Can you believe that it’s already December? This can be a hectic time for everyone, as end of year work responsibilities collide with personal responsibilities. It’s a time of constant action, as we attempt to get everything taken care of before enjoying a well-earned vacation. However, once all that action has died down, these last few weeks of the year are the perfect time for reflection. We finally have the opportunity to take a moment and think back on our accomplishments, challenges and changes over the previous year – both as individuals and as a collective.
Around this time of the year, I spend a lot of time thinking about the macro in my field. How far have we come in trying to create a diverse and inclusive business environment? I’ve seen strides – the first woman to ever win a major party nomination in the United States, an increased focus on diversity in the tech industry – but we still have a long way to go! So for this month’s Leadership Links, I’m focusing on diversity and inclusion, as well as a few other topics that caught my eye.
(Hat tip to ROIKOI for bringing many of these to my attention.)
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
This piece from Annie McKee in the Harvard Business Review really spoke to me. In it, she explains how leaders are often able to “fake” having a high EQ. They go through the motions of emotional engagement and empathy, without actually committing to them. She rightly points out that professional growth goes hand in hand with personal growth. What happens when you stop being a peer and start being the boss? How does a new power dynamic change the way you relate to people? Here’s a quote that really stood out to me, ”When it comes to self-management, a lot of leaders learn to manage the outward expression of emotion but don’t have a clue about how to deal with deep-seated emotions such as insecurity or how they feel about power and authority.”
In the article, McKee lays out several ways for leaders to self examine how they feel about power and how it affects their work. I’d encourage every leader to do some meditation on her suggestions.
My love of mentor relationships is well documented and this piece by Anna Marie Valerio and Katina Sawyer (also in HBR) was very true to my own experience. In the article, the authors discuss men who mentor women. As I was rising through the ranks of the corporate world, the vast majority of my mentors were men. I’m deeply grateful for these men who chose to be champions for women in the workplace. In their piece, Valerio and Sawyer dig into the traits of men like my mentors, men invested in creating a more equitable workforce. Their findings are quite revealing and show how dedicated male leaders can change the culture at a company from the top down.
Diversity and Inclusion
In 2011, President Obama issued an executive order aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce. Now, the government has released a report outlining everything they learned from that initiative. The report offers concrete recommendations for improving leadership engagement, talent retention, hiring and other important goals through the lens of diversity and inclusion.
The state of diversity in the tech industry has been a hot topic this year. Several major tech companies have delayed releasing their diversity reports, which is not exactly an encouraging sign. Sidney Fussell at Gizmodo has put together a brief, illuminating piece discussing this issue in light of a recent report by First Round Capital that polled hundreds of tech and startup workers about all kinds of things, including diversity. It does very good job of succinctly illustrating the disconnect felt between men and women in tech.