Sally Helgesen Introduces Pacesetters to Behaviors that Derail Women

Sally reviews the topic of inclusive organizations

Sally’s most recent book, How Women Rise, co-authored with Marshall Goldsmith, examines the behaviors most likely to get in the way of successful women. Gerri Bostick, Pacesetter Chair, introduced Sally as the gold standard among experts on women’s leadership.  She was the first to focus on what women have to contribute to organizations rather than how they need to change or adapt.

Sally gave context for her current work, explaining that the goal is to help women who are stuck to get unstuck.  The impetus to write the book was based on Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  Behaviors that worked in the past don’t work as we move higher in an organization and strengths can become derailers. Sally explained that most women have the desire to be perfect and often apologize for many things, exhibiting behaviors that are not useful. The 12 behaviors that she reviewed with the group are the results of over 30 years of working with women around the world. Some of the behaviors that most of the Pacesetters identified with included building rather than leveraging relationships, expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward their work, and seeking perfection. The group then rated the top 5 behaviors that resonated the most.  Sally asked the participants to break into smaller groups and discuss one of the 5 topics. The essence of the discussions was to engage others to help change a behavior that might be getting in the way, to receive feedback and begin to change one’s brand or identity.  Sally also emphasized the importance of learning to let go of judgments of oneself and others because these same behaviors got us to where we are. The real issue is knowing when it’s time to let go of things and embrace what’s most important.

(l-r) Rear: Aisha Elezi; Paola Montilla; Melissa Schoonveld; Gerri Bostick, Pacesetter Chair; Robin Milberg; Mari Richardson; Emily Estevez; Lisa Ellis, Panelist, (l-r) Front: Corrine Osborn; Svetlana Makhni; Jennifer Tenzer; Sally Helgesen, Presenter; Seyda Pirinccioglu; Christine Loomis, Pacesetter Vice Chair; Anne Hennessy, Panelist. Absent: Thalia Smith, Panelist

Sally then asked a panel of three experts to weigh in on the discussion, highlighting their own experiences with some of the behaviors.  The panelists were Anne Hennessy, PNC Wealth Management; Thalia Smith, Deloitte; and Lisa Ellis, Ross Stores. When asked what advice they would offer to women who are in mid-career, Anne’s response was “be your own advocate.”  Lisa’s advice was “be intentional and know that you have a choice.  Be aware of how you are showing up.”  Thalia told the group to build relationships that they can leverage, to “get new mentors, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

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