Posts categorized “dr. randall p. white”
Since co-authoring Breaking The Glass Ceiling: Can Women Reach The Top Of America’s Largest Corporations? in1987 (paperback in 1994), we’ve seen great progress in the advancement of women in business.
Last week Katrin Bennhold noted in International Herald Tribune that breaking the glass ceiling is now happening, somewhat ironically, with the examples and initiatives of men. She writes of an ambiguous landscape in gender equity:
In the early 21st century, women in the developed world find themselves in a peculiar place. With boys failing in school and working-class men losing their jobs to the economic crisis, pundits predict not just The Death of Macho (Foreign Policy, September 2009) but The End of Men (The Atlantic, July/August 2010).
Reality is more nuanced. Women earn more doctorates, but less money. They are overtaking men in the work force, but still do most housework. They make the consumer decisions but run only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
“In theory, we now have equal rights,” sighed one senior female executive at a French multinational, who tellingly requested anonymity for fear of riling the men at her company. “In practice, we still have babies.
In the Western world, motherhood remains the barrier to gender equality…MORE”
Bennhold suggest that the more women-focused adjustments of the first wave of workplace gender equity, such as maternity leave, are vital but also reinforce the role of women as primary caregivers…caregivers who don’t get leadership positions, despite their qualifications.
Some organizations are putting the mantle of nurturer on dads by stressing the importance of paternity leave and by putting more men in charge of gender diversity as a matter of building greater awareness of sexism among the sex that still makes the most money and gets the most promotions. While we’ve seen that blatant sexism is less prevalent than it once was, male leadership still hasn’t completely grasped the fact that high-performing women are often high-performing moms who can’t invest the same levels of extra-curricular time on their careers.
In coaching and learning interventions dealing with diversity, it’s time to marshal men to balance the workplace leadership as they get back in touch with their family responsibilities.
Giving the next generation strong father figures would not only help explode the glass ceiling, it might also be the best hope for those failing boys in school who lack male role models. MORE
Since Phil Hodgson and Executive Development Group partner Randy White published Relax, It’s Only Uncertainty in 2001, we have seen not only validation among the executives we work with, but also greater interest in the challenges of ambiguity in business.
At this week’s SIOP Annual Conference in Atlanta, Sandy Shullman and Randy were encouraged and delighted by the collaborative responses to the two half-day presentations. There appear to be some emerging perspectives on the subject as it relates to the practical applications of learning professionals. People in the field see a need to measure tolerance for ambiguity and the uncertainty that it brings in their quests for potential leaders in their organizations.
It became apparent to us that this “aptitude for ambiguity” is indeed a trait sought by learning organizations like yours and a trait that can be developed.
As with most of our work, our study of ambiguity is a process that is informed and advanced by the questions learning executives bring. Presently, we are further developing our 360 assessment Ambiguity Architect®, so these kinds of mini-focus groups are invaluable. If your firm is interested in learning more about our work on ambiguity, please contact us via e-mail.
Drs. Randall P White and Sandra L Shullman are featured authors in the April issue of CLO Magazine. Writing on Ambiguity Leadership, Randy and Sandy advance the idea that an aptitude for ambiguity and the ability to be comfortable amidst uncertainty are traits that can be measured and developed. Also, they assert that research suggests that they are traits of high-performers. From the article:
Research done by the Executive Development Group suggests that the ability to positively manage uncertainty may be an essential trait of effective leaders, often found in those considered high potentials. Evidence shows it can be measured and learned.
Based on interviews with numerous C-level executives around the world, Elizabeth Mellon, executive director of Duke Corporate Education, said mindset — more than personality and behavior — forms an observable pattern among some of the most successful leaders and that a fearless approach to uncertainty is required.
“C-suite executives reveal a high degree of being comfortable with discomfort,” Mellon said. “They accommodate ambiguity and the uncertainty it brings. They are confident in making decisions that move their organizations into uncharted territory because they know this ensures long-term prosperity. They have ‘solid cores’ that allow them to navigate the unknown and accept not knowing everything. And they tend to have a longer view because they see time as a continuum in which uncertainty will come and go as they progress. Being uncertain doesn’t stifle them.”
Download the whole article for free, here.
In this month’s CLO magazine:
It’s nice to be needed. There’s been an uptick recently in coaching and executive education engagements in South Africa, India, France, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and, ever so gradually, the United States. Organizations are rethinking their business strategies after the financial collapse.
However, ambiguity abounds. There is an obvious tension — as if “nervous” is the new “strategic.” Management wants results quickly, with a heightened financial vigilance and intensified ROI expectations. We’ve watched participants text reviews of our performance during the sessions. One bad day in class and summary dismissal looms. Read full article here.
We’re seeing greater demands on executive education, but the good news is, businesses that are rebounding seem to acknowledge the role of learning.
Our coaching and classroom engagements during this quarter are taking us to England, Spain, France, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India and South Africa. Given the United States’ role in the 2008 financial crisis, our role as AMERICAN executive development professionals gives us a little more baggage. Especially when our learners are bankers, as many of our clients are.
Dubai from space. Thanks, NASA!
It’s encouraging to note that many of the smaller banks outside of Europe and the US are finding themselves in fairly stable situations with promising opportunity, following the well-deserved dressing down (followed by an arguably undeserved bailing-out) of Western financiers. As executive coaches we’re also thrilled that financial clients around the world are investing in learning initiatives and leadership development.
Should I be surprised when the first eager question I get from an Indian executive is, “will we be covering ethics”?
We have been studying the affects that ambiguity has on leaders for two decades. The uncertainty that we all feel in ambiguous situations appears to be both a challenge and an opportunity. The ability to fearlessly grapple with ambiguity might be a trait that competitive businesses should seek.
The first of the eight “enablers” sought through our 360 assessment “Ambiguity Architect®” is described as “motivated by mysteries.” While the purpose of Ambiguity Architect is to determine a person’s ability to navigate uncertain situations, we find that many of the contributing traits of high rated participants to be those that are desired by scientists, research and development, inventors and entrepreneurs. If the business environment continues to grow in complexity and scale, and we have many reasons to believe that it will, are these roles that grapple with the unknown not increasingly important to leaders across many industries?
Our data suggests high performers can thrive in uncertain situations in which the ambiguity is not a choice nor desirable. We can only speculate much beyond this, but it is compelling to ask: can leaders learn to seek out uncertainty and ambiguity as a business strategy? Does skill at “being uncertain” become a positive motivator for creative solutions by lessening the severity of judgment for “dumb questions.” If we are operating in uncharted waters who is to say we’re on the wrong course? Perhaps there is a new mode or style of leadership that pursues uncertain situations because of these factors.
We’re happy to see that Toronto’s daily newspaper picked up an excerpt from Randy White’s article in Leadership Excellence for its “Monday Manager” column.
He (Randy White) contends that proponents of the so-called “strengths movement” seem to be passing out permission slips to stop stretching yourself in different directions. But relying on your strengths is a surefire path to executive derailment because it promotes stagnation while inhibiting growth and development. READ MORE HERE.
In addition to our inclusion, Harvey Schachter of The Globe and Mail does a nice job compiling progressive leadership and management items from diverse sources, both online and in print.
Randy White offers this audio clip on the drawbacks of strengths-based leadership in this podcast session for Training Magazine.
Training Magazine Network provides a lively social networking environment for learning executives. You may need to log in to hear the podcast.
Randy White writes on uncertainty in American Executive magazine…
Uncertainty is an increasing reality for today’s executives. Those who can thrive as they charge toward the unknown share a predictable mix of savvy, attitude, and behavior.
In this era of uncertainty, we’re watching our greatest leaders emerge. These are folks who ignore the pessimistic attitudes around them, the too many cashed reality checks on the state of the global economy, and the risk and do something completely new. They move toward the unknown as a deliberate leadership strategy. They have to: it’s the only way they know how to behave.
Although we don’t always know what these leaders will do, new research shows that leaders like these share a set of measureable behaviors, including a penchant for risk, a dauntless attitude, relentless curiosity, and great skills—and while some are teachable, many are not.
We recently studied executives around the world using an assessment instrument called Ambiguity Architect. The instrument measures an executive’s tolerance for ambiguity and rapidly changing situations. As we move toward increasingly uncertain times, it’s essential to know an executive’s ability to manage uncertainty.
We find that those who are most adept at leading through uncertainty perform better than their peers, have a greater likelihood of being promoted, and are comfortable leading an organization through the uncharted waters of change.
Surrounded by support
As president, Joe Leonard helped AirTran recover from one of the worst airplane crashes in history and shape the company into one of largest low-cost carriers in the nation. READ FULL ARTICLE.
There are some things your best friend should tell you, so we’ll politely challenge a news release from Cambria Consulting, a firm we’ve admired for years. We wished they had asked for some outside feedback before launching their latest instrument.
The release tells us there is a new way to administer 360-degree feedback without all the bother of an objective facilitator. The product’s main benefit is time savings and a kind of batch processing that allows entire teams to be rated at one time, like “mountains of Julianne fries,” just that easy, just that quick.
From the Business Wire release:
“Using Comparative Rating, managers can evaluate their direct reports together instead of one at a time. This ability to visually compare everyone against the same performance factors not only requires 50 to 70 percent less time, it also provides more accurate assessments. Entire teams and organizations can be assessed simultaneously, with higher completion rates and without rater fatigue. This is a significant benefit to today’s busy managers who would otherwise be burdened by the cumbersome single-rater process.”
The new Cambria360 is, no doubt, a spiffy user-friendly tool. Cambria makes great products. But we wonder if the promotional message obfuscates some of the problems inherent in evaluating such large groups at once. Where is the one-on-one evaluation? As coaches and facilitators, we feel left out.
It certainly is ideally suited for the strength-based leadership movement, with its emphasis on fast results.
Speaking of strengths, the Centre for Confidence and Well-Being in Glasgow, Scotland joins us in challenging the notion of ignoring weaknesses with a review of The Perils of Accentuating the Positive. Thanks, Carol!