Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Improving Your Bottom Line

GENDER INTELLIGENCE

Why the Glass Ceiling Still Exists
The glass ceiling is still very much intact, write diversity consultants Barbara Annis and Keith Merron in their book Gender Intelligence, not because companies are unwilling to change but because companies are approaching the problem with the wrong mindset. The most well-meaning diversity managers and their executive bosses are failing in their efforts to empower women and develop more women leaders, because they are trying to build equality in numbers and sameness in behavior. In other words, in the male-dominated workplace, Annis and Merron write, women are taught that success depends on women acting more like men. What men do makes no difference, and they don’t have to change anything; it’s women who have to change.

Other leaders insist that they don’t discriminate against women. In their companies, these leaders explain, they have “gender-blind meritocracies.” The problem is that in many organizations, the supposedly objective criteria used to judge performance is based on male tendencies. For example, high-tech firms value people who communicate in a very rapid style, who are incredibly analytical, and who will tear down any idea or anyone that demonstrates a flaw in their thinking; these are typically male traits, and not surprisingly, women avoid the resulting aggressive, conflict-ridden environment created by such traits.

Men and Women are Different

The fact is that men and women are different and will always be different, the authors emphasize. In an early chapter of the book, the authors lay out the neuroscience that reveals how the brains of men and women are structured differently — for example, women have a greater prefrontal cortex, which enhances consequential thinking and moderates social behavior, thus leading them to look for win-win solutions to conflict, while men are going to take a more competitive approach.

Thus, asking women to act like men is asking women to be inauthentic. Inauthentic behavior is not only bound to fail, but it is also unnecessary. As the authors argue, the path to what the authors call “gender intelligent” companies is based on the understanding that the different styles of women, such as their less linear, more creative and web-like approach to problem solving, are of equal value to business as the ultra-linear, blinders-on, focused approach of men. The challenge is to bring the two styles together in a productive way. As the authors explain, “Teaching women to think, act, problem-solve and lead like men devalues and discourages women while limiting the vast potential of the masculine and feminine blend in leadership that is crucial for success in tomorrow’s workplace.”

In the second half of the book, the authors focus on achieving this productive blend. They lay out, for example, the three fundamental shifts for becoming a gender- intelligent leader: 1) going from a sameness mindset to embracing the value in gender differences; 2) creating meritocracies based on different models for success; and 3) recognizing when their behaviors are not congruent with their intentions — too many leaders have gender blind spots that undermine their well-meaning efforts.

The authors also explore how functions, processes and systems work in gender-intelligent organizations. For example, Deloitte, which once depended on nearly all male consultants advising all-male clients, now recognizes that women partners who listen, are understanding and encourage dialogue can be effective and in some instances even more effective consultants than their male colleagues.

The greatest contribution of this essential book, however, is in shining a light on the fact that the glass ceiling exists not because men want it there but because both men and women working to shatter the ceiling are building their efforts on the wrong assumptions.

*Barbara Annis is also the author, along with John Gray, of Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business.

Business with a Purpose

Here at Soundview, we’re always looking for the latest trends in business. These trends are highlighted by the hot topics of the business books that are being published. Recently, there seems to be many books coming across our desk on Purpose.

One such title is The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst, which we are summarizing this month and hosting a webinar with in September. Like the Information Economy, which has driven innovation and economic growth until now, Hurst argues that our new economic era is driven by connecting people to their purpose. It’s an economy where value lies in establishing purpose for employees and customers through serving needs greater than their own, enabling personal growth and building community.

Part of the Do Books series, Do/Purpose is written by David Hieatt. In Do/Purpose, Hieatt offers insights on how to build one of these purpose-driven companies. You know, those rare brands we all fall in love with. The crazy ones that don’t just make something, but change something as well.

Another purpose-focused book is Black Hole Focus by Isaiah Hankel. As Hankel puts it, “Don’t get stuck on a career path you have no passion for. Don’t waste your intelligence on something that doesn’t really mean anything more to you than a paycheck. Let (me) help you define a focus so powerful that everything in your life will be pulled towards it. Create your purpose and change your life. Be focused. Be fulfilled. Be successful.”

When we talk about corporate culture, there is also A Culture of Purpose by Christoph Lueneburger. Building a culture of purpose is one of the greatest challenges facing modern leaders, as today’s best minds are looking for meaning, not just jobs. More than any other single factor, cultures of purpose power winning organizations, attracting the smartest, most creative, most passionate talent.

There are more, but I’ll stop with these four. Why the interest in purpose? I think there are several factors that have brought this theme to the forefront.

One key factor is generational. The younger generations in the marketplace are looking for more than the Traditional and Baby Boomer generations when it comes to purpose. It’s no longer about making money to retire and enjoy life. It’s now about enjoying life along the way, and believing that what you do matters.

Another factor is the ever faster pace of life. As work spills over more and more into life, people want to know that what they’re doing has a purpose that is worth the sacrifice.

And perhaps a third factor might be a greater interest on the part of younger generations in the environment around them. They want to know that the company they work for is focused on the health and safety of people, and on the preservation of the environment. Again, this is purpose-driven living.

Perhaps you see additional factors at work that are causing this focus on purpose. We’d love to hear what you think. Post your own thoughts in the comments section of this blog for others to consider.

The Six Megatrends You Should Know About

What is a megatrend? In their book Leadership 2030, Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell explain that a megatrend has three dimensions: Time – it’s observable and can be predicted with high probability at least 15 years into the future, Reach – it affects all regions and stakeholders, and Impact – it fundamentally transforms policies, society and the economy.

Through their research with Z-Punkt and the Hay Group, Vilemetter and Sell have uncovered six megatrends that we need to be aware of in the near future:

Globalization 2.0: Asia dominates the global economy
Climate change: Sustainability becomes imperative
Individualism: Freedom of choice erodes loyalty
Digitization: Boundaries blur between private and working lives
Demographic changes: Aging populations intensify the talent war
Converging technologies: The sharpest tech shift in history is around the corner

If you would like to hear more about these megatrends and how they will impact your business, please join Vielmetter and Sell at our Soundview Live webinar on August 7th entitled The 6 Megatrends You Need to Know About. You’ll learn how these megatrends will affect your sector of business, and what you can do to prepare for and take advantage of these trends.

What is a Responsible Entrepreneur?

“Responsible entrepreneurs are a special breed, seeking to transform industries and even society itself. They challenge and refine cultural assumptions, laws, regulations, and even the processes of governance. This requires them to do and think far beyond what is usually required of business leaders.” Carol Sanford

In Responsible Entrepreneur, Carol Sanford, one of the most trusted names in responsible business development, offers a blueprint for this new kind of business leadership, describing the means by which any entrepreneur can pursue a higher order of work.

Sanford maps this journey through four archetypes:

•The Realizing Entrepreneur:  Industry Game-Changer (Steve Jobs, Sarah Slaughter)

•The Reconnection Entrepreneur: Society Game-Changer (Richard Branson, Cheryl Contee & Kipp Baratoff)

•The Reciprocity Entrepreneur: Culture Game-Changer (Oprah Winfrey, Michiel Bakker & Annalie Killian)

•The Regenerative Entrepreneur: Governance Game-Changer (Larry Page, Jay Coen Gilbert & Shainoor Khoja)

We have invited Carol to our upcoming Soundview Live webinar, The Responsible Entrepreneur, to give you a better understanding of which archetype most aligns with your goals, so that you can learn how to grow your business into a powerful platform that can leverage change, and even change the foundations that create our most pressing problems and issues.

For entrepreneurs seeking to pursue world-changing results, or impact investors looking to align their capital with their values, The Responsible Entrepreneur provides the frameworks to build a business and to evaluate and direct investments to create the greatest benefit for all stakeholders. For anyone who wants to make a difference in the way businesses affect the world, The Responsible Entrepreneur lays out ways to make that aspiration focused and doable.

Join us on July 24th for our webinar with Carol Sanford, and bring your questions to post during the live event.

How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things

GAMIFY

Motivation for Gamification

Gamification describes the use of game mechanics and experience design – a story line, for instance – to digitally engage employees and customers, writes Gartner consultant Brian Burke in his gamification primer, Gamify.

As with many new technological trends in the workplace, gamification is often misunderstood or overhyped, Burke writes. Gamification does not mean turning work processes into a video game (giving a sales manager a virtual gun and turning individual salespeople into virtual targets does not motivate salespeople to be more competitive). Nor will a game turn a dreary job into a fun-filled, joyful exercise. What gamification can accomplish, he writes, is to motivate people to change their behaviors or to develop their skills, and can also drive innovation.

Three Elements of Motivation

Gamification works because it addresses the three elements of motivation:

Autonomy. Gamification allows people to opt in, then make their own choices as they proceed through the game.

Mastery. Everyone has a deep-seated desire to improve and make progress. Perhaps full mastery is not possible in gamification as in real life, but gamification provides the constant positive feedback that motivates people to keep trying harder.

Purpose. Gamification is different from traditional games because there is an overriding purpose. Unlike a game, which is simply created to entertain, gamification “engages players at an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them,” Burke writes.

For example, Burke describes how a hospital for children developed a game app to encourage sick children to keep up their pain journals. These journals are important for doctors to know which treatments are working, but children, especially those having a bad day, are not always motivated to fill out the journal. With the iPhone “Pain Squad” app, children become members of a police force who progress through the ranks depending on how many days in a row they fill in their journals.

Three Audiences

Gamified solutions are usually targeted at one of three audiences: employees, customers and communities of interest (for example, ecologically-minded people who through Internet-based gamification are encouraged to recycle).

The Pain Squad example above illustrated how gamification was able to engage customers – in this case, the sick children – to change their behaviors. Barclaycards uses gamification to engage customers in driving innovation for their Barclaycard Ring credit card. This low-rate credit card is unique because it operates as a separate profit center, and “profits generated by the community are shared with the community,” Burke writes. Through status tiers (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and palladium) and badges, Barclayscard Ring members are pushed to participate in developing the community by suggesting or voting on ideas that would improve the product, or taking such actions as recruiting new members.

NTT Data uses its Ignite Leadership game to identify and develop leadership skills among their employees, many of whom are dispersed to various client sites, some of them for years and even decades. Under such circumstances, they lose their connection with the company. Ignite Leadership creates real-world-scenario questions and allows the player to choose among a multitude of options; there is no right answer. The training is structured as a journey, with points and badges awarded at different levels and a leaderboard that shows player rankings.

These are just three of Burke’s many examples as he illustrates the wide variety of situations in which gamification can be used. In the second half of the book, Burke offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gamification, starting with defining the business outcomes, target audiences, and player goals and moving on to such issues as the player engagement model (for example, is the game collaborative or competitive, emergent with an unknown outcome or scripted?).

In Gamify, Burke reveals the full complexity and potential of gamification but presents his material in a succinct, clearly organized manual that will motivate leaders to follow the example of the successful companies featured in the book.