A Woman’s Place is in the Corner Office

Earlier this week, HBR released a report which detailed work on the effect of female leadership at the upper echelons of organizations (read it here). In short: Organizations with greater female representation in the C-Suite and on their Boards had better profits.
sdkQYMb
These types of findings have been found before, and it’s great that a source like Harvard is now also championing it.

The authors of the report were unable to answer the question why having more women produced these results. They surmise that it could be the product of diversity (which definitely is linked to better firm performance), or a role-modeling/cultural openness effect. You can read more about those in the article.

For me, being a leadership expert, my thoughts immediately went to research that shows that women are better leaders. A researcher named Alice Eagly has completed a number of meta-analyses on the topic of leadership. A meta-analysis takes dozens of other research findings and summarizes and puts them through further statistical rigor, so results are in many ways more reliable than a single research study. In one such meta-analysis, Eagly looked at the gender differences in leadership styles (paper here). She found that women were more likely to be transformational leaders, and use another style called continent reward (this involves setting goals paired with clear rewards for achieving them and penalties for not). Both of these styles are positively associated with individual, team, and organizational performance. Men were more likely to engage in negative behaviors akin to micromanaging, looking for and penalizing errors, or just not caring about employees. Needless to say, these behaviors are negatively associated with performance (and a slew of other employee well-being factors).

So having women break through the glass ceiling is good for firm performance, and having women at all levels of your organization is good for everybody.

One final note: the positive leadership behaviors can be developed through training – more about that in a future post 😉
giphy

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Now may be about the time that many new year resolutions are starting to wane. Maybe you’re not seeing results, maybe you have lost your purpose, and motivation.  In which case, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Or, maybe you’re killing it, in which case, nice work!  Either way, today I want to give you a bit of motivation, in the form of knowledge!

Specifically, I want to talk about exercise.  Of course there are many reasons why exercise is good for your health.  Everyone knows that.  BUT, exercise can also be good for your career!  Below I’m going to mention a few studies that show the effects of exercise on work – and all you have to do to take advantage of these benefits is to keep fit and have fun.

BodyBreak_90_sec_Program_Show_3_Cycling_Tricep_Curls

1. Exercise Makes You a Better Leader (link)

  • So technically, research shows that exercise makes you less of a bad leader: Researchers found that exercise was linked with a decreased likelihood that a leader would engage in what is called abusive supervision – an abusive supervisor is one who demeans, belittles, verbally harasses… basically everything negative but physical aggressions.  The authors found that workplace stress increased abusive supervision, but when leaders also exercised, the effects of stress were cancelled out.  In this study, exercise was measured by the number of hours per week a leader exercised – it didn’t capture the type of exercise, just that it was being done.

2. Exercise Buffers the Negative Effect of Workplace Stress on Your Health

  • In some of my own (currently unpublished) research using a national longitudinal sample, my colleagues and I found that over the course of 10 years, there was a negative relationship between workplace stress and overall health (e.g., sickness, disease, mental health).  This finding isn’t new, but what we also found that when a person exercised, like in the first article, the negative effect wasn’t as strong.  Exercise weakened the negative effects of stress on our health.  Exercise was measured by the energy expenditure of exercise – very similar to the duration calculation in the first study, but also incorporating some measure of vigour.
  • Another study showed similar findings for the effects of exercise on the relationship between depression and work burnout (here).

3. Exercise, in the form of Yoga, Reduces Aggression & Counterproductive Workplace Behaviors (link)

  • Research from India shows that the practice of yoga translates to positive outcomes in the workplace.  In an experimental study (where some people were in a “yoga” group, and others were not – i.e., a “control” group), it was shown that those in the yoga group were less aggressive, and performed fewer counterproductive workplace behaviors (a counterproductive work behavior is an umbrella term for any behaviour that interferes with the achievement of an organization’s goals, for example, stealing, interpersonal conflict, or bullying).

So if exercising for your health wasn’t enough motivation, maybe knowing that exercise can improve your functioning at work, and your interpersonal relationships with your co-workers, will.  Take it a step further, and encourage your employees to exercise, create a challenge with your team to stick to an exercise plan, or have your company bring in a yoga instructor.  These are relatively cheap solutions that could have a major impact on you, your employees, and your organization.

c4a00c6f-98b1-4aed-ab52-affe757978a9

To Talk or Not to Talk

Hillary-Clinton

In honour of birthday-girl Hillary Clinton, I thought I’d write a post about gender bias and politics.  No matter your political views (and I’m Canadian so it doesn’t matter anyway), you can’t argue that Hillary is a remarkable leader.  And as a female leader, she has overcome many more obstacles than you could imagine.

One specific obstacle is explored in research by Yale professor Victoria L. Brescoll.   In her research, Dr. Brescoll examined gender differences in volubility (the amount of time an individual spends talking) in the US Senate.  It was originally thought that as a person’s status/prestige/power (whatever you want to call it) increased, so did the amount of time they spent talking.  However, Dr. Brescoll found that this relationship was only true for men.

This may seem trivial, but consider this:  People who speak more, are in turn perceived to be more powerful and more likely to be considered a leader.  And with more power, men speak more, thereby further increasing their power.  It’s a reciprocal relationship that heightens the status of men, leaving women behind.

So why don’t women with power also speak more?

Continue reading

Saying Thanks

After a long weekend eating lots of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (or “Canadian Thanksgiving” as others may know it), I thought it would be appropriate to post a Thanksgiving-themed leadership tip.

“Thanks” is such a simple word.  A word that, at one syllable, literally takes less than a second to say.  But the impact of this word can be massive.  Coming from their leader, “thanks” can make employees feel appreciated, valued, and that their hard work is being recognized.  Employees who feel these things are more likely to continually perform high, are more likely to participate in extra-role activities that benefit the entire organization, and more likely to stick around a company longer.  But perhaps even more importantly, employees who receive gratitude are happier and healthier.  All for one small word.

So please, remember to show some appreciation for those who continually help you do your job 🙂

If you’re still not convinced, I’d like to quickly look at the other side – not saying thanks when it’s due.  In the field of leadership research, it was once thought that not saying thanks had no effect – of course the positive outcomes listed above wouldn’t occur, but could negative effects beyond that happen?

I’m writing about it, so obviously the answer is YES.  Not saying thanks, not giving someone recognition or praise when its due is actually a significant source of stress.  Think about it: If you had been working hard to deliver a project, to be met with no acknowledgement whatsoever, wouldn’t you be a bit peeved?  Of course.  And that’s what researchers found: A lack of feedback is a terrible thing to deal with.

Thanks (yes, that was intended) for taking the time to think about this small gesture that can truly make someone’s day.  Try it tomorrow 🙂

Further Reading:

Now.

I have been thinking about this blog for years. I purchased the domain over a year ago, and set up the bones of the blog last February. But it has taken me until now to finally write my first post. There was always something that made me say to myself “I’ll start the blog when [PhD proposal/dissertation study/best friend’s wedding/etc. etc.] is over”.

What finally got my butt in gear? Well, like Ron & Harry, I was straightened out by Hermione, of course. Emma Watson, as the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, gave a passionate and motivating speech about gender equality. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and click here and then visit http://www.heforshe.org. Vanity Fair called the speech “game changing”, and I’d have to agree.

In her speech, Emma asks, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

Touché Hermione, touché.

So here I am NOW (I realize the speech was a couple weeks ago, give me a break), finally putting fingers to keyboard, to finally realize my vision of a blog where anyone could come to learn about issues facing women in the workplace, and discover tips to make themselves and those around them better, happier employees and leaders. It’s a daunting task to make the working world an equal and happier place, so please bear with me and come back each week for a bit more.

For today, let’s start with a very quick look at the core issues relevant to this blog – leadership, women in the workplace, and feminism:

  • Leadership: There’s a misconception on what it is to “lead” and what it is to “manage”.  Many use the words interchangeably.  Not at this blog. “Leadership” is anything one person does to influence another or a group.  Anyone can be a leader.  Anyone can be a great leader.  Anyone can be a terrible leader.  I hope to show you how to avoid the terrible, and reach for the great.
  • Gender Equality: Chances are, if you’re reading this blog you’re already aware of the 70% stat that is so often thrown around – women on average make 70% of the pay that men do in the same position.  Pretty crappy, yes.  On top of this, women often face “the glass ceiling” – a difficulty in moving from middle-management to senior management positions and above in organizations.  In the US, women hold over 50% of management & professional jobs, but as the rank of those jobs increases, female representation dwindles.  Answering why these phenomena exist is difficult (the Clinton Foundation has undertaken an initiative to help out), but researchers have discovered many clues and potential solutions, which I will share here.
  • The New F-Word: Feminism.  I’m a feminist, I hope you’re a feminist, and I’m always taken aback by those who say they are not.  Thankfully, the work of many prominent individuals such as Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (to name only a few) are finally bringing the real definition of feminism to the mainstream.  There is one question you need to ask yourself to know if you’re in the company of these brilliant individuals: Do you think that men and women should have equal rights? If you answered yes, congratulations, you’re a feminist, YOU ROCK!  If you answered no, then I sincerely hope that you will read about the issues facing women around the world, think about the women who have touched your life, and reevaluate your views.

I will leave it there for today.  Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to read this.  Please don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you have any questions or suggestions (e-mail here), and be sure to visit my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.

In the words of the first female news anchor of the Channel 4 News, thanks for stopping by!