A November 2013 Ted Talk given by Susan Colantuono titled, “Susan Colantuono: The career advice you probably didn’t get”, was aimed at women who were not breaking through to senior executive positions at companies and that were 'stuck’ in management level positions.
Susan Colantuono starts off her talk by describing the three elements of leadership, which include personal greatness, engaging in the greatness in others, and business, strategic, and financial acumen. She states that the third last element is one of the primary reasons why women are passed over twice as more than men in advancement opportunities. This third element revolves around understanding and focusing on the organization that one works for, knowing where the organization is going, and understanding what role one has in helping the organization reach a goal. Colantuono discusses how women focus more on networking (engaging in the greatness of others) and increasing one’s self-confidence (personal greatness) rather than putting effort into all three because that is what has been tailored and taught to them their entire professional lives. According to Colantuono, if women were to also focus on the third element, then they are more likely to break out of their management positions to more executive level positions.
Towards the end of her talk, Colantuono shares her conversation with a male mentor who had a female and male mentee. He stated how he was focusing his advice for his female mentee towards building her self-confidence and networks, while he gave more technical business advice to the male mentee. The surprising aspect of this is that the mentor did not realize the difference until he was asked to reflect on it.
This example of the mentor not recognizing the difference in treatment conveys how the problem of the lack of women in executive positions is a very complicated dilemma, which embodies gender norms and stereotypes. Colantuono suggests that executives of organizations have to make sure that their strategic alignment of having equal proportion of women in executive positions is actually implemented, and if it is not then actually do something about that. In addition, she suggests that human resources acknowledge this gender gap in the workforce and hire and appoint positions accordingly.
This TED Talk was very insightful and interesting to listen to, but there are some drawbacks to it. Colantuono fails to address how organizations can actually realize the gender gap in their executive level positions, because just like the mentor she talked about before, people might not recognize this difference and will not think of it as a problem until after the fact. This shows how the problem is more deeply rooted than just changing the hiring rates between males and females. This talk though does shed a light on the problem of women not being represented in leadership positions in various organizations across the workforce, and what women can possibly do (increase their business, strategic, and financial acumen) to help break out of management level positions and step into executive level and leadership positions.
View the Ted Talk Here:
Post by Bhumi B. Bhakta, a first-year Masters of Public Health student in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.
Source of Ted Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_colantuono_the_career_advice_you_probably_didn_t_get
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