Browsing the archives for the leadership barriers tag.

Knocking down leadership barriers

Barriers to Leadership, Career Challenges

How do you break a leadership barrier?  As a single person, how do you change biased processes and attitudes?

If you’re looking for a simple answer, you won’t find it here.

Some leadership barriers take generations and social and political movements to overcome or at least mitigate.  Consider the work of the civil rights movement.  The civil rights movement put legal protections in place for minority workers.  It was a huge step forward in changing hiring and promotion processes.  However, it was only a first step – many of the biases still exist.  Over the past few decades, we’ve seen improvements in equality but it is a long journey.

So if you don’t want to wait for decades, what can you do?  Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Be aware of the leadership barriers facing you
  2. Evaluate your situation
  3. Determine whether or not you can overcome the leadership barriers in your company
  4. Don’t dwell on protesting the injustice.  If you want to build your career, the workplace is not the right place to dramatically challenge the system.
  5. Become more than the stereotype(s)
  6. Focus on your own career
  7. Use organizational savvy to build relationships
  8. Stand up for yourself in a respectful manner
  9. Seek leadership opportunities
  10. Do a great job.  Outstanding work overcomes many barriers and gets you noticed in a positive way.

Four steps of the Self-Driven Leadership Development process

  1. Own your future
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Learn critical leadership skills
  4. Apply your skills to your work

Leadership Barriers model:

 

leadership barriers model

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Why do leadership barriers matter?

Barriers to Leadership, Career Challenges

In the last post, I defined the term “leadership barriers” which are an important part of the Self-driven Leadership Development process.

 Leadership barriers are important to individuals who want to progress to leadership roles, and they are also important to organizations that want to stay competitive and adaptable.

 The first reason is easy to see.  People do not want biases and negative attitudes to stand in the way of their career advancement.  These barriers are about groups the person belongs to and not about the person.  It is a combination of intentional and unintentional stereotyping.  Women and minorities and geeks and others get labeled as having certain characteristics.  That labeling can keep them from career advancement.  Some people belong to multiple groups – like a woman with technical geek tendencies – that have negative biases and get a double or triple whammy.

 The second reason is more indirect.  Organizations should be concerned about leadership barriers that exist in their talent development processes.  There is a lot of research that shows that diversity – of groups and of thought – is critical to business success and flexibility.  If an organization is systematically denying groups access to leadership roles, the organization will suffer.  It also strengthens the employment brand for a company to support diversity.

Four steps of the Self-Driven Leadership Development process

  1. Own your future
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Learn critical leadership skills
  4. Apply your skills to your work

Leadership Barriers model:

 

leadership barriers model

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What is a leadership barrier?

Barriers to Leadership, Career Challenges, Leadership Development, Self-driven Leadership Development

The second step in my Self-Driven Leadership Development model is about breaking down barriers.  What does that mean?

 Definition:  A barrier to leadership is a systemic process or attitude that commonly prevents a group of people from moving into leadership roles and being successful in the workplace.

 The “systemic” part of the definition means that barriers are broad-based and apply to most if not all people of a certain group.  It is a shared experience, instead of being a unique situation applied to one person.

Leadership barriers can be process based.  This refers to specific policies and procedures in an organization that might work against some people who aspire to leadership roles or to other types of career advancement .  With advances in civil rights and equal workplaces, these are less common.

More commonly, leadership barriers are about attitudes that keep certain groups out of leadership roles.  Attitudes can refer to overt discrimination, unintentional discrimination, social norms, perceptions and more.  These are often ingrained psychological beliefs and biases that many people are not aware of.  Their subtlety is what makes them so dangerous.

Different barriers exist for different groups.  We’ll consider barriers for geeks and women and minorities and the disabled and even career changers.  In addition to these group-specific barriers, there are some common leadership barriers such as stereotypes about successful leaders and person-organization fit.

 As an example, a well-known barrier to leadership for women is “the glass ceiling”.  That phrase even creates an image of a physical barrier.  The glass ceiling is a statement about the fact that a barrier exists.  It does not actually define the meaning or cause of the barrier.   The concept of the glass ceiling is related to attitudes such as role stereotypes, the “good ole boy” network and “good girl” socialization.

In this model, leadership barriers do not cover personal weaknesses such as poor skills and behaviors.  Those are covered during step 3 of the Self-driven Leadership Development process that deals with individual competencies needed to be a successful leader.

Four steps of the Self-Driven Leadership Development process

  1. Own your future
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Learn critical leadership skills
  4. Apply your skills to your work

Leadership Barriers model:

 

leadership barriers model

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4 critical steps to becoming a leader

Barriers to Leadership, Leadership Development, Self-driven Leadership Development

As I venture into new territory for this blog, I’m going to use a framework for self-driven leadership development.  Chalk it up to my PhD, but I like to have a conceptual model for the work that I do.  Once the model makes sense, I can layer on the practical information and suggested activities.

This model is intended to help someone (like you) move yourself up the career ladder towards or into a leadership role.  It starts with the need to be responsible for your own career then focuses on breaking down your personal career barriers then involves learning how to be a leader and finally involves applying your skills.

The four steps are:

  1. Own your future
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Learn critical leadership skills
  4. Apply your skills to your work

This picture shows the elements of the model. 

 barrier model

Over the next few posts, we’ll go into more detail about each step and elements of this model.  You’ll learn about the need to own your career future due to a change in the psychological contract at work.  You’ll get some concrete activities for how to drive your career.

We’ll also define what a barrier to leadership looks like – including the psychological under-pinnings.  More importantly, I’ll give you some practical suggestions for tearing down those barriers, so you can accomplish your personal career goals. 

I’ll introduce a leadership competency model that explores important skills for any corporate leader.  This competency model will guide future suggestions on developmental activities for you to try. 

Through out these discussions will focus on dual outcomes.  One outcome is to advance your career and get you to a desired leadership role.  Your personal future is important.  But being a leader also means impacting other people and your organization.  The second outcome is to have a positive impact on your organization.

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Ka-Boom! Blowing up this blog!

Overview, Random

Ok, Ok, maybe “blowing up” is a bit melodramatic, but at least I got your attention.  I am not exactly blowing up this blog, but I am going to reposition it a bit.  I mentioned awhile back that I was working on updating the Geek 5

I started with some simple changes in mind.  I ended up in a very different place.

So here are some changes that are coming to Geeks Gone Pro:

  • Re-framing the blog to be about self-driven leadership development.  This means giving advice to professionals who want to move their own careers into leadership roles.
  • Broadening the audience – Don’t worry, geeks – the blog will still apply to you!  The Geek 5 focused on barriers for geeks to become leaders.  Going forward, I’ll include some other groups such as women and minorities and some of the barriers they face to becoming leaders.  Some barriers are shared among groups and others are more unique.  This blog will now provide career and leadership advice for all professionals.
  • New competency model – We’ll also talk about the leadership skills/ competencies that any leader needs once he or she breaks through the barriers and reaches a leadership position.  The new model I’ll introduce has several elements from the Geek 5, but has some new concepts as well.  This model is intended to apply to any leader, regardless of what barriers they faced.

What’s not changing is the domain name and url.  For now I’m sticking with geeksgonepro.com.  As these new concepts gel, I’m hoping to come up with a new snazzy title and related domain name.  At that point I’ll move the site.

Over the next few weeks, the blog content will proceed more linearly.  I’ll introduce a few new frameworks and approaches for thinking about your leadership journey.  After that, we’ll get back to developmental suggestions related to the leadership competency model.

Ka-Boom!  Here we go!

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