Unplanned, timely post for International Women’s Day 2016. 

When it comes to human performance and talent, there are often a gap between what is perceived and reality.

mast-da3-ep5-jfellowes-cricketDuring my training in the philosophy and methods of skill development, Dr. Kevin Roessger shared the story of Mr. Molesley and the cricket match (pictured left; source) in Downton Abbey’s season 3, episode 8. Synopsis here. Molesley talked a big game, but when it came to his being seen in action on the field–he was much less than skilled. The way someone positions themselves publicly can be a smoke and mirrors mirage, similar to the Wizard of Oz type of projection and facade.

The rise of “big data” reveals that companies are no longer content with fuzzy, seeming knowns. Metrics and reporting are critical to mine the facts of things like return on investment (ROI), key performance indicators (KPIs) and the like. Decisions are no longer made off of perceptions, but actuals.

We’re talking here about the “ends”–what is actually being accomplished. But there’s also the “means” to consider–the path taken to reach the finished product.

Some years ago, I participated in a team-building, efficiency exercise where each of us tracked how each unit of 15-30 minutes of time was being spent for an entire week. (A few posts ago, I talked about time as units that can be strategically allocated.) The exercise was as time-consuming as it was valuable. It was fascinating to see how much time went down the drain with inefficient habits of multi-tasking, consistent checks of email, and other quirks of haphazard time management. Sometimes it’s not just if the job gets done, but how it gets done that can make all the difference.

Another piece of this is who is doing the actual work, and actually deserving of the credit.

Credit is a tricky thing. Having worked for much of my life with artists and creatives, whoever’s name is attached to a theory, art piece, idea, or product is key. Fact-check a famous quote from time to time, and you’ll find that famous sayings and quotes are often attributed to people who never came close to saying those words. Invisible credit is due faceless masses throughout our world (and throughout history) that never were given the credit for the work they have done. The devastating reality is that people other than them received credit and accolades for things they didn’t lift a finger on. 

IMG_0325I have had few female mentors in my life (most of them, interestingly enough, have been male), but one of them (pictured right) is the brilliant Diana Miller. She is chief of staff at my workplace, and is a consistent advocate for employee resources and benefits. We had a conversation today that touched on projected versus actual workflow.

Time and time again, upper management perceives that projects take less work and effort than they actually do. There is also invisible workflow distribution–where many individuals are slated with big workloads that go unseen. 

Women have consistently been invisible contributors to society and an invisible workforce, not just as home-makers, but in the marketplace. There have been calculations as to how much salary a “stay-at-home mother” deserves for her labor, totaling close to six figures (see here). Education and advocacy for pay equity (also known as equal pay, or the gender pay gap) is on the rise, as statistics are not pretty when it comes to income disparity.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 4.08.40 PMI recently watched a TED Talk (screenshot source), “New data on the rise of women,” from Hanna Rosen who also recently published a book on the same topic in 2012. Our workplace values have shifted–valuing brawn and demonstrative leadership styles less while valuing emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration more. Women have been socialized, in our American culture in particular, to have those now-valued skills. More and more, women are in demand, and are recognized for adding value to workplaces. 

Now, in our world, both men and women alike are learning a new way of leading that welcomes the yin and yang of the masculine and the feminine–being and doing, linear and circular reasoning, ego and soul.

DonnaModenaToday just so happens to be International Women’s Day. I took this photo (left) of a lovely billboard celebrating this special festa, while living in Napoli, Italy. It was there I first learned about “Il Giorno (or La Festa) della Donna” from my wonderful student and friend, Anna Piscitelli (her photo as the featured image of this post), and my hands were later filled with gifts of mimosa flowers from my students. A year later, I took this photo (right) of an ad placed in a shop window in Venezia, Italy. I was reminded of my own commitment to better the relationships, communities, and organizations in which I find myself.

In light of all this: how are we “committed to better” our communities and organizations with equity and credit in mind? 

How can we be agents of advocacy and attentiveness to giving credit where credit is due? Who can we publicly thank this week? Who can we privately acknowledge with appreciation and gratitude for their work?

How can we actively contribute to equal pay for all people? (Particularly for women and other underrepresented, skilled groups like people of color, people of lower socio-economic status and educational access)

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