“It’s Not Prejudice, But …” Oh Wow.

Prejudice is a blindness. Here’s a perfect example, reported by Coco Liu in the South China Morning Post [SCMP] recently. (I’ve written about some great things – for example this – happening in the business world in China, but not today).

Luo Mingxiong is a venture capitalist. Please show some sympathy, as he is like a blind man who has decided that he also needs to insert ear plugs in case his senses happen to pick up any information that doesn’t fit with his pre-set ideas.

In January 2017 he made a presentation in Beijing, stating that “we usually don’t invest in female chief executive officers”, listing that factor as one of his top 10 reasons not to invest in a company, along with negative attributes like dishonesty and the inability to learn. He went further, declining in general to invest in companies with women on the Board even if the CEO is male. 

Why? 

“It’s not because of any kind of prejudice” he said. “But […] What do women do better than men, except giving birth?” And “Because it shows that the entrepreneur can’t recruit equally excellent and ambitious male executives.” SCMP “This Week in Asia” 22-18th January 2017.

Wow.

In which universe is that NOT screaming the word PREJUDICE? Blind & deaf, he’s leaving the field to much more discerning and intelligent investors. He’s been able to conveniently overlook the stream of statistical evidence that has emerged over recent years to show that companies do better with a balanced, diverse leadership. Here’s one major example. Oh, and here’s how this could add $12 trillion USD to global growth. 

My question to you, dear reader, is this: how can we respond when faced with this kind of wilfully blind prejudice? 

Do we sweep it under the carpet and pretend it has nothing to do with us? Do we prompt competing investors to grab the opportunities and demonstrate success? Do we actively seek such people out and attempt to challenge their world view? 

One powerful response is for those close to the individual – family, friends, colleagues, peers, even courageous direct reports – to express their own alternative view. Stand up, draw a line in the sand and refuse to allow such ‘alternative facts’ to go unquestioned. The earlier the better. 

Being wealthy or famous doesn’t make people right, or wise. 

Kung Hei Fat Choi.

Your Coach, Hugh 

 

Do Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence?

Today I want to share a fascinating piece of research by Dr. Travis Bradberry, the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

It shows that average levels of emotional intelligence (EI) drop off the further above middle management that people are. However, the kicker is that at every level, the most successful leaders are those with the highest EI!

It seems that selection panels increasingly fail to value genuine leadership skills the higher up the organisation you go, in favour of the simple, short term, bottom line metrics.

So should you hide your ability to empathise, understand, connect, and inspire others? Or should companies shake up their selection processes and criteria and start making better decisions about who to appoint?

Read more at the following link, where Travis also shares some suggestions on how to boost your performance and outshine the competition, at whatever level you currently find yourself . Highly recommended reading.

Why Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence

Being a “Bitch”

I’ve never, to my  knowledge, been described as a bitch. It just doesn’t come into anyone’s mind. Why? Well, I’m the classic white, middle aged, straight bloke. I do certainly get pigeon-holed, and people do make certain assumptions about me – but there’s nothing as damning as this particular word.

Is there a word that conveys the same meaning for a man as the word ‘bitch’ does for a woman? The same managerial behaviour is often described as a woman being ‘a bitch’, while a man is apparently just being ‘the boss’. It seems all too common for similar behaviour by different people to be perceived through different lenses. And with significant implications. Or there’s cow, versus bull – “You’re a cow!” is very different from “You’re a bull!”

Here’s a fuller article about this from Business Review Weekly.

Minolta DSC

Build Lifelong Resilience

Two Young Executives Sitting on Space Hoppers

Our long term success depends on our long term social, emotional and physiological health. If we don’t consistently invest in building and maintaining these, they erode and will trip us up, sooner or later.

Even a few hours sitting at a desk affects concentration and productivity, as this limits the oxygen getting to the brain. And eventually inactivity and poor nutrition lead to major career breakdowns, caused for example by strokes and heart disease.

We all need a strong network of relationships around us, in both professional and personal life. We need friends, partners, mentors, team buddies, leaders, experts in areas that we are not, advocates, sponsors. We have to get into situations where we connect with such people. Then it takes time and will to invest in building and maintaining these relationships. Take anyone for granted and they may not be there when we need them!

And we need to have the confidence in ourselves to overcome our inner critic, to experiment and sometimes fail, to take criticism and hard knocks, and to bounce back even stronger for the experience.

Don’t put this off. Take action, and keep taking action, in all three areas.

My Secret Weapon of Understanding

I’d like to share one woman’s account of her coaching experience. Although a true story, in the spirit of anonymity, I have protected her identity. What could you transfer to your own situation? 

“I work in a mercenary and male dominated environment. Despite having been with the company for almost ten years and achieving a senior management position, I still found that when I smiled and said hello to the CEO in the corridor he would just keep walking. If I raised a point in meetings, he would take no notice.

I approached Hugh in search of some clarity and a way forward having considered options for short and long term goals. I was looking for a sounding board, a guide, someone on my side in helping explore and navigate successfully through the challenges I faced.

What really blew me away were insights into people who I found challenging and had historically been resistant to dealing with me. Yes, it’s a challenging environment to be a woman at senior management level in one of the main industry player’s organisations however I am determined to prevail in this climate. Having Hugh was like having a secret weapon of understanding. I finally had a magic key to connect with and influence my colleagues. I was able to understand the game that was being played without being drawn in or having it play out on me.

Let me share some key examples.

• We considered situations where I felt ineffective and devised ways to keep my character, gender and values intact without being drawn into the game in the same way others were; and developed strategies to deal with future occasions successfully; and I developed a sense of mindfulness in really seeing what is going on.

• Getting past decisions made behind closed doors by influential key players. Hugh suggested that in this environment, there is a parallel with being a sole trader in the open market. I could market myself to the high powers in much the same way. It’s all about perception of those who have the power to be your allies, those that matter in the organisation.

• Hugh helped me to realise the need to have around seven points of contact in marketing myself within the company. This created a new situation – unlike at the start, now the CEO always goes out of his way to say hello. He clearly rates and values me. It’s important to have this sense of presence in the business.

• I learned the ‘currencies’ of the various people around me – understanding what they value, what they trade in, what provokes their interest. I thought I may have surprised the CEO. I learned that for him, going quiet indicates real interest, so I can then follow it up with confidence that he wants to know more. The CEO is an ex-man’s man who has become a family man and full of new ideas. It has become clear that he loves ideas. So giving him ideas, rather than fully fledged proposals, is crucial to that connection.

• I began getting insights into the mindsets of the other important people in the company, each with a different currency, or set of triggers and ‘what’s important to them’. This all ties in to understanding what it is to be vulnerable in a competitive environment, and the different ways that people try to cope with that.

Overall my experience with Hugh most definitely exceeded expectations. As well as fulfilling my original intentions, Hugh gave me the confidence to experiment, to “break the rules”, whether with my own fears or assumptions, or with the oppressive and seemingly suffocating convention which had crept into the company culture.

I now apply myself with new vigour and sense a great ‘breath of fresh air” from applying new approaches developed with Hugh, and looking back I consider working with Hugh as one of the best career investments I’ve ever made”.

Today’s experiment: How can you better understand the difficult people you have to work or live with? One idea is to try listing at least 10 positive things about them, and if that’s easy make it 20!  What else can you learn and apply from this client’s experience?

My Heroes: Unity Dow, Botswana

Sydney, Friday 4th March 2011, UN International Women’s Day Centenary Breakfast.

I was among 1,700 people who were blown away by Unity Dow and her story. Humble and funny, quiet and determined, a village girl who took on the constitution and existing national culture and won. When her American husband went back to college and became a dependent, their children were then deemed to have become non-Botswanan citizens. If it had been the other way round, that would not have been the case.

So Unity gave her government 30 days’ notice that she was going to sue them, did so, and won every stage of the legal arguments over the next 5 years.

To their great credit, the government then accepted that there was something wrong with their constitution and started a national consultation exercise. One village chief was incensed by the perceived weakness of her husband in allowing her to be the head of her family … so came down strongly in favour of allowing the constitution to be changed to give women equal status, as she had proved that this was now the reality!

Unity is now Botswana’s first female High Court judge and a living example of how to combine traditional values, respect, and citizenship with a burning sense of justice – and success in changing things permanently for the better. My hero!

Sexism on Wall St

I thought we had made more progress than this!

Shocking levels of sexist discrimination apparently continue to exist on Wall Street. And what is most shocking is the level of blinkered unawareness of the (allegedly) guilty parties. These people seem to be completely blind and deaf and can’t recognise their own crass stupidity, which is depriving companies and whole economies of a whole raft of talent, and deeply affecting the lives of those who have been unfairly treated.

Is it the same in ‘developed’ economies everywhere? I know for sure that the sly practice of excluding women from key business meetings happens in Australia and the UK.

In my view the only way to blast through these closed attitudes is to introduce quotas, giving companies and organisations sufficient notice to give them time to train and hire diverse talent for Boardroom and senior management positions. The issue has to be forced, as people who are completely unaware that they have a problem will voluntarily change! They will continue to blame others (especially women) rather than take responsibility for making things improve.

See Susan Antilla’s article from the Sydney Morning Herald on 10th April 2010 for fascinating stories and evidence:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/sexism-alive-and-well-on-wall-street-20100409-rymk.html

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