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SHAMBAUGH's Leadership Insights


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

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)

Think Less, Fail More: 5 Strategies to Boost Women’s Confidence

In my last post, I discussed how women can benefit from the “fake it until you make it” approach when it comes to improving their confidence levels. Men often use this strategy without thinking about it, erring on the side of overconfidence, while many women end up inadvertently holding themselves back from advancement opportunities by believing themselves to be less capable than they really are.

In SHAMBAUGH’s Women in Leadership Learning (WILL) Program, we share a number of strategies to help boost women’s confidence, which is important in developing a strong leadership and executive presence. Here are five steps that women can start taking today to let others know that they’re ready, willing, and able to take on the tough assignments that can lead to big opportunities...

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October 26, 2016 | Leave a Comment (0)

Women’s Confidence—How to Get It If You Don’t Have It

Fake it until you make it.” When I wrote my latest book Make Room for Her, that was a central piece of advice that men gave women when it came to the issue of confidence. When researching the book, I spoke with a male colleague of mine who is an Executive Vice President of global business development, who had this to say on the subject of women and confidence:

“The only way you grow is to lose some battles along your way to winning the war. When taking on new opportunities or working in unfamiliar areas where you have little or no experience, it’s important to be okay with knowing that you are going to stumble and fall. You will certainly make mistakes, but in the long run you will learn and grow, which will make you considerably more valuable to others.”

This EVP also told me that women need to keep “putting themselves out there” and “taking the risks involved with something that’s new to them,” adding that doing so starts with believing in themselves. “Women have to know that they can be successful without having all the answers and they have to be willing to fail in order to ultimately succeed,” he said.

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October 12, 2016 | Leave a Comment (0)

Inclusive Leaders Do These 4 Things—Do You?

If you want your organization to succeed today, then you must find ways to make inclusive leadership more than just a buzzword. But how can management teams ensure that all voices are on deck, particularly in light of challenges like this Catch-22 that an executive pointed out to me recently?

One way is to recognize that the traditional views on creating a diverse workforce based solely on creating more balance and fairness in demographic categories such as gender, age, and race are no longer sufficient—that threshold is too low. Successful inclusion now needs to go beyond the moral and legal imperative of simply integrating people with different demographics into the workplace.

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September 28, 2016 | Leave a Comment (0)