2015 Resolution? Gain Confidence in Your Voice

January 07, 20152 minute read

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal has added interesting insights on the topic of how women’s tendencies and behaviors often add to their leadership challenges. In her research, author Joanne Lippman, former deputy managing editor of WSJ and a former editor in chief of Condé Nast Portfolio, found women often make a point in a meeting by asking a question or by beginning with a qualifier such as “I’m not sure but…” or “I’m sorry to interrupt, but…”

The essay actually was written as a “Guide for Men” with the author setting out to “demystify women.” Her view is that women’s leadership potential will continue to be underutilized unless men get on board with making some changes. She identifies several male executives who are taking an active role in changing the culture at their companies, including Mike Kaufmann, CFO of Cardinal Health, who is quoted as saying, “If you want to change the numbers, you have to get men involved,”

This perspective aligns with AWESOME’s efforts to foster dialogue between male and female supply chain leaders. A signature feature of the annual AWESOME Symposium is a panel of “Enlightened Men.”

Also, collective wisdom from the 2014 AWESOME Symposium – Reality Check – Volume Three: What We Can Do – contains highlights of a discussion by women leaders on “Driving and Managing Your Own Advancement. “ It includes wisdom about taking a seat at the table, being ready to contribute, and “finding your voice.”

A 2014 article by that title — “Find Your Voice” — in the Harvard Business Review, said “Women often have a hard time making their otherwise strong voices heard in meetings.” Authors Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, and Mary Davis describe the types of interactions that have negative impacts on a woman’s effectiveness and recommend ways a woman, her male peers, and her company can improve those interactions.

The way women express themselves is only one of the factors the WSJ article suggests leads to misinterpretation of a woman’s leadership capabilities. Other situations to be aware of include:
• Women not recognizing they’re ready for a promotion – or not asking for it
• Women not starting with the same level of respect men do
• Women not negotiating salary – or realizing their true worth
• Men complimenting women in a way that reinforces stereotypes
• Men not knowing how to give women honest feedback
• Assumptions being made about a woman’s priorities