BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Are You Ready to Be Next?

Posted by ywmguest on December 18, 2009

We love our network of working women. YWM encourages you to use our unique gifts for career advancement. Today’s guest blogger is Leanna Cruz.

You may have heard Warren Buffet say “if you wait until you see the Robin, spring will already be over.”

Two weeks ago several women were promoted as the Chairman of General Motors Co. Ed Whitacre looks to change the culture of the auto giant. A female auto analyst says that she was surprised by the number of women who were promoted – but hasn’t the fight for such action been going on since 1848? And didn’t the fight to give more women the opportunity to sit in leadership seats step up in 1964? Well, it’s about time. Now that the ball is rolling, will you be ready when the opportunity presents itself or will it pass you by?

Other than cronyism, women should consider the possibility that not enough of us have or actively exercise the soft skills which, when combined with professional skills, will get us the positions to which we aspire.

Promoting women is part of Whitacre’s strategy to hasten the speed to the best actions to put GM back on top. Among the reasons he attributes to the slow turnaround is a corporate culture where people were afraid to speak.

Political correctness as silence or inauthentic positive feedback may be the downfall of many companies. In order to avoid hurting someone’s ego or offending them by opposing their ideas, political correctness has become a norm (and so has troubled businesses). Critical feedback at all levels is avoided. But you can not possibly make the best decision or employ the best strategy if someone is withholding information. The new norm should be openness to critical feedback as an opportunity to improve and a willingness to give critical feedback to ensure success of the group.

GM has been referred to as a sleeping giant and resistant to cultural change. But change is the name of the game. Since the shake up in the economy, it is clear that there is no “business as usual.” Companies are looking for catalysts to create a culture of innovation and acceptance of rapid change at every level in order to maintain their competitive edge.

Are you ready to use your unique traits and share your unique perspective to reveal innovative solutions and be the catalyst your department or company needs and wants from a diverse workforce?

Rapid change calls for rapid response and it seems the GM board wanted to speed things up. Remaining in a phase of analyzing and planning, preparing to do something is not going to cut it. Where on the one hand some people are impulsive and make unnecessary mistakes, some are thinkers and analyze a situation to death and do not act.

When faced with change, caution is a common response- slowing down to feel in control. Paralysis sets in and problems multiply. During change companies need speed and responsiveness throughout every level. Companies are in need of thoughtful risk takers, preferably to respond to avert a crisis, to be proactive. But if you need to react to a crisis the confidence to act swiftly is paramount.

Especially during times of change, having the skills to get the job done is not all that is required of a leader. Companies are looking for change agents, with the ability to extrapolate innovative ideas with a sense of urgency. Ladies be prepared because many companies are flattening their organizational structure. The move from a pyramid structure to a flatter structure means there is a need for more leaders throughout, not just at the top.

GM has responded to its need for change by promoting several women and is one of a few companies setting the ball in motion down a steep hill so opportunities are on the way. Be prepared before the opportunity presents itself; it looks as though there are many on the horizon.

Leanna Cruz is editorial director for Positively Magazine a personal and professional development magazine. The Positively Successful issue has several articles and stories with ideas to tailor your career to maximize your elevation to the C-Suite.


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