What I learned from reading and talking about the book “How Women Rise” by Marshall Goldsmith &​ Sally Helgesen

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A year ago, during a trip to NYC with my MBA colleagues, I visited as many bookstores as the time allowed (one of my favorite activity).

The book “How women rise” was everywhere. As a fan of Marshall Goldsmith’s work in the coaching and leadership field, I got intrigued. I have read many books about leadership, but this one inspired many AHA moments.

The book is about the « 12 habits that hold women back from their Next Raise, Promotion, or Job ».

The authors recognize that women and men face different roadblocks. The skills and habits that may serve women early in their career can block them at a certain level. It’s about being aware of these habits and approaching behavioral change by substituting new habits for old ones.

The book is smart, well documented, & pragmatic. Helgesen and Goldsmith identify the 12 self limiting habits that they believe hold many women back in their career, use real/insightful examples, and offer a practical and measurable action plan.

Habit 1: Reluctance to claim your achievements

Habit 2: Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contribution

Habit 3: Overvaluing Expertise

Habit 4 : Building Rather than leveraging relationships

Habit 5 : Failing to enlist allies from Day One

Habit 6: Putting your job before your career

Habit 7: The Perfection Trap

Habit 8: The disease to please

Habit 9: Minimizing

Habit 10: Too Much

Habit 11:Ruminating

Habit 12 : Letting your radar distract you

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While reading and rereading the book, I discovered that I’m good at almost the twelve of them. Some examples:

I’m a Ruminator In Chief (habit 11): rewriting a story over and over while being hard on myself.

A perfectionist (habit 3): I shifted from Marketing to Human Resources a few years ago and naturally overvalued the HR expertise and undervalued many other strengths and skills from my previous experiences.

The disease to please (habit 8) is such a part of my culture. In Morroco, where I grew up and lived for 30 years, we have a word that is so embedded in the culture: « Hchouma », a kind of « shame on you ». Every time I wanted to say No to someone or something, I got the « Hchouma » feedback. Being a good person means not disappointing others, therefore pleasing them is socially vital.

Pleasing everyone is humanly impossible (unless you are a pizza :))

With a colleague who was reading the book, we decided to use it as a starting point to raise awareness about the subject, give space for women to gather and share their experiences to grow together and mentor each other.

To sum up, I learned a lot by reading the book, developing the material, and facilitating some sessions across different cultures and functions.

  • I used to believe that tailored leadership for women is diminishing, thinking that men and women are equal… after a few pages, I got hooked entirely… I found myself hoping I had access to a book like this earlier and thinking that every single woman should read it and pass it to the next generation.
  • Not all women will relate to the twelve habits. Each one has her own experience that shaped behavior and created habits. The more we speak about the 12 patterns and question ourselves, the more we increase awareness and trigger change.
  • The culture factor might impact behaviors. For example, for some women coming from more collective cultures (check out Hofstede work for more details about culture’s differences), personal branding is a muscle to develop.
  • This kind of work is critical to raise awareness, start the conversation, and plant growing seeds. However, in the corporate world, we need other actions to force the diversity mix. A lot has been said about the topic… 
  • Ted Jenkins, CEO of Intel, says there are four types of power: (i) Power of expertise, (ii) Power of connections, (iii) Power of personal authority or charisma and (iv) Power of position. Organizations are healthy when all four types of power are in balance. 

Hungry for more:

Check out => http://www.howwomenrise.com

Order the book => https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075CRJLLJ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Listen to podcasts => Sally, Marshall

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