If you’ve stopped by to read the Leadership Tutorials for Women, you can go to that section by clicking “Categories” in the right column of this page and then “Tutorials for Women.” You’ll find them a lot more quickly that way.
Also, this response was posted by me on Forbes Women (Linkedin) – September 8th. It’s a response to Richard Branson’s article here.
When Betty Friedan and I were teaching leadership diversity to graduate students in the 1990s, we would not have anticipated that women’s representation at the top of business and government would be so low today. But I’ve been one of the observers of this and if you don’t mind me sounding like a professor for a minute, I’ll share a few conclusions.
Persuasion regarding the benefits of women in leadership positions has not worked – as Richard Branson mentions. Senior managers asking women about the obstacles they face is useful, but women are often hesitant to articulate them or may be unclear about which ones are problematic, especially when many are so well disguised by politics. No one wants to be labeled a “troublemaker” or “loose canon” so much goes unsaid. If you understand politics, however, you are in a better position to express yourself without such fear or concern because you know how things are said and done where you work by those who get ahead. If someone says “You came on a bit strong in that meeting,”instead of worrying about it your answer might be “Someone had to. The issue is much too important to just sit there.”
There are at least 4 types of political arenas in organizations: minimally, moderately, highly and pathologically political. If your style does not fit the arena in which you work or training fails to provide preparation as it usually does, the chances of succeeding are low. For example, a political purist believes deeply that people are promoted on merit. If she works in a highly political organization or division where the only effective political style is street fighting, promotion to high levels is unlikely (see The Secret Handshake for more). Women and men interested in this issue need to understand the politics where they work, their own styles, the degree of fit between the two and what needs to be done to improve that fit. You can find some help with that here http://bit.ly/1eE5kO4
I’ve also just published a novel that shows how politics of the pathological type can stop a highly competent woman in her tracks. It has been on the top 25 of Amazon Kindle Hot New Releases most of the time since it’s publication last month, which may say something about the desire to better understand politics — even in fiction. You might take a look at Shadow Campus.http://amzn.to/19YI7Zc
Whether you work at an large or small organization, in education, for government, or volunteer, politics are much the same. If you understand the politics of your workplace, your chances of promotion are increased considerably. The issue of fairness has not won the argument for women and neither has repeatedly informing businesses of the benefits women leaders bring — of which there are many. Look to politics. Persuasion alone is not enough. If you understand both, your chances of advancement are greater and so are the chances of changing your organization for the better.