We recently published the issue called “Coaching Mastery – Being With: Beyond coaching for performance, for all genders” written by Janet M. Harvey, MCC, CMS, ACS
The proverbial glass ceiling is constructed by everyone, by some overtly and by others unconsciously through habit. Both conditions and anything in between is well served through professional coaching.
Individually we experience or witness the impact of a ceiling, yet most people don’t know what to ask for as an alternative. As a result, the mastery required in a coach practitioner focuses on revealing bias, assumption, and preference. Gosh, that’s true all the time in coaching, so what’s different in the vulnerable territory of gender identity?
Professors Robin J. Ely and Irene Padavic studied the question of why women struggle to attain positions of power and authority in the workplace. The classic story is based on gender bias and is called the work/family narrative. Women biologically place family as a higher priority than work. For men, it is the opposite.
The research reveals a different narrative that provides a fresh opening for coaches who wish to support the removal of ceilings for any gender in the workplace. This underlying narrative punishes both men and women. For men, the primary identity as the ideal worker generates guilt for missing out on the family connection. For women the primary identity with family as all-important, results in accommodation – for example, working part-time for a while – and then resentment for professional ambitions being placed in a secondary position.
The emphasis on one gender versus another perpetuates stereotypes that sustain the ceiling.
As the professors’ analysis shows, the work/family narrative blocks breakthrough thinking, emotional sensitivity, and generative relating. Organizational cultures must attend to producing results, true. However, companies also want to create a climate for original thinking, creativity, and learning.
All genders require time to restore energy, time to daydream and imagine, and time for connection that strengthens collaboration.
Long hours and unrealistic timelines conflict with these important healthy climate factors and are masked underneath the work/family narrative that appears to create a premium on men as the ideal workers and reduces both inclusion and diversity that best matches the customer population.
Whether we are coaching men or women, exploring the underlying issue – the general culture of overwork – The emphasis on one gender versus another perpetuates stereotypes that sustain the ceiling yields far greater value. Leading self is challenging enough and people who chose then to also lead others to accept responsibility for an extraordinary level of clear-eyed perceiving. The paradox is that activity and effort ultimately produce diminishing returns.
Early symptoms are frayed emotions that show up as personal judgments in the form of anger, dismissiveness and/or disproportionate critique. Left unnoticed, these symptoms evolve into more destructive behaviors that further drives a wedge between managers and the team members who deliver business outcomes. Disrespect and incivility are rampant in engagement survey results for organizations that suffer under the culture of overwork.
To read the full article, click here.
Tell us what you think about this issue and this Coaching Mastery article.
How does it apply to you and the women in your life?
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