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SHAMBAUGH's Leadership Insights


Get the latest corporate leadership insights straight from CEO Rebecca Shambaugh.

What Buzz Are You Creating? Mastering Your Personal Brand

Picture yourself in a meeting with one other person you have never met before. You were each selected from different offices and departments to co-chair a committee at your company. After an hour of intense dialogue with this “new to you” colleague, you each return to your respective locations. Eager to share the experience of the meeting with you, your co-chair takes a moment to talk about you with two of your mutual colleagues. How do you think your new co-chair would describe you in three to five adjectives? Would the first thing that comes to your co-chair’s mind be your strategic thinking ability, your easy collaboration style, being knowledgeable about building high-performance teams, or…?

There is no right or wrong answer to this exercise, but ask yourself this: is the impression I am creating with my daily interactions the one I want to create? It’s important to think about this carefully since each day and with every interaction, you are either intentionally or inadvertently sowing the seeds for a trickle-down “buzz” about you that in essence becomes your personal brand. These conversations about you happen in all kinds of key forums that can influence your career success, from executive conversations and talent reviews to presentations, job interviews, speaking engagements, panels, emails, and social media. That’s a lot of potential influence, so you don’t want to leave it to chance.

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November 15, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Facing Fatigue About Gender Equality? Here’s What to Do

When it comes to balancing the scales for gender equality, Corporate America has a long way to go. Yet while achieving gender parity at the executive level remains a distant goal, many are growing weary of repeatedly hearing about the issue.

An article in the Wall Street Journal this month hammers home the point that there is a serious disconnect in how each gender views progress toward corporate equality at the senior levels. In short, the perception gap boils down to men feeling that the mission has been largely already accomplished, while women see a serious “work in progress.” Despite significant investment by many organizations in inclusion and gender equity, it’s akin to pushing a rock up a steep hill. There has been little progress, and in some respects, these efforts have unintentionally perpetuated gender segregation.

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October 18, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Together as Allies—How Men and Women Can Create a Better and Smarter World

This fall, I have been speaking at several major conferences and women’s leadership forums within organizations. While “women’s forums” have traditionally been designed as “women-only” events, I like to shake up this assumption a bit. I ask companies to have women attendees not just invite other women to attend, but also to bring along a male supporter of the initiative.

It’s time we start cracking the isolation factor that has often accompanied female leadership forums. This calls for men and women to start having this important conversation not only on gender-balanced leadership but also on how can can work together towards shared business goals, challenges, and opportunities. The only way to effect real change in this arena and better understand each gender’s unique but important differences is to reinforce a unified voice. And it is only when we begin to experience this journey as partners in a shared purpose, rather than as insiders and outsiders, that the alliance can truly be powerful. When it comes to advancing women’s leadership, men and women working together as allies should be a primary goal for our teams, our organizations, and our world.

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October 4, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Cracking the Code on Gender Equity

Why have so many companies failed to make much progress when it comes to achieving gender parity in their senior ranks? Perhaps even more important than looking back, what really needs to happen next to grow the pool of female talent at the executive ranks, so that we can finally achieve gender equity at the C-level and in our boardrooms?

I get asked these questions in almost every meeting I have with SHAMBAUGH’s clients when it comes to strategizing about how to improve gender equity in their company. While the solution isn’t simple, this quote from Albert Einstein can guide us in the right direction: “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

With this wisdom in mind, it’s time that we crack the ceiling of only around one-third of women—34 percent—in senior management roles, and in the tech industry in particular that reportedly has only 11 percent of women execs at Fortune 500 companies. (Some tech firms are pushing hard to do better than this—I just learned that SAP reached its goal to have one in four management positions at the company filled by women—yet we still have a long way to go.)

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September 13, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Balance Matters—Here’s One Way to Get There

It seems like practically every article that comes out about women’s leadership is about where women are not. Two recent New York Times articles are good examples of this—the one I mentioned in my last post about “Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s” was followed a week later with a piece on female execs finding “shaky ground” even after making it to the C-level.

Many of us are experiencing a growing fatigue around stories like this that continue to reemphasize the same points about women’s failure to conquer the C-level in numbers matching men. I think part of this feeling of disillusionment is coming from the reality that these articles aren’t telling the whole story—what’s missing is how to get where we need to go next. At SHAMBAUGH, we’re strong proponents that it’s time for a different, more disruptive conversation around new leadership models and changing mindsets.

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August 9, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Changing the Narrative on Women in Leadership

It’s often said that the dearth of women at the C-level is due to a pipeline problem. But according to a recent New York Times article, “Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were,” the pipeline isn’t the issue.

In the piece, author Susan Chira emphasizes how women who aspire to reach the senior ranks in corporations or institutions continue to experience resistance despite their clear capabilities and proven capacity to get results. After interviewing dozens of female CEOs, would-be chief execs, and other professionals, Chira finds that “many senior women in business are concluding that the barriers are more deeply rooted and persistent than they wanted to believe.” In other words, old narratives are at least partly to blame.

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July 26, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

What Inclusive Leaders Do

If you look around conference rooms, corporate boardrooms, and leadership teams, it’s clear that despite continued lip service to diversity, most businesses today still prefer the status quo when it comes to senior leadership roles. Much of this can be traced back to comfort level: SHAMBAUGH has found that people often feel safer when surrounded by those who are like-minded.

Some of the aversion to inclusion can also be found in a mentality of, “It doesn’t appear to be broken, so why fix it?” Some leaders may feel that if their profit lines are currently working, there’s no need to change what they’re doing at the leadership level. The problem with this assumption, though, is that frameworks quickly become outdated. The thinking styles that got you where you are today won’t get you where you’re trying to go in the future.

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July 12, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Demystifying Executive Presence

I’ve been on the road the last several weeks with the SHAMBAUGH team, working with our clients’ leadership and executive groups. A common theme has arisen in a number of my interactions regarding executive presence, which is a somewhat intangible attribute that can be subtle to define and awkward to discuss. No wonder it’s an area people want to learn more about! So let’s explore this together and learn what executive presence is, why it’s important, and how you can show up with it.

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June 20, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Women’s Events Spark Shared Solutions for Gender Equality

Last week saw the latest in action-oriented events in what I and many others globally have dubbed the Year of the Woman. Like last January’s Women’s March, the International Women’s Day and “A Day Without a Woman” events (both held on March 8) played a vital role in galvanizing women and giving them a collective voice to raise issues of gender balance and inclusion.

Hand in hand with these initiatives, though, we need both female and male leaders who are willing to strategically build on the momentum of these important efforts. At SHAMBAUGH, in light of the issues that these women’s events continue to raise, we’re putting extra emphasis on encouraging women to focus on being bold, rising up, and stepping into leadership.

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March 22, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

How to Get on a Corporate Board

As I travel to different parts of the country for speaking engagements and conferences, I’ve noticed a growing trend. An increasing number of women have been asking me about what steps they can take to land a board seat—particularly on a corporate board.

It’s a timely question, since the latest research on women and boards released in February showed only a very small increase in the percentage of board seats held by women. A new report from Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity found that in 2016, women and minorities occupied less than one-third (31 percent) of board seats in Fortune 500 companies. Meanwhile, the usual pattern continues of white men continuing to claim the vast majority (over two-thirds) of corporate board posts.

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March 1, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Facebook’s New Family Leave Policy Follows Theme of Makers Conference: Be Bold

I attended the Makers Conference last week in Rancho Palos Verdes and still have goose bumps from how inspiring it was. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s a forum that brings together hundreds of trailblazing women leaders with a goal of not only elevating the conversation about women in the workforce, but also raising challenges and solutions through storytelling and action-oriented sessions.

This year’s theme encouraged all attendees to Be Bold—and as I listened to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speak on “A New Workplace” session, it struck me just how true to that theme Facebook has been.

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February 15, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

How to Build on the Momentum of the Women’s March

In my last post, I challenged readers to make 2017 the Year of the Woman. Last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington—and hundreds of Sister Marches around the world—show that we’re starting off the year in exactly that direction.

The marches collectively brought millions of women together in solidarity and empowerment. The mission of the Women’s March is for women to “stand together with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families—recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

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January 25, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Make 2017 the Year of the Woman

Happy New Year to all. As we prepare to move beyond and build on the learnings of the previous year, one thing is clear: 2017 is poised to be a year of great change—and in many ways disruptive change—for our organizations, our communities, and our society.

In keeping with this observation, I have noticed a related trend. In my recent talks at conferences and executive forums, it has become clear that many more corporate leaders at all levels are paying increased attention to gender equality and approaching the topic with greater intentionality. This is a smart move for the 21st century, since we now have substantial data and physiological evidence that 50-50 leadership produces greater ROI, productivity, and employee engagement.

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January 11, 2017 | Leave a Comment (0)

Leveraging Different Thinking Styles to Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders

In my last post, I shared some of the latest thinking that suggests inclusion is the new diversity. In addition to those ideas on what today’s leaders and organizations can do to build a more inclusive culture and develop a truly diverse group of future leaders, consider these four strategies:

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December 14, 2016 | Leave a Comment (1)

Inclusion Is the New Diversity

Tony was on the Executive Leadership team. The senior leaders were charged with identifying a new board member from within their internal groups. Susan reported to Tony, and although her last performance review was lower than she had expected based on her boss’s assessment of her decisiveness and strategy setting, she was considered to have high potential in the organization based on her productivity and attention to detail.

While Tony briefly considered nominating Susan for the open board seat, he quickly ruled her out and moved on to other candidates. His reasoning was that Susan’s work style was more expressive and collaborative rather than the analytical, conceptual leadership style favored by the current board members.

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November 23, 2016 | Leave a Comment (0)