Out to Launch

A big thanks to Mo's World, whose Technorati-tagged posting about BlogHer also included a pointer to Ladies Who Launch. This looks like a great site for women entrepreneurs, and I'm looking forward to meeting more women technology consultants through the site. I also hope that I can be a resource for some of the women business owners who need a boost in the technology area.

I recently read Gail Evans "She Wins, You Win", and was impressed with her reasoning. The main idea of the book is that as women in business, we are all on "the women's team" as well as "the company team" or "the department team" etc. As such, we all need to make more connections with other women in our organization, and outside of it, and help each other along. The default for many women in business seems to be to see other successful women as rivals.

I found that the 'blinding light' idea in this book, and the one that made the most personal impact on me, was the following set of observations, pulled from various places in the book. Together they add up to a big whammy!

  • Men are generally acculturated to the idea of teams, and don't expect or require to get along with or even LIKE everyone on their team. It's enough to be going toward the shared goal, and to share a victory.
  • At least one study showed that women are highly resistant to the idea of forming 'teams' with people they don't also like, and feel a friendship connection toward.
  • Women are generally acculturated to get a lot of self-worth from the concept that they are unique in some way. Meeting similar women can set off a defensive reflex to try to undermine or simply dislike the other woman, especially if she seems more skilled/senior in one's own specialty. Business culture often encourages this by picking one woman in an organization to be 'the woman who is different', eg who can succeed with the boys.
  • Men in business culture generally take one or more of the 'up and coming young men' in their organization as a protege, and grow their network with successful people while also contributing to that success.
  • Men also tend to have 'their people' follow them to new positions, whereas a woman in a new position tends to want to 'wait and see' to give the folks reporting to her a 'fair chance'.

I'd say that the last observation was the one that rocked me back the most. "What? Come into a place and already be planning to bring a team in with you, to supplant the one already there?! That's so *completely* unfair!" Then I thought about it and talked to one of my mangement mentors (a man) about it, and was equally shocked to find that, yes, it's de rigeur. He mentioned that in his experience, the amount of change you can bring to an organization (as a high-level manager or C-staff) is at its peak when you first join. It's crucial to deliver results immediately, and the best way to do that is with people you can already rely on. The 'give them all a month or two' approach, ipracticed by default, can be a powerful form of self-sabotage. Yikes. My friend also made the point that you certainly should look assiduously for the folks who are *very good* and who might soon be following 'their guy' to the new place. Those people can be courted, and possibly swayed to your team. But by and large the organization will judge you not only by your own efforts, but by the quality of team that you bring with you and attract to you-- that's *why* high-level management rates big compensation. They bring talented, busy hands *with them*.

I'm already trying to practice the 'she wins, you win' strategy. I took the time to chat with the woman who was visiting to set up a CRM installation, instead of just making sure she could log in. We had a great talk, and I hope to catch lunch with her next time she's on site. She knows a LOT about how company sales and finance workflows look, because she has to interface this system to different companies for a living. So she's got a handle on what works, what doesn't, and what 'normal' looks like, all things that I'm just starting to learn. She was very interested in the idea of enterprise IT, and wanting to understand that better because it relates to how folks access and use the CRM system. So I'm looking forward to another chance to dialog, and I think we'll both learn some good stuff!

And now it's really, really, REALLY time to catch the train up to the Business Blog conference in SF!


Post a Comment

<< Home