Drink Like a Lady Podcast

I'm Capable, but I Don't Want to Lead with Sue Ashford

June 07, 2022 Joya Dass/Sue Ashford
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
I'm Capable, but I Don't Want to Lead with Sue Ashford
Show Notes Transcript

In this workshop, you will learn the 6 reasons why capable people are reluctant to lead. It's something only people in positions of formal authority should do It's something people are born with rather than something they grow into It's a mindset issue making growth into leadership impossibleIt It will create interpersonal strife or hurt their image If things go south, they will be blamed It's easier to stay focused on the "doing." You have the knowledge. You have the skills. What is stopping you from grabbing the reigns? Join television presenter and founder of the Women's Leadership Academy, Joya Dass, as she engages award-winning scholar Sue Ashford in a conversation around why the most capable are often the least likely to step into leadership roles.

Joya:

Welcome. It is Wednesday. On June 1st. I can't believe we're already at June. And, you know, Sue, I was telling somebody earlier this week that I had done an event in Paris. And, um, one of the things that I did at that event was really tell the story of Coco Chanel, how she invoked wide legged pants and really freeing women to move as freely as their male counterparts. And then I think about women in the seventies who worked very hard to make sure that we had a seat at the table. And yet we are having this conversation today, which is "I'm capable. And I don't want to lead." I welcome Sue Ashford, who is a scholar and has written a book on the topic about why some of the most capable women in the world. Uh, reluctant to lead. So Sue, I actually want to start there. I was telling you a story about someone I met this weekend. I'm out in the Midwest where I'm with my partner and I asked her what her day to day was. And she deferred to her husband to answer the question. Why are women so reluctant to lead?

Sue:

Uh, well, I think it's a disease that doesn't just afflict women, but it may be especially true of women. I think there's a lot of different reasons we can go into, um, some of it, you know, based on your story is probably cultural and historical where not all women got the message from Coco Chanel or. Leaders in the sixties and seventies about women owning their own power and, uh, being their own person. And so there may be based on those sociological and historical factors, some difference to authority, particularly male authority that goes on. So that might be one reason why. More women don't lead. Um, but there's a lot of reasons that apply to women and men, um, that contribute as well.

Joya:

So likability is something that I often refer to, you know, for the longest time when, before women enter the workforce, likeability was their superpower. And have we gotten rid of likability and people.

Sue:

Well, um, likability is not a negative in my mind. People pleasing maybe is, you know, one of the things that you need to do as a leader is balance. You know, you need to balance having your own agenda with being open to the views of others, for example. And so if you're way too much, Open to the views of others. That other words you're trying to please, everyone around you. It's very difficult to lead because people differ in their opinions and what they want from a situation. On the other hand, if you are not a people pleaser at all, meaning you don't pay any attention to what others around you want, uh, various stakeholders in your environment. You're not going to be a good leader. So I do think that that is a balance, um, that people need to keep. And I think likability goes a long way. Uh, we follow people. We like to some extent.

Joya:

All right, Sue. So we promised this audience six, uh, sort of reasons why women are reluctant to lead. So I want to get into the first one, which is that it's something that people should only do if they are in positions of formal authority. I. Umbrage with that statement, given that women have to be leaders as heads of households, as mothers, as the CEO of their own families. So why is leadership something only belonging to people? Informal authority?

Sue:

Um, well, I don't think it is, and I love your broadening of the context where we think about leadership occurring. I'm an organizational scholar. So I think about. Settings and in work settings, I also don't think it's something that only people in positions of formal authority should do. What I argued is one of the reasons people are reluctant to lead is they perceive it as something only for people in positions of formal authority. So they don't think about leading themselves if they don't hold such a position. In fact, organizations actually. Need more people to lead from more places, the world's getting more complex, more dynamic, more uncertain, and we can no longer rely just on a few leaders at the top to make sense out of it. We need people being proactive and leader like from below raising issues, raising concerns, seeing new trends, making sure the organization hears about them. For example, with. Way of thinking about it. And if those people don't do those things, because they think it's only should be done by leaders, people in formal positions of authority, then the organization loses that dynamic capability.

Joya:

What about leadership is something that people are born into rather than something they can actually grow in.

Sue:

Yeah, this is another myth that I think, um, contributes to capable people, not leading is they think, you know, I'm just not a leader type. Um, and this belief about this ability really limits. Their exploration of could they become a leader type? Um, for example, um, so if you believe that leadership ability is fixed and I wasn't born that way, for example, or I don't have it, then you'll literally never try. And part of the way you grow as a leader is by trying, trying to lead from where you are, and then. Having the world grant that identity back to you by following, by affirming what you're doing, et cetera. But if you never try to lead, you'll always stay safe in your belief that it's just not who you are, because you've never tried to do it. So the belief is it fixed and some people are born that way and others aren't or is it variable and people can grow into. Their leadership. And I'm not saying that everyone could be Martin Luther king or Steve jobs, or a Michelle Obama. Who's very charismatic leader, but you can grow from where you are to being more leader. Like if you decide you want to, but this a belief that that is able to happen really matters. If you don't believe it can happen. It's a real deterrent to ever.

Joya:

And so after we finish up with our six points, we are going to get into how you can start to change that. So I'm looking forward to your solutions, to how we can start to change that sort of mindset that we can't grow into becoming a leader. All right. The next one is that people may not like me if I become a leader.

Sue:

Yeah. You know, for the longest time, we just assume that leadership was something everyone wanted to do. Um, and the only task for organizations was to pick those people that could best do it, or they thought could best do it and, and anoint them as high potential leaders. Only recently we've begun collecting data and better understanding this deterrent. Matt is that people have see real risks in leading. And one of them is that it's going to create interpersonal strife if I were to lead. So for example, um, others may want to lead and there'll be conflict. That's something people worry about. Or I'm just going to look bad when I do it. I'm not going to do it well, I'm going to do it awkwardly. And so, because I see those risks and they're salient for me, I don't step up and try to lead out of worry of what it might create problems for me. Or you

Joya:

might come across as too aggressive. You might be coming across as a know it all. And those are things that people shy away from. Why do they shy away from.

Sue:

Well, we all want to be held in some esteem by our colleagues. Um, and so things that we worry might set us apart or make us look bad, you know, that deterrent is there for all sorts of behaviors in organizations. Um, you know, it's just a basic human desire to. You know, be esteemed by our colleagues. So when that we worry that that's going to be compromised, we tend to shy away from leading. Um, we also shy away from other activities that we worry might make us look bad.

Joya:

So the next, next point, why women leaders may be reluctant to actually lead is that they would feel that they would be blamed. I would be responsible if this group fair.

Sue:

Yeah, we have a lot of, um, studies showing that if a group succeeds, the leader, you know, gets all the affirmation from that, uh, that we attend to attribute outcomes to the leader and it's called the romance of leadership. We like to think that single individuals make a huge difference. Um, and, uh, in what happens in an organization or a group. The converse of that then is often also possibly true. And maybe what's on people's minds. If I lead and this thing goes poorly, I also will enjoy the fruits of that, but they won't be ones I enjoy. I will be blamed. People will see, uh, it is my fault, um, that kind of thing. So this was kind of the third concern that we identified that people have on their mind. About leading. Uh, the first was, it might cause interpersonal friction. The second was, it might hurt my image, that idea of coming across as too aggressive or, or too self-important. Um, and then the third was, we called it an instrumental risk, which is, you know, if this doesn't succeed our group effort and I stepped up to lead it, then I'm going to be blamed.

Joya:

Yeah. And I think that one thing that I see I'm in front of my women's leadership, uh, all week long and they make their to-do lists and it's just easier to stick in the doing as opposed to staying in the strategic. So that applies to leadership as well.

Sue:

Yes. This is the number one thing I hear from my executive participants in our programs here at Ross, which is I don't have time to look. I'm stuck in the doing of the doing. Um, and there's actually data on this that shows the more you're in the eat, your email, the less your subordinates, see you as any kind of a transformational leader. Um, and so we all get sucked into that and it's, it is true. It's a real time constraint, but while working with these participants, I get them to see that it's also our comfort zone. Our comfort zone is doing things. Um, that's what God has to where we are. Um, God has to be maybe tapped to be a formal leader, and now we're supposed to do this ambiguous thing called leadership. And I can't tell if I'm doing it well, the outcomes are much longer term than just slipping back and doing the marketing plan or doing the coding. Um, and so. Leaders fall back into the doing, because that's where they're comfortable. And by the way, it's also something their subordinates do to them. Right? The subordinates are anxious about doing a good job, et cetera. So they like to check in with the boss. Um, and if they can, they like to put the problem back on the bosses, shoulders to work on enhancing. Um, and given that bosses are anxious about true leadership and are more comfortable in the doing, they take on those problems. Um, and pretty soon you have absolutely no time for leading because you're too busy doing all the work that your subordinates are anxious about. And so they essentially given it back to them.

Joya:

Right. You know, I had a great conversation with Terry Cole a couple of weeks ago, who wrote a book about boundaries. And when you, as a leader, step in and say, okay, I'm going to fix this for you. I'm going to fix this for you and fix this for you. You're actually robbing that employee or that person, the opportunity to do some real critical problem solving, which is a skill they're going to take with them. Even if they no longer are working with. So, you know, a key I remember in that conversation was to push it back to them and say, well, you're really the person that owns this task. What do you think we should do? And really push it back on them, the jumping in to actually fix it and then robbing yourself of that strategic thinking.

Sue:

Yeah. And in the moment it feels a little difficult. Like you're not giving the subordinate what he or she wants, but you're really giving them what they need over the longterm, which is the ability to grow. And we collude in it as leaders because it gives us a chance to go back and visit our comfort zone, solving the problem rather than leading.

Joya:

Um, we have such it, their comments joining us, Courtney white based joining us. We have a series of questions coming in and I want to get to them in just one second, Sue, but I do want to cover off on just a couple of things since we've already touched on it. So if you are a manager, you are a woman business owner in this case, and you want to figure out a way to change. Um, The way that you're seeing women come across, they're not leading. You want them to step up. What are some quick ways that you can ask for change? One of them is that I like to do is I like to ask people for input. I know that we had a hallway conversation or a virtual hallway conversation about something. Hey, why don't you bring that into this meeting? Because I'm sure everybody would love to hear that greater.

Sue:

Yeah, I love it. You know, I said before that, you know, if you don't think of leadership as something you can do, you're not going to do it. And that's a problem because you won't essentially, you won't claim the identity and the other half of that equation. You grow into the identity of leader more, both when you claim it and it's granted back to you. So that process can start either with a claim or a grant. Your hallway conversation was essentially a grant of leadership. You're basically saying to that person, you've got all the qualities to bring this up to the group. So why don't you, um, you know, Managers can do a lot when they see people that they think have the capabilities, but are not leading by granting the identity to them. That could be, uh, uh, one-on-one soft, subtle hallway conversation where you tell someone. I really think you have what it takes to lead in this organization. I'd love to see more of it. We found that, um, these grants have more impact when they're, uh, more visible and, uh, more, uh, legitimated. So for example, in an organ, in a meeting, you might say as the boss, you know, I really want Courtney to, to lead the preparation for the. Next customer meeting, because I really think she's got what it takes and I'd like to see it in action for this next, uh, preparation. So basically you're granting her that identity in front of others, which makes them more likely to follow her and sets her up well to, um, You know, try out leading. The only problem you have then is you got to kind of spread that around, right? Cause others will have some jealousy about it.

Joya:

Well, one of the ways I like to spread that around is by calling out successes. If I know somebody landed a big client or somebody, you know, enjoyed a breakthrough in the goal that they've been trying to reach, I'll call that out in the group. And I think that's another way to grant leadership as.

Sue:

Yes, love it. Yeah. Beautiful.

Joya:

When you move on and you know, as a manager, inevitably, there might be conflict. And I really love this because a way to change that idea of what conflict is, is to say it's a search for the best idea, as opposed to making this really interpersonal in the first.

Sue:

Hmm. So you're saying you make it about, you're trying to get it off of the people in the personnel. In other words, you're trying to get it to be about the ideas, not the identity of the people talking about.

Joya:

Yeah. You know, my partner, I, I watch him and observe him. He is the managing director of an agency, but even in his personal life, like he is not averse to getting into arguments about ideas, but he can then immediately snap it off and walk away. And it is not. You know, it was a very robust conversation about the ideas in search of a better idea. But I wonder if like we as women almost where that is a grudge afterwards, that was more of an interpersonal conflict as opposed to a robust discussion in search of a better idea.

Sue:

Well, um, stereotypically men are better at it than women, um, or they're better at, uh, not showing if they have the ladder reaction, but the data are really clear that. Uh, conflict that your partner, uh, seems comfortable with it's called task conflict. And that tends to be really good for groups. Really good for group decisions and group outcomes, relational conflict on the other hand, not so good. And so it may take with women leaders and women in groups, some sort of direct attention to try to keep things on the task conflict. Lane and not move out into the relational conflict lane. So it might take an intervention to say, uh, this is good. We really do need to have conflict over these ideas. Uh, let's set our personal identities aside and let's just go for the ideas who else has a perspective who has an additional perspective. And so you really sort of reinforced. Idea conflict, the task conflict, and try to get people to set aside the personal issues. And I think managers have some ability to create culture around those ideas.

Joya:

Um, this one dovetails nicely into such a thing as a question today, which is if you already are in a leadership position and you want people to kind of try out leadership for size fine, low stakes way, maybe it's a routine task that you can sign to some, someone to take over and see how they do. And see if you can start upping the stakes from.

Sue:

I love it. I mean, that's exactly right. You don't want to put them on your most critical tasks given that you don't know, but there are ways you can help people to try out leading. And by the way, when you're thinking about it, this way, you are more in the leader mode, then not thinking about this way, because you're thinking, how do I develop and help that person grow? Which is really leading, how do I help them becoming more part of trying to move our organization or our team in a particular direction, which is leading. So it puts you in a leader mode is.

Joya:

Um, I want to start calling out the questions. Rita S says that it's just easier to fix the problem. Then take the time to walk through it. I think that this is probably one of the top reasons is why women don't move into leadership positions is because they're like, well, I'll just do it because it will be quicker. But think about the time that you're saving on the back end, when you've actually taught someone to do it right the first time. And then you get to stay in that visionary role, as opposed to constantly being in the tech.

Sue:

Um, was that all the question or were you partly answering it to, um,

Joya:

no, I I'm partly answering it, but I wonder when did you to wait? Well, like why is it that we as women just think it's just here to jump in because you know what, we'll just be able to do it quicker and we'll be able to move on, but what what's really happening.

Sue:

Yeah. I mean, a lot of women are just doers, right? We're really good at multitasking. We're really good at getting things done. And that is an identity you might want to take off and try to say, I want to incorporate more of a leader identity into my self-concept and that involves something different than just doing the temptation is always going to be there. I mean, just think about. Five-year-olds and tying their shoes and you're trying to get out the door and you're trying to let them do it because long-term, they need to learn how to tie their shoes. But in the short term, it's agonizing to watch them fumble. When, you know, you could just bend down and do it. So that impulse is always going to be there. It's one. You just need to fight against knowing that in the long run. That's your job as a leader to develop those people. Um, and, and you're going to be a stronger unit. If you can develop more of your people, you know, you may need to create some. Sort of strategies for doing it because you aren't going to be perfect. Your impatience will take over your, your doer nature will take over at some point and it'll seem totally necessary when it does, because time is a wasting, we're getting close to the deadline, et cetera. So you might need to be able to signal to your team. I know, I know these next week is not going to be developmental, but we just need to go. I'm going to dive in with you and then I'm going to pull back out and be your leader. Um, so something like that that allows you to, uh, it's like, like being on a diet, you know, allows you to have a cheat day, allows you to have some cheat time where you are more in the doing, but it also suggests that it will come to an end and you'll go back to your leader mode.

Joya:

Courtney white bay is an exercise physiologist. And sh S do you have any suggestions for women to be able to stand out against other male leaders? How do you stand out in a sea of others? You know, I know she's in the, um, in the wellness space. And so how do you stand out against other male leaders who might be more vocal or might be more out there and in a bigger.

Sue:

Yeah, well, this is a time honored question. So, uh, not try of the total answer to it, but I think there's a couple of ways. First of all, you have to be able to be in the game. So if they're vocal and they stand out, you have to find ways to be vocal and to stand out. So keep exploring that in your setting, how can I be vocal? How can I stand out is important. Um, but then. You know, there's a lot of ways in which what women bring to situations really does stand out in contrast to men, uh, you know, uh, stereotypical doctors don't listen, don't, don't include, um, don't, um, Uh, uh, asked for voice where you could be different than that stereotype based on some more feminine qualities of inclusion, affirmation, that kind of thing. So, you know, I do think there's a chance both to, to, uh, the need, both the play, the game so that you get heard, but also. The ability to stand out as different, which can serve you. Well, you know, our concepts of leadership are really changing from, you know, the seventies, eighties, where it was pretty much individualistic, command and control kind of leadership ideologies. And now we're in what people call a post heroic, uh, era where, you know, it's more about bringing people along. Tapping into and getting the best out of them. And a lot of that calls for more feminine qualities. There's also just say one more thing. There's some interesting research out there on, uh, who stands out as needed and excellent in crisis situations. And the data are really clear that it's women, um, that if you think, who would you choose as a manager in, um, Uh, if you ask people who would you choose as a manager, him or her, um, in if the organizations described or the team is described as successful, doing really well, they tend to pick the guy. If it's described as unsuccessful and struggling by far, they pick the woman. And we don't exactly know why it occurs, but one thought is that women have more skills for these kinds of situations. There's data from early in the pandemic that showed states, headed by women tended to do better on pandemic outcomes, for example. So, you know, that's another possibility, which is if things are going towards a crisis, Stepping in might not be a bad idea. There are obvious risks, but there may be also be some real rewards because your leadership style may really work well and people may be receptive to it in those situations.

Joya:

Yeah. It's interesting that you bring up the idea of risk and suture. I promise I'm going to get to your question, but really when we talk about leadership, we're also talking about. And, um, when you read all the research minority groups, such as myself are more risk averse, so they don't want to step up into leadership positions. Women are also more risk averse. They don't want to step into leadership positions. How do you manage that risk piece?

Sue:

Yeah. Well, I don't know if they're more risk averse. There may be data on that, but the risks are more real for these groups because of some of the things we've been talking about. So, um, You know, how do you manage the risk? I think we've been talking about it, like the example that we gave about the, um, leader finding sort of some easier, more routine tasks to let someone take over and lead might also be less than for the person wanting to be a leader. So you can manage the risk by finding. Some small places to step up and lead some comfortable settings to step up and lead where you do have some more psychological safety, um, and step up and lead in those circumstances. The other possibility is at some point, the issue will matter to you so much that the risks seem worth it. So we've seen that around. Um, you know, people of color following the murders, taking place in the early 2020s, and they're just willing to step up more because the issue just seems so important that the risks no longer seem worth responding to. So I think that can happen for people as well, but risk management is a very contextual. Question right. Just what are the risks in your context? And so the strategies are going to be very contextualized as well. Um, I do like affinity groups in organizations where these kinds of things can be discussed and people can strategize in a very contextualized way.

Joya:

And that's the important piece, right? Yes. You assign the low risk tasks to someone who is aspiring to leadership, but it's also important to take that time, to reflect what worked, what didn't work, what we do better the next time you're pushing for a higher stakes assignment.

Sue:

Yeah.

Joya:

So do you throw asked, what would you say to women when they're part of, let's say a board where there's both men and women counterparts. And women are given the more trivial or traditional responsibilities because there's a perception about women and the key responsibilities that Neverland with the women. What would you say to such a threat as quick question?

Sue:

Yeah, it's a tough one, right? Um, because, uh, you know, you don't want to be. Pushy or that, you know, you don't want to alienate the rest of the board. Um, I guess the thought I would have is that first of all, do a great job on whatever that trivial thing is. Uh, nail it, routinize it, make it. So it's not taking too much of your time, uh, through routinizing and, and figuring out efficient ways to get it done and then make sure that people know that you're on it. You've got. You're rock solid on those issues. Um, and then begin asking the chair for other responsibilities. Um, it's really the asking, you know, I teach crisis management for teams of women and, um, this idea that women get given things that are problematic, you know, one woman talked about in her company, she, she was. The executive group, but she was in a staff role and she wanted a line responsibility because that's where the power was. So it's an analogous issue to the one you're talking about on the board. And she just said, I just kept asking. And finally they said, here are three lines of business. They're all failing. You can do that. And she said, well, how about if I just take two? Um, she took two and did well. So I think, you know, making sure you're rock solid on handling what you have been given, no matter how kind of insulting it is, but then also to be asking for more and different responsibilities, maybe showing your preparation. I know good boards do a lot of development of their board members showing that you've been to those works. You've been to the conferences that are dealing with say the financials, if that's where you want to go. And then continuing to ask for responsibilities in those areas.

Joya:

Uh, Sue, sorry. My internet connection is not so great, but I love, I love the answer that you gave to that. I would also say, and again, this comes up in discussions with, with my women leaders in my peer mentoring calls during the week, which is what can you do to make the. Chairperson or that other person look better. My grandmother has a phrase that she's like, you have to look beyond what people want and see what they need. And so can you anticipate those needs and have those done to make that person look better or show, you know, show up stronger. And that's always a great way to show them that you are absolutely capable and those trivial tests are okay, but you're capable of so much more Edina seniors. Dina secrets question is what is the best way to get constructive feedback from colleagues to help lead in a way that is effective for them?

Sue:

Yeah. This is an issue I've been studying since my dissertation, which was on this topic. Um, and. We've actually studied, uh, this, um, across what we call stakeholders. So how, what's the best way to get feedback from your boss, from your subordinates and from your peers? Because when you're doing something as subjective as leading how those people view you really matters, so you can tailor your leadership, but also so that they can support you. Growing leadership responsibilities. Um, and we looked at two strategies. One is you can monitor, you can pay attention to how they are reacting to you and acting towards you and draw a message from that. Uh, you know, we do this all the time. You're walking down the hallway. You see someone come coming towards you. You guys are both monitoring each other. Which side are we going to cross on? Who's going to be on the left. Who's going to be on the right. Are we going to say a low or not say a low or you can act like we know each other. Don't know each all of that is just monitoring subtle. And it's one way we get feedback all the time. It seems very safe because we don't have to reveal that we want the feedback. We just are reading the cues. Uh, it has a real problem, which is we can get it wrong all the time. You know, if you're anxious about whether you're going to be successful and you're walking down the hall and someone doesn't acknowledge you, you can say, oh, that's it. I knew I wasn't going to be successful. Um, and you can misinterpret those cues. The other way you can get feedback is directly asking for it from various people. This also has a little problem with it, which is if you're higher in power. They're going to tell you what they think you want to hear. So you don't always get good, accurate information. Um, if you're a minority there's data showing that people don't want to give accurate feedback because they're afraid of all sorts of things. And so, so it is hard. So you have to think about, um, where you ask when you ask. Who you ask, how you ask all of the, so it's, it's much more subtle than you would think. Um, but at the molar level, we found that managers who asked their stakeholders for feedback, particularly if they indicated an interest in negative feedback were seen as more effective by everyone, by their boss, by their subordinates and by their peers. And we ended up concluding it wasn't we ended up showing that it wasn't because they had a more accurate sense of self, but there was this direct path and we ended up concluding that it's because it showed that you cared and people reacted super positively to that demonstration of caring. Um, and so that's the finding. So you might want to try to figure out how to incorporate inquiry. Asking directly for feedback in a way that ups, the possibility of people really giving you accurate feedback.

Joya:

Yeah. I put a series of questions that I, um, have shared with others, which is how have I been taking care of the team? How can I better support you in your work? Have you noticed any gaps in my professionalism and what skills can I improve to be a better. Um, or what do I do? Well now, what can I improve on in the future? Are there any questions that you would add to that? So if you're going to go the direct route, um, has asked actually saying she's taken the direct approach in her one-on-one meetings, where she's asked, how can I be a more effective HR partner to you and your.

Sue:

Love that. Yeah. Yeah. I like what she said. I like the doing it routinely. Um, and also, and the question seemed fine. I think, you know, you, you could make it not so directly. You could decide how directly you want it to be about you. You could make it, how can we be a better, how can I help make this a better functioning team? You know, then it's not so much on how did I do. Uh, in last week's meeting it's future-focused, but chances are their suggestions are going to be based on how they saw you. In last week's meeting. There's also a recent study that showed that seeking feedback had some effect, but what really had an effect was sharing the feedback you received. Um, and so it's only one study, but that might be another thought for people that if you seek feedback, um, You could share with the team, the feedback you received and then know that people are going to be looking at, what do you do in reaction? Uh, one of my, one of my studies showed that you could be a leader that gives a vision and that produces high outcomes for the team. And this was actually for organization. Or you can be a leaders who seeks feedback. Um, and if you are that basically lets the top management team know they're in it with you. And that also produces high outcomes. And I was saying to one of my friends who held a leadership role, I go, well, you know, you could just, vision is hard. You could just do the simple thing of seeking feedback. She goes, what makes you think that simple? You know, it's hard to, because once I seek feedback from my team, they're going to be watching. Do I do anything with it, and you may not agree with all the feedback that you've received. So you don't want to, you want to act on this piece, but not on that piece. And so it's a little more complicated, but share this one study showed that if sharing the feedback you got and how you're thinking about it, um, made an impact. It also creates more of a culture that this is what we do here. We seek feedback and share about it.

Joya:

Yeah, I think that it's, if you can view, if you flip the paradigm and say, this is really an opportunity for me to grow, to grow with you, to grow alongside you, as opposed to getting defensive, then you can really make feedback a very important part of your growth as a leader. And as somebody who wants to be a leader, what ha what is one tip that you would offer though, to help with the defensiveness? Because you immediately, immediately people get back on their haunches. Some people don't take feedback very well. What's one tip that you would offer to be able to take feedback better.

Sue:

Yeah, well, it actually goes back to one of the, um, six reasons that we skipped. Which is why don't capable people step up to lead. And I answered they're locked in a performance proof mindset. So Carol Dweck's, uh, Carol Dweck did work on the mindsets. We bring to achievement situations, which is our entire organizational life and our life as a leader, um, and said, you know, you can either have what she first called a learning orientation. Um, or a, um, uh, uh, performance prove orientation. And if you have a performance prove orientation you're, which is very common, it's like was reinforced by our school systems. It's, it's kind of our dominant orientation that we've been, we've been socialized into, which is my job is to prove that I've got this and that I've got it. I have this ability. Um, and it goes back to thinking that the ability is fixed and you need to prove that you have it. You don't want to take on assignments that. You maybe aren't going to show that you have it. So you, so you're very reluctant to take on anything where your ability is uncertain. Um, and it's a mindset. That's I call it a clenched jaw mindset. You go into achievement situations, just wanting to prove that you're great and you're better than everybody else. The other mindset is more of a learning mindset, which is my goal is to get. At this leadership thing over time. Um, and to do that, I'm going to put myself into situations where there's more learning possible. Um, uh, so I, not something I already know how to do, but something new for me where I'm gonna learn the most, both groups want to perform well, but it's the attitude you bring into those performance situations. So the best way. To respond to feedback you receive in a non-defensive way is to have worked on the orientation that you brought into that situation to begin with. If you're in learning mode, have a learning orientation or what Carol Dweck called a growth mindset. When she wrote her popular press book, if you have that orientation feedback seems useful, it's a gift. If you're in a performance prove mindset, your goal is to show, show, show how great you are. Feedback is a threat. Um, and so the best thing you can do is try to goose yourself into a learning mindset. So people have done it in a variety of ways. Uh, some people set an app on their phone to hit them, right? When they're going into work that says learning in everything I do today. Um, and. You know, that just things that put them in that mindset, allow them to be more open to feedback.

Joya:

I'm curious too, if you would go back to situ throws question about getting assigned more trivial tasks, even though she's on the board with other men and other women, is that an opportunity to go back and even after she's completed a trivial task to say, Hey, I'd love some feedback. Is that a way to start to insert yourself into bigger task?

Sue:

Sure. I mean, you know, the data we showed, we we've collected showed that if you have an interest in feedback, in other words, you ask and you seem open to negative feedback, you're seen as more effective by everyone. So if you're going into it like fishing for praise, That didn't have the same effect. Um, I can't remember if it was neutral or negative at this point, but it did not have a positive effect. So it would depend on how she went to the board chair. Um, I think a better way might be to, um, Go back to another thing you talked about, and by the way, both this feedback stuff and reflection, which is where I'm going to go next are in my book, uh, as practices that allow you to grow your leadership, um, you might go with more of a reflection. I've been doing this, this, this assignment that you've given me for a year, whatever it's 18 months. And I really feel like here's what I'm taking away from. For the company, here are some insights. And for me, here's some things I've learned. Um, you know, my ultimate goal is to do things that, um, to do X or Y and, and say why, why you're interested in those too. Um, I wouldn't say that are more central. I wouldn't say anything that denigrates what you've been doing, treat it as if it's an amazing thing, but show your learning and show, thereby show your interest in learning. And clarify that your goal is to get into some other areas, but now they have a little more confidence that you're a person that not only has done this job in a rock solid way, but is clearly learning from it as they can.

Joya:

Hmm. I love that. It's something that I teach in my, in my masterclass, my public speaking masterclass, which is that for you to be very vulnerable and share a story is one way to do public speaking, but it remains a dear diary entry until you say, here's my understanding of having gone through. That process or having gone through that experience, that's when it becomes a gift for the audience. So I love that. You're kind of bringing that together. Even if you're looking to insert yourself into larger, larger leadership roles, Rita says that there's always room for improvement. He loves that. Rita, do you have another question? I think that we have Sue for a couple more minutes. So you have your book behind you, the power of flexes thing for anybody, any of the ladies here who would like to read your book? What's the top takeaway that someone that is looking to insert themselves into a larger leadership role can take from.

Sue:

Well, the data show that if you talk, if you've asked people that have risen very high in organization and are considered effective, cause those aren't always the same. How did you get to be the leader? You are? They say that 70% of their learning comes from their experiences. The book outlines ways in which you can learn more. About your personal effectiveness from those experiences? Because in fact, we often go through our experience. Somewhat mindlessly, just racing from one to another focused on where we're going focused on, where we've been, and we lose a lot of that learning. Um, and so the book is a set of practices, some of which we'd been talking here today, feedback, seeking reflection, managing your mindset, but a set of practices that allow you to learn more from experience and therefore enable you to be a better. I wrote the book based on my leadership development work in the publishing process, the, the publisher said this really applies to growing your personal effectiveness. Generally, whether it's as a parent, as a sibling, as a daughter. And so the book is written in that broader brush, but all of it comes from how do you grow as a leader?

Joya:

So reflecting back what I heard, it's a series of questions that can help you become a little bit of a detective you've gone through all of these experiences, but what have you learned? And maybe even one step further.

Sue:

Yeah. The reflection part suggests that maybe you set a set of questions for yourself, for you to do reviews after you've gone through. Uh, troubling experience or, uh, a, uh, dramatic experience or of super fantastic experience so that you get the learnings out of them and that, but that's just one step.

Joya:

So what is one question that I should've asked you today that I haven't asked you?

Sue:

Hmm. I suppose it's the legacy question, which is. You know, how, how should leaders think about their legacy? And I'm raising it mostly because we're talking about women in leadership and women leaders. And I really think legacy matters. You know, it's just so surprising to me how just for, in my career, just showing them. Has mattered to other people. I was talking to a staff member in our executive education arm the other day. And she was an MBA student during my first year on the faculty here. And she said all the women were at Twitter because we had a woman faculty in our core courses, they had never had. But like, I didn't know, I'm just doing my thing, you know, but, but it really mattered to them, you know? They're like, did you talk to her? Did you, you know, it's like, it seems silly because it's just me, but symbolically we matter. And so thinking about legacy, what is it? I want to leave behind another way to think about it. A colleague did a sec session on coaching and she said, you know, when I think about my life, I have a list of people who just made a huge difference. And then she challenged the class whose list will you be on? And I think that's a legacy kind of question, you know, whose list will you be on because you offered them a leg up because you listen because you help them reflect because you've taught them how to lead because you encourage them to lead. You know, I think it's a super important question for all of us and especially for women.

Joya:

I love the legacy question, because I actually did this exercise with my members of my mastermind, where I asked them to write their own own obituary. And that sounds at the outset to be very morbid, very noir, but actually. Fully, it's forcing you to answer the very question. What is your legacy? What are people going to be standing and saying about you at your funeral? And if, if what if you don't like what you're thinking about then maybe this is an opportunity now to start to reverse engineer and change that there was one woman leader in general, who came to the realization. So much of her identity was wrapped up in her work and that happiness and taking time and love were actually the things that she wanted more than anything in the world. And I was like, well, you're not dead yet. You have the opportunity right now to be able to say, I want to make a change. You can start to make those changes now. So I think that that legacy question is a good one, but it's, it's an important one because it makes you wake up and realize that there's another path here. So it's been great to have you thank you for answering all the questions here today. If anyone wants to get ahold of your book or wants to work further with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch with.

Sue:

Super easy, Susan ashford.com. Um, and you can find, uh, access to the book stuff about talks that I do. Also, you can take a quiz on how, how good are you just currently at the power of flexing, um, but I'd love to interact with any of your listeners. Uh, I love trying to help women and being a part of trying to make a difference in that.

Joya:

Thank you Sue. And I want to remind everyone who's listening here today that I do offer a mastermind for women leaders who are very certain about a goal and need the accountability and the group around it in order to achieve it. And so I am now taking applications for the 2023 cohort. My email is up there. If you'd like to email me and we can certainly talk about what that will look like for you going into next year. So always great to speak with you. Thank you so much for sharing.

Sue:

I enjoyed it. Thanks. Good luck to everybody.