeed in navigating political waters.
Recommended Resources:

Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at NetApp and our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Politics in the Workplace, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

Facilitator Julianna Hynes, PhD, Julianna Hynes & Associates, Executive and Leadership Development Coach

Panelist Neela Deshpande, Chief of Staff, Dell Networking

Panelist, Lakshimi Duraivenkatesh, Director, Software Development, eBay 

Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Polycom

Panelist Julie Herd, Director of Product Management, NetApp

Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Sr. Mgr. Solutions Marketing, Nutanix