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Taking Action: Getting Techical Women into the C-Suite

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Register for Watermark's Advancing Technical Women with CCL. This is a day and a half in-person workshop in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018. Join our informational webinar on October 2 for more information.

By Watermark Partner: Patty Burke, Center for Creative Leadership

Women in STEM careers are heroic!  They brave biases and fight stereotypes that are much worse than those of us in non-technical careers.   In many cases they are the only woman in their graduating class, and once they enter the workforce, they are one of the few women in their engineering group or technical lab.  At some point the ‘bro culture’ gets too frustrating, and they don’t stay to reap the benefits of their investment.  CCL and Watermark are partnering on a new leadership development experience to break this cycle.

The Promotion Pipeline is a Trickle

The statistics for women dropping out of engineering careers are alarming:  career lifespans for technical women are less than most goldfish!   According to recent research from the  National Center for Women in Technology, women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) leave their careers after 5-10 years, while the goldfish in your tanks survives for 10-15 years. 

No wonder there’s no pipeline of women ready to move into CTO, VP Engineering or Chief Scientist roles:

  • Women with STEM degrees are less likely than male counterparts to work in STEM jobs. 
  • More than half the women in STEM fields leave for other careers – and almost a third leave within their first year on the job.
  • Those who stay peak about 10 years into their career – failing to move into senior management or the executive suite

The bottom line: Though women continue to make gains across the broader economy, they remain dramatically underrepresented in STEM positions.

Breaking the Cycle---Promoting Technical Women

Research from CCL and Watermark on What Women Want in the Workplace shows the incredible value of women at work, so it’s even more important to give technical women every opportunity to succeed.   A group of us with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) from Silicon Valley decided to tackle this 2 years ago and began looking at the root causes and the knowledge and tools women need to break this cycle.  With input from the local chapter of IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE), we developed Advancing Technical Women (ATW) a unique 5-month on-line and face-to-face  leadership development journey designed to help women succeed and get promoted in STEM careers.  ATW content is based on CCL and industry research – a critical requirement with this audience of skeptical technologists. 

After 5 pilots and 120+ participants, CCL surveys are showing an exciting impact on the careers of technical women:

  • 92% Better equipped to advance in my career

  • 86%  Achieved better results as a leader

  • 79%  Improved visibility in my organization

  •  37% Promoted!  (higher level position or expanded scope of work)

One woman had the confidence to ask to have the engineering team of an acquired company report to her, and she got it!! 

Stretch Assignments:  The Path to Promotion

Not surprisingly, one of the most important requirements is access to stretch assignments.  Women often miss out on those big challenges because of unconscious (or conscious!) bias.  Bosses assume they won’t travel, they can’t move, or they are unable to manage major 24/7 projects with global teams because of family obligations.  Getting these assignments are a must for advancement and promotion, as well as job satisfaction.  In Advancing Technical Women, participants understand the research and tools for acquiring and succeeding at stretch assignments and develop action plans for getting projects that challenge them and lead to promotions.

CCL and Watermark’s Advancing Technical Women is a 5-month Learning Journey beginning in late November, with the 1.5 day on-site session in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018.  Register here, or contact me or Kate Byrne for more information.

We are also hosting a complimentary Informational Webinar About Advancing Technical Women on October 2, 2018 to learn more about the course, REGISTER TODAY.

From pay inequality to appalling #metoo behavior, challenges for women in the workplace are top of mind for most of us and we’re taking action drive change. The Center for Creative Leadership is excited to be partnering with Watermark to change the equation for technical women too.

Tags:  CCL  Leadership  Leadership Skills  STEM  tech  women 

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Leading with Executive Presence: What can we learn from the Soldier and the Saint?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Register for Watermark's Executive Presence for Financial Managers with Ching Valdezco of Exec|Comm. Dates: 10/10 in Silicon Valley and 11/14 in San Francisco.

By Jay Sullivan, Exec|Comm

When I think of Executive Presence, I think of two very different people I’ve had the privilege to meet. Both exemplify the ideals of what’s become known as “Servant Leadership,” that notion of leading from a place of humility with the emphasis on those being led. They came from very different backgrounds, and had their own unique roles in the world. Although they both had many attributes that gave them that gravitas we all seek as leaders, I thought it would be most helpful to you to focus on one aspect from each of them.

Simply Being There

Years ago, I conducted numerous training programs for the law firm of Patton Boggs (now knows as “Squire Patton Boggs”). At the time, Mike Nardotti was the partner in charge of the Learning & Development Committee at the firm. Mike came to the firm after five years as the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, in charge of an enormous team of dedicated lawyers. He retired from the army with the rank of Major General. When Mike walked in the room, you knew you were in the presence of a leader.

For those of us who don’t have experience serving in the military, our impression of a general is formed by TV and the movies. Think of the difference between how a general is portrayed, compared to a drill sergeant. The drill sergeant is most often portrayed as the person shouting in the face of the new recruits, breaking people down so they could be rebuilt as soldiers. The general, by contrast, is portrayed as the calm, steely eyed, self-possessed leader, confident of his statements, while carrying the weight of the importance of his decisions.

Mike was present at the start of every program I taught for the firm. He greeted me, and every attendee, by name and with a smile and welcome. He said a few words about the program, telling everyone the importance of building their skills, of investing in themselves, and of the firm’s commitment to their growth. He spoke clearly and briefly. Mike was as busy a person as any partner at any law firm. But since he led the Learning & Development function, he took that administrative function seriously. He was physically present to those he served in that role. His presence at the start of every program told his associates, “I care about you. I care about your development. You are important.” Simple physical presence is the first step in executive presence.

Staying on Message

Years earlier, before I attended law school, I spent two years in Kingston, Jamaica, helping a small group of nuns run an orphanage. There aren’t many advantages to being the only man living at the convent, but every once in a while, a nice opportunity would present itself. In 1985, completely unannounced, Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta), came to Kingston to visit the small group of Missionaries of Charity, the order of Catholic nuns she had founded. The Sisters of Mercy I was living with at the time were invited to a reception to meet her at the Cardinal’s residence the evening she arrived. Since I was living at the convent at the time, the nuns allowed me to tag along.

About 150 people, mostly priests and sisters, filled the backyard at the Cardinal’s residence. Clearly, Mother Teresa had had a long and exhausting day, having flown halfway around the world, and then having spent the afternoon touring the facility where her sisters tended to the needs of Kingston’s poor. Yet she stood on the porch and spoke softly yet firmly, lovingly yet with great conviction, of the work that needs to be done to tend to God’s children. Clearly, she was preaching to the converted. Her words were of thanks, but also of the reminder of why everyone present was doing the work they were doing, whatever their particular mission. She knew that even the most stout-hearted needed reminding that their work mattered, needed reminding not only of the “what” but of the “why.” After brief, but poignant remarks, she stayed on the porch to greet each person, asking their name and about their role. I was last in line, so after we spoke briefly, she took my arm and I escorted her off the stage to her waiting van. She was 75 at the time, but walked quickly and with determination. Clearly, she wasn’t done for the evening.

Summary

What can we learn from the Major General and the Saint? First, physical presence matters. Get in front of your people. Make sure they hear your commitment to your ideas, to your ideals, and to them. Second, know what you stand for. Tie those convictions to the motivating forces for your audience. Leading isn’t about you as the leader; it’s about those you lead.

Originally Published on Forbes.com; Republished on Exec|Comm Blog

Tags:  Coaching  Communication Skills  Executive Presence  Leadership Skills  Life Skills 

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