This election season has been rough. Whatever position you stand for, it has been frustrating and even embarrassing to watch. But there are lessons in every experience and there are (surprisingly enough) lessons to be learned from this election.
Women's Rights- is it the early 1900s again?
It's time I start taking the time to talk about being a woman. A woman engineer. A woman leader. A woman. Growing up with four older brothers, I have always tried to fit in as "one of the guys."
I would get upset at my fellow female peers in college for standing up for their rights. Why? They did it by putting down men and trying to be better than them. That wasn't the way up. But now as I look to climb the corporate ladder, it's apparent there are differences. How we handle those differences is what counts.
With a women senator running for president and a top businessman of our nation accused of not respecting woman as our primary candidates, the topic comes up: directly and indirectly.
There are issues that we ignore all too often. Women (in general) are submissive. A recent Ted Talk spoke about how women created the gender gap. It's controversial to say but if an offer is set in front of you, what's the percentage of women who counter?
Women need to stand strong. Confident. Again, there are differences in our tone, our body language and even our ability to bear children.
It's okay to be direct about the issues. We may need to talk over others or put double the time in something, but our results will carry us to the top.
Otherwise, we'll continue to fall behind.
I've had a couple of older posts on communication. What this election taught me is that you gain nothing if you don't listen. Candidates cut each other off. They respond to one or two words of their opponents rather than listening to the whole statement. And because they're listening to stories in their head, while trying to squeeze in a word or two, perceptions get created.
In the business world, it's critical to listen to your peers and stakeholders. It is a better judgement of character to have a pause in your words, rather than speak inappropriately. It is quite - Powerful.
Of course it's hard to listen to someone you don't trust. Someone who doesn't carry any weight. But by trying goes a long way to the people watching. Usually, in a room of eight people, two dominate the conversation. So what are the other six thinking?
It's similar to the last three debates. Millions of people sat and watched the two candidates go at it. For me, it was their body language and how they responded. (Yes, the content was important for the issues that mattered most to me.)
In the end though, I'll respect any leader who can communicate well. You're being watched. What impression do you want to leave?
The World Is Bigger Than Your Backyard
I've applied for a few manager positions in the last couple of years. My resume and cover letter screamed "overconfident." I knew I had this. I knew what I wanted. What I was going into. I nailed it.
But I didn't. I stepped back and asked myself why? I got great feedback in most cases and no feedback in others. So I approached a manager who was going to seek out a director position.
He thought he was ready. That he had all the credentials. Someone sat him down and said, great I'm sure you do. In this case, it'll be easy for you to write out what you know and what you don't know.
Humbling enough, the gap was bigger than he imagined.
Watching the candidates bash each other's credentials, I thought of one example of what do you know and what don't you know.
Yes, we outsource. But what are the reasons? Cost of course. Well, it's really about profit. Foreign regulations vary from country to country. There are some regions you can't sell in because it's not manufactured in a specific country. And there are some regions you can't work in because you're not a citizen.
My message: it's critical to understand the total system. Why do things occur the way they do? Don't get caught up in the symptom but dig for the root cause.
As a growing leader, I'm often seeking out opportunities to learn and adapt. Watching two presidential candidates is supposed to be inspiring. One day, one of these candidates will walk into a room and people will stand as "Hail To The Chief" is played.
Right now, it's difficult to see such an anthem played. As much as I want to be CEO tomorrow, I think I'll prevent the eye rolling and scoffs behind my back.
Leadership is about service. About presence. About credibility.
Demonstrate all three with flying colors and you'll be a natural born leader.