Sheryl Sandberg suggests that women switch our gaze from external “glass ceilings” to internal “sticky floors.” What can be accomplished when the ascent up the ladder is with full confidence that the top is where we belong? I was recently preparing my remarks as the keynote for a professional women’s mentoring program and an analogy struck me that made me laugh out loud. “Don’t ask for permission or knock politely at the men’s room door. Go on in.” Oh my! Years of a behavior that has been a source of embarrassment to my friends and that mortifies my kids is an exact analogy for my professional outlook. When there is a line for the women’s room and appropriate privacy in the men’s room I do not discriminate. I enter the men’s room. Why be restricted and slowed down by social convention?
Often coaching involves leading a client to act on something that they already know. In principle executives know that mentoring their team is a good thing. One of the most far reaching attributes of “leadership” is the ability to develop leaders. This is supported by stats from a Stanford University/The Miles Group survey released this month, which asked 200 CEOs, board directors, and other senior executives questions about how they receive and view leadership advice. The top two areas board directors say their CEOs need to work on are “mentoring skills/developing internal talent” and “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”