Corporate Enlightenment, Change Management & Diversity

The Book of the Week and Diversity in Your Board

Book of the Week: Step Up, Step Back by Elsbeth Johnson

“Step Up, Step Back” reminds us that the leaders’ job, the reason they are being paid the big bucks, is to focus on the: Why The Company Does What They Do, How The Members of the Company Behave and The Outcomes They Want. The “activities” to achieve these outcomes should be left to managers giving them the opportunity to execute and shine.

Leaders should stay in what Johnson calls “the green zone” of thinking, strategizing, and setting the tone for the organization. They should step up to help with clarity and alignment, and then they should step back to let others execute the strategy. The leaders, however, should continue to play a big role to ensure consistency and flow of resources, among others.

The reason why leaders should stay away from the blue zone is also very practical. Managers are closer to the clients and the market and therefore they have a better intuition for making the right decisions. Leaders should help and guide managers, empower them to make those decisions, and remove roadblocks.

The reason why it is so hard for leaders to delegate the “blue stuff” (execution, technical expertise) to managers, is because that was what made them successful. For many “being productive” means daily execution. What they fail to understand is that “the green stuff” (the soft skills, the deep introspection) requires a different type of work. Lots of internal work, reflection, and pause. It requires deep thinking and reprogramming the mind. And that’s hard. It is akin to achieving “corporate enlightenment”

Step Up and Step Back is a difficult exercise but it is the reason some leaders are great and get results and others don’t. Great job Elsbeth Johnson

Note of caution: This does not apply to an early-stage startup environment, but it definitively sets the tone for thinking about the future

The Board list has curated a list for you to Meet 25 Amazing Women of Color For Your Board!

The Boardlist’s mission is to connect exceptional, diverse talent with global board opportunities with the goal of improving board performance. They have built a community of 14,000 men and women who also believe in the power of diversity, and have served 1,700 companies that have searched theBoardlist for their next director. 

But, the reality is that while significant progress has been made towards improving gender diversity in the boardroom in the last couple of years, it has not benefited all women equally. Women of color still remain dramatically underrepresented in the boardroom, in the executive suite, and in all leadership positions.

The breakdown of all of the Fortune 500 board seats currently hovers around:  66% Caucasian/white men, 18% Caucasian/white women, 9% African American, 4% Asian/ Pacific Islander, and 4% by Hispanic/Latinx (2018). 

Why? The majority of board seats are filled through networks. And, since boards are overwhelmingly homogeneous, it’s perhaps not surprising that, when pulling from familiar talent, boards remain non-diverse. However, with just a bit of intentional effort to reach beyond these networks, there is an incredible pipeline of exceptional talent across industries and areas of expertise. 

Join me at ACT-W where I will talk about a career in AI:

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Date: August 26-28