Don’t Be a Wage Slave

A Monk Speaks to Corporate America

Why Superwoman Needs a Make-over

The Power of a Good Story

Lessons from Leaders Under Fire

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared for the May 12, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

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Don’t Be a Wage Slave

‘Any man who works for wages is a fool," stated Joe Kennedy, bootlegger, ambassador, and wildly successful entrepreneur. Recruiting consultant Ann Rosenblum counters this self-employment-only fiat with a broader view: "There are thousands of careers out there that have not been invented yet." Whether you receive salary from a company or cash from your own enterprises, Rosenblum insists that a little thought can keep you from being a wage slave.

Exactly how to "Find the Right Job for You and Not Just a Paycheck" is the subject of Rosenblum’s upcoming talk at Saint Gregory’s Career Network, on Wednesday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge and further information is available at 609-588-5623. This seminar is designed for people – whether currently employed or not – willing to take a few risks in search of that optimum career.

Rosenblum grew up in Baltimore and graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in communications. Her first salaried position was as public relations writer for various fundraisers. From there Rosenblum went on to write copy for Wall Street firms, but she hated the work, and quickly went back to public relations. "It was the early ’80s – right in the middle of the Ivan Boesky era – and a mind boggling time to be on Wall Street," she recalls. Moving with the times, Rosenblum shifted through vocations, taking turns as a stockbroker, investment counselor, and salesperson.

Finally, in l991, Rosenblum turned to job recruiting. "It is indeed sales," she says. "You are either selling a candidate to a company or you are selling the company to the candidate, depending on the market." Currently Rosenblum holds a full-time position as recruiting consultant for Bristol-Myers Squibb, while at the same time running her own Berkeley Heights-based training company, Purpose in Being (www.purposeinbeing.com). She founded her company exactly five days before 9/11. "With the rest of our nation, I was set back hard," she says, "but I felt that if people ever needed to re-examine their life’s purpose and connect it with their careers, now was the time."

Rosenblum is fond of quoting Aristotle’s definition of vocation as "that place where your skills and the needs of the market place come together." Surely this is a more desired definition than some daily chore you have stumbled into and can endure until retirement. But carving out your vocation – making your passion relevant to today’s unmet needs – takes a planned campaign.

Discover your passion. Long before you start scanning the classifieds and before you search out what slots are hot, Rosenblum encourages everyone (employed or not) to sit down and write out the activities about which they are passionate. Most – but not all – of these will be things at which you are successful. Don’t confuse ability with passion. It may occur to you that after years of business travel experience that you could make a bundle running tours to certain major cities. But would you really enjoy the responsibility and repetitiveness of leading people through sites wearily familiar to you?

Assess your skills. There are any number of recently downsized computer programmers, and many are opting to start their own computer consulting firms. If the keyboard is truly your passion, then this can be a wise move – if you can deal with the competitive pressures. Statistically, most downsized people seek immediately to remount the same old job horse. The problem, notes Rosenblum, is that people don’t see their skills as transferable.

Supposing you have always dreamed of being a travel writer, yet you feel your past 10 years as a heavy equipment salesman have left you ill-equipped. Before you shrug wistfully and tuck your dream away, consider your acquired abilities. As a salesman you have probably developed great interviewing skills. You know how to enter strange situations and put yourself in the other person’s place and make sense of things. Odds are, your sales business has taken you to enough new locales that you know what the average traveler is seeking. You are certainly capable of trying to sell your articles after they are written. And all those years of chatting up customers have most likely given you better linguistic skills than you realize.

Sculpting your niche. Note that up to now Rosenblum has kept urged that you look at your passions. It is vital that you, not job market trends, determine the career in which will spend the majority of your waking hours. Yet once you have selected your field, it is time to explore all of its aspects. "As you go out on primary interviews and learn about possible careers, you will doubtless run into some reality checks," warns Rosenblum. Perhaps this new career would demand too many additional years of education or too much travel. Or maybe it would demand skills you just don’t have.

Talk with veterans in field you want to enter, says Rosenblum. Learn about all the varieties of jobs it encompasses – and what each requires in terms of education, personality, skills, and time.

Lifestyle shift? Do you really need all the money that your pinnacle salary provided before downsizing? A 4,000 square-foot home is certainly an image booster, and the gift-wrapping room often comes in handy, but if you were passionately involved in a career, just how much would you and your family require? Figure out a ballpark estimate.

You’ve got to be honest here. It may be that you truly would not be happy living anything less than the best-Beluga high life. You may find that any job that keeps you in the most expensive glad rags is worth the grind. So be it. On the other hand, life is too short to labor for a mortgage payment when cheaper digs would allow you to enjoy a career more suited to your skills and passions.

Avoid application blunders. Backed by years in human resources, Rosenblum points out the three major types of job candidates who will never make the short list. First, and easiest to spot, is the serial job bidder. This energetic soul has sent out 300 non-specific resumes, and has rehearsed the application speech he spews forth, unchanged, regardless of the position. The recruiter is not special to this applicant, nor will the applicant be special to the recruiter.

The opposite of the bored serial-bidder is the desperate candidate. He conveys, with grave earnestness, that he will do anything to get and hold this job. Translation: he wants a salary, now, and cares little about your product or your company as long as it meets its payroll.

Last, but arguably most important, is the uninformed applicant. He knows everything about the area of work, but has done no homework on the specific company or its needs. He has not studied the names of the officers or their histories. He does not know anything about the firm’s financials or its products. He is unprepared for this interview; what are the odds he will be prepared at work?

The concept of professionalism has gripped our nation’s workplace in an increasingly negative way. More and more the professional has come to be defined as an individual who performs only one job and is fit only for that job. Meanwhile, half our workforce has been told to retrain, then re-retrain for job security. Yet now even the much touted high tech careers hold no cradle-to-grave promise. It is obvious that we as individuals are going to have to redefine how – and at what – we work. So if we must change, why not shift toward a career that is more exciting?

– Bart Jackson

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A Monk Speaks to Corporate America

Kenny Moore, KeySpan executive and former monk, speaks on "The CEO, the Monk, and You: An Intriguing Trinity on Wednesday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. at a meeting of the American Society for Training and Development at the Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge. Cost: $40. Call 609-419-5802. He is the co-author of The CEO and the Monk: One Company’s Journey to Profit and Purpose. The following excerpt sets the stage for Moore’s unlikely journey to the upper echelons of corporate life:

In 1982, after spending 15 years in a monastic community as a Catholic priest, I decided it was time to leave. Like many others who made promises they ultimately could keep I came to personally understand the counsel of Tennessee Williams: "There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go."

I returned to live with my widowed mother in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City. In leaving the religious life what I had hoped for were privacy, time for reflection, and more independence. What I got were cramped quarters, a protective mother, and more poverty than I experienced as a monk. My desire was to be on my own. But I still had not attained the freedom I sought. Eventually a divine insight was presented: What I truly needed was a job and some money This proved to be no easy task for one whose sole credentials were an advanced degree in theology, a deep spiritual life, and a propensity for burning incense.

My job search eventually brought me to Brooklyn Union Gas and a rising executive named Bob Catell. I accepted a position in the human resources department and prepared to enter corporate America and leave my religious traditions behind. Or so I thought. Much to my surprise, the skills of the monastery had a place in the business world. Employee surveys increasingly confront executives with three major issues: nobody trusts their supervisors; employ don’t believe in senior management; and workers are too stressed out to care. Problems with trust, belief, and caring. In my monastic days we referred to this self-same quandary as a crisis of faith, hope, and charity.

I began to discover that the problems confronting business leaders were not only fiscal, they were also spiritual. And, as Divine Providence would have it, all this took on practical meaning when I came face-to-face with Bob Catell. He was a hard-nosed corporate executive with a soul; a person equally at home with corporate profit and with individual purpose; a businessman who longed to manage the "soft" side of the business as aggressively as he managed its hard side.

He was also a man with a mission. The staid world of utilities was being forced to transform itself into an industry of nimble, deregulated energy companies. Like Moses of the Old Testament, Bob needed to move a large group of people out of their present homeland into a desert experience of pain and risk, holding out the hope of a future place flowing with milk and honey. The priest in me understood how formidable this challenge would be. The business side of me realized that Bob could not accomplish this salvific task alone. My background provided the language, mythology, and patience to assist a Moses-like business leader in this journey. Besides, I was the only one in the company who had a core competency for dealing with executives who believed themselves to be infallible.

Recruited in the process was a former monk who had some odd skills to offer and divine connections to make. Over time, a relationship formed and grew. However, that is not how it all originally started. During my first year at the company, I jumped at every opportunity to become competent in the business world and a traditional corporate man. By the second year, I had firmly established myself in a corporate setting and had begun dating a wonderful woman in the company’s finance department, a bright accountant with an MBA. Love was blossoming. Life was good. In early spring, a brief visit to the dermatologist revealed a fatal surprise: incurable cancer at its most advanced stage. For the next year I volunteered for an experimental treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and full-body radiation at the National Cancer Institute outside of Washington, D.C.

I survived and came back. I even got married to that lovely accountant. But I was changed. It was bad enough that I had 15 years in the monastery as my sole business training. I now had a near-death experience causing me to see the world from a radically different perspective. The doctors made it clear that I was not "cured." They didn’t yet know how patients would fare with the experimental treatment. So even though I felt fine one day, I could be dead the next.

Armed with this information and having a new bride at my side, I gave up climbing the corporate ladder and decided to reposition priorities. I also wondered: If my career is truly over and I could be dead tomorrow, what did I want to do with my limited time? I kept recalling the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us."

I found myself in a large corporate bureaucracy, no longer concerned with career advancement, more interested in doing the right thing instead of being politically correct, and increasingly focused on coupling my new, business skills with my old priestly ones. This is not your traditional recipe for business success. Much to my surprise, Bob Catell and I came to connect. And when we did, it was just a matter of time before I was called in and told that I was being promoted, relocated to a larger comer office, and given a direct reporting line to the CEO.

The Gospels remind us that there remains something sacred about the world of business and those that live out their vocation there. Spirituality at work isn’t about hosting prayer groups or Bible study sessions in the workplace. I don’t think the business world is ready for that, and I’m not sure it should be.

I have spent numerous years working in large hierarchical institutions, 20 of them in a corporate setting and 15 in a monastery. Whenever you are dealing with large numbers of people joined together around a singular effort, many of the operating principles seem to feel oddly similar. The media once asked Pope John XXIII how many people worked at the Vatican. "About half of them," he said. It’s funny how the challenges confronting leaders, religious and secular alike, have some universal qualities:

Remember that most people are doing the best they can. When I worked in the monastery, 10 percent of the people I met were saints; 10 percent were self-serving rascals; 80 percent were just ordinary folks trying to make improvements to an inherently flawed human system. I found the same ratio when I joined corporate life. It’s remarkable how people still continue to show up with a sense of passion and commitment for the work. They deserve our compassion and support. More importantly, they warrant our companionship. Nobody should have to endure the vicissitudes of life alone. It’s surprising to see how much fun it actually can be when we make the journey together.

Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet firmly planted on the ground. The business world abhors idealists who speak lovely words but accomplish little. It delights in folks with enthusiasm who are committed to accomplishing a tangible result. People of integrity who are committed to a business purpose give me hope for a better tomorrow.

Don’t focus only on high-potential employees; also pay attention to your average ones. They perform most of the work anyway. Engaging their ardor is the key to corporate excellence. I’d even recommend spending some time with the poor performers. Perhaps dawdlers are prognosticators of corporate renewal in disguise. Those living on the margins of any social group can teach us a lot. All prophets for change come from the margins of the community.

Increase your tolerance for opinions that drive you wacky. The future never arrives as we expect; it’s always a surprise. Any time the Divine showed up in the world, most of the folks totally missed the event. They were expecting something more conventional. We risk making the same mistake in business. Breakthroughs show up as irritating distractions to defined business plans. Discordant voices and questioning personalities are harbingers of niche markets and need to be encouraged. Expanding our comfort with surprise leads us to new lines of business. It’s also one of the few practical steps we can take to prepare for heaven.

Remember to occasionally say a prayer. Working out in the world is too tough to go it alone. Spend some time asking for assistance. Prayer also helps that much needed business skill: humility. Success, both personal and corporate, is largely dependent on people and things outside our control. Periodically offering a humble prayer is simply acknowledging that. Napoleon was onto something when he said that leaders are brokers in hope. The work of an executive seems largely spiritual to me: building trust, inspiring staff, gaining commitment, and offering hope. You would be foolish not to ask for all the help you.

And a last bit of advice: Don’t go out and hire a monk to work for your company. You don’t need one. Rather, use the employees you already have. They are the ones who know the business, care about the product, and have a vested interest in making it all work out profitably. Engaging their enthusiasm will be enough to capture the Divine’s fancy and get you all the blessings needed for success.

Some might balk at the impossibility of effectively nurturing the spiritual within the commercial. And for these people, I have a compassionate understanding of this challenge. However, one of the things I learned in the monastery was that just because something appears impossible doesn’t mean you don’t need to work on it. To those needing encouragement, I give you the words of Father Theodore, my old religious adviser: "If you think you’re too small to be effective, then you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito."

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Why Superwoman Needs a Make-over

Bring up an image of Superman in your mind, urges Princeton psychologist Teena Cahill. What do you see? Well, of course, there is that powerful stance, hands balled into fists, poised for action, and planted on muscled thighs. Then there are the eyes – clear, decisive, and looking straight ahead. There is the cape, the aerodynamic suit, and the sleekly booted feet. Absolutely everything about the picture screams power and action.

Yes, Cahill agrees, that pretty much sums up the man of steel. But what about "Superwoman?" What image does that word evoke?

Aha! She has made her point without putting forth a single argument. "Superwoman" has nothing of the cache of her male counterpart. The word conjures up a frazzled woman, hair just a bit unkempt, suit just a bit rumpled. Far from gazing into the distance with a strong, single focus, she is totally unfocused as she stoops to lift a toddler, turns to answer a phone call from her boss, pulls a roast from the oven, and runs off to a community meeting.

"Superwoman," Cahill fumes. "Someone called me that in print just this week. I almost had a heart attack! It is not a compliment for a woman!"

Cahill speaks on "Let’s Reframe Superwoman!" on Thursday, May 13, at 6 p.m. at the Mercer Chapter of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) at the Harrison Conference Center at Merrill Lynch. Cost: $38. Call 609-924-7975.

While she will not countenance the term, Cahill does indeed embody elements of the person who began to be known as "Superwoman" two or three decades ago. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State thanks to a scholarship she won at a county fair. After marriage, three children, and a divorce, she went on to earn a doctorate in psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology, began a career as a teacher, remarried, and moved to Princeton, where she maintains a private practice on Spring Street.

She lives with her husband, a former American Airlines pilot, who is now disabled, her daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are attorneys, and her grandchildren. In addition to her multi-generational household responsibilities, Cahill says that she has "taken care of and buried four parents." But don’t use the word "sandwich generation" to peg her, either. Far from feeling tied down, she sounds ready to give Superman a challenge in the soaring department.

"I just got an agent!" she says. "I’m speaking all over the country. I just got back from Disney World, where I was the only speaker addressing 2,000 people, and I’m on my way up to Connecticut to speak with top executives."

A wife, mother of three, grandmother of five, and psychologist with a growing public speaking career, Cahill says that what she really does is "have fun." No Superwoman angst in her home, thank you very much. Here is some of her advice for reaching that state:

Replace the "S" with a "B". "Let’s reframe Superwoman," says Cahill. "When you think of Superman you think of a powerful man who flies from building to building. It’s a compliment!" The female counterpart of the man in the cape, however, is seen as "a scattered control freak."

Forget the "S" word, she urges. Replace it with balance.

Recognize gender-based differences. Men are hierarchical. They like the idea of an all-powerful leader. Women, on the other hand, tend to be drawn toward leveling the playing field.

"When someone says ‘great dress!,’ we tend to say ‘oh, this? I got it on sale,’" Cahill gives as an example. When a woman is complimented on doing a great job at work, her response is much the same. She often downplays the accomplishment or gives credit to others. As for actually bragging about exceptional results, forget it. Many women see that type of behavior as boorish. Meanwhile, the Supermen on staff rarely hesitate to let everyone know about their wins.

The difference surfaces in management style, too. Women, Cahill finds, are sometimes reluctant to assert themselves as leaders. When this occurs, she says, the men under them often wander away in search of leadership in other departments.

The stereotypical Superwoman, a multi-tasking nurturer, sometimes needs to borrow some of the strength and single-minded focus of Superman.

Superwoman was created by a male-dominated workplace. "Back in the ’70s the world changed," says Cahill. "Women were ready for the workplace, but the workplace wasn’t ready for us. Women were trying to survive in a male world." Ambitious and struggling to fit in, women had trouble with some of the rules. "Here’s what happened," says Cahill. "Women saw problems of balance. In order to be a team player, you had to stay until 7 p.m., but women need to be home to read the kids a book before bed."

Women did just that, and then stayed up until 2 a.m. writing a report. The effort was often for naught. Sleep deprived and guilty about not being able to do more for their families, women were still seen as less productive at work simply because they were not able to put in as much face time. And Superwoman was born.

The wheel has turned. "Women’s issues have become corporate issues," says Cahill. "In 2004 we have to recognize that these are not just women’s issues, but are corporate and family issues." She offers her sons as examples. One is a professor of biology and the other is an engineer working as a director of sales and marketing. "Both are married to high level executive women," she says. "The expectations on my boys are different."

Now it is not just the moms who need to break away from the office before dark. The dads, married to busy career women, must do so too. "Dads need to get home," says Cahill. "Mom might be traveling on business."

Women need to lead the charge. After making tremendous gains for three decades, women as a group have stalled. "Only 13 percent of board members are women," says Cahill. "Women are still moving up in corporations, but at a slower rate." Executive MBA programs, a prime breeding ground for top management, rarely include many women. Women are still scarce in a number of top professions, including engineering.

Cahill does not believe that women can allow a backward slide to take place. A woman’s place, in her view, is in the workplace. "I want women to stay," she says. "Nothing will change until we have women in power."

Staying in the game requires a game plan. Women can have it all, by golly. They just need to redefine "all." An essential first step, in Cahill’s view, is meticulous attention to self-care. Sure the boss needs the report and the kids need to get to soccer and mom needs a lift to the doctor’s office, but every woman must slow down enough to take care of herself first. Do whatever it takes to carve out time for exercise, friendships, and engaging leisure activities. The energy these activities generate will power the rest of your life.

Next, decide what parts of a day require "great" effort, which require "good" effort, and which only require "showing up." It’s possible to do it all, but not at maximum effort. Burnout will result, often followed by a strong urge to drop out. Balance is the art of applying just the right amount of effort to each task.

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The Power of a Good Story

Once upon a time there was a writer. He worked in advertising, radio, and television before carving a unique niche for himself. Now speaking for chimpanzees, Catholic nuns, cleaner cars, and child-safe toys, he is convinced that storytelling is the best way for public service groups to get a message across.

Andy Goodman, principal in A Goodman: Good Ideas for Good Causes (www.agoodmanonline.com) gives the keynote, "Storytelling as Best Practice," at the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers’ First-ever Conference for Grantmakers on Monday, May 17, at 8 a.m. at the Trenton Marriott. The full-day event also features a welcome by Dorothy S. Ridings, CEO of the Council on Foundations, and workshops on a number of topics, including assessment, foundation governance, school reform in New Jersey, and effecting change through public policy. Cost: $175. Call 609-341-2022.

Goodman, a native of White Plains, New York, studied English at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 1976) before going to work for an ad agency in Philadelphia. He then worked in news talk radio at WCAU AM in Philadelphia before moving to a radio station in Florida. Weaving comedic bits into the news, he drew the notice of a radio company that wanted to syndicate his comedy writing. That was the birth of the American Comedy Network, which Goodman and four associates produced from Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In 1991, tired of hearing friends deride radio as "the weak sister" of television, he moved to California, where he spent three seasons writing and co-producing the TV show Dinosaurs for ABC and working on The Nanny. "Writing for TV was my dream," he says, "but it was not fulfilling."

His story came closer to a happy ending when a friend sent him a job posting for the position of president of the Environmental Media Association. He got the job and went to work trying to convince television and movie producers and writers to include environmental messages in their scripts. "It was a big left turn in my career," he says. Slow going, the work involved getting the likes of environmental advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak to writers and producers.

He liked the "work" part of the work, but found that he was spending too much time on fundraising and administration. So after five years he struck out on his own, forming a company to help public service groups clarify and disseminate their messages – whether by website, brochure, print ad, newsletter, or tagline.

"I’m open to any non-profit with progressive leanings," says the transplanted Californian. His clients include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Children’s Action Network, Earth Share of California, Jewish Funders Network, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SeaWeb, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Partnership for Climate Control. His advice to these groups:

Move the stories to the top. "Getting across a good story is so important that right now it’s the first thing I want to work with clients on," he says. Trained to listen to the cadence of stories from birth humans instinctively tune in when a good story begins. There is no better way to capture attention – and to increase retention of key ideas.

"More and more, I’m a believer," says Goodman. "Stories are how to make your identity more clear."

Identify your stories. Sure, stories are important, but what if you don’t have any? Not possible, says Goodman. Every group has stories. "People have fabulous stories," says Goodman, "and they don’t even know it. They put them away, or bury them in annual reports. Or, they’re just so busy making pie charts that they don’t realize how powerful their stories are."

Look closely at core stories. There are categories of stories that every organization should examine. The first is "how did we get started?" That story usually tells a lot about the nature of an organization, says Goodman. The second is "when did we know we were here to stay?" This is the tale of early and emblematic victories, and it is nearly always compelling. "How you win defines you," says Goodman. Next come the performance stories, which catalog everyday challenges. Last are the "learned in defeat" stories. "Don’t bury them," says Goodman. "Give examples of how you overcame defeat."

Develop a sacred bundle. Not every story in every category will be compelling, but within this core of stories there are bound to be riveting human tales. Once identified, they can form the heart of everything from grant proposals to brochures.

"You want them at your fingertips," says Goodman.

Add dramatic structure. "You need a clear protagonist, a goal, and obstacles," says Goodman. The stories must be well told. "People have a tendency to tell the payoff first," he says. He teaches pacing and emphasizes the importance of building interest throughout the telling of the tales.

But can anyone learn to tell a good story? "We are a storytelling species," Goodman replies. The skill may be buried, however. "People have to let go of their training," he says. PowerPoint presentations have to be put in their place. "Take the story and give it first," he advises. "It’s what people are emotionally hooked by." Then, with the audience moved to be receptive, the data can be presented.

During his seminar, Goodman works with each group on developing at least one polished story. "Hopefully, I’m planting the seeds of a storytelling culture," he says. If so, he predicts happy endings all around. After all, he found his story book-perfect career – California sun and all – by finding the stories that enable his clients to connect with their constituencies. In a tough giving environment, non-profits of all stripes may well find their own happily-ever-afters through the magic of "once upon a time."

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Lessons from Leaders Under Fire

Leading under fire is when the flame burns brightest, when we can see what makes a difference, says Michael Useem, author of "The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All." Writes Useem: "It is by examining these defining events of the past that we can best understand and remember what we will need for our own leadership in the future.

Useem, the professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, speaks at the annual Leadership Forum for the Princeton Chamber on Tuesday, May 18, at 8 a.m. at Wallace Hall, Princeton University. Cost: $50. Call 609-924-1776.

Each of the nine stories is shaped around the experience of one person encountering circumstances that would test leadership to its utmost:

Roy Vagelos, CEO of Merck, ends river blindness in Africa; Wagner Dodge outruns a Montana forest fire; Eugene Kranz returns Apollo 13 astronauts to Earth; Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain commands on the Gettysburg battlefield; Clifton Wharton restructures pension giant TIAA-CREF; John Gutfreund loses control of Salomon Inc.; Nancy Barry builds a bank for Third World women; and Alfredo Christiani cracks El Salvador’s killing cycle.

The ninth story, tells how Arlene Blum leads a 1978 expedition of women to climb Annapurna. "She announced her plan of attack on the Dutch Rib: the four most experienced ice climbers would lead, two Sherpas would support them, and others would transport supplies. Her marching order seemed squarely in the interests of the collective, even if it was disquieting for some individuals, but it was greeted with stony silence by all.

"At breakfast the next morning, there were gripes. `I think we should have a discussion about how decisions in this group.’ ‘I think the climbing plan was made undemocratically and should be changed so that everybody gets an equal chance to lead.’ ‘A lot of us are unhappy about the way that decision was made.’

"Hours of acrimonious exchange followed. Near lunch the problem became moot. They had just washed their clothing and announced that they had nothing dry for that day’s climbing in any case. By then, Blum had become convinced that her plan was right but the process all wrong. ‘If there had been an open meeting, my plan would probably have prevailed, and at a much lower cost.’ She knew where she wanted to go but was less sure of how to get there: "I’d had the confidence in my plan to get it accepted but had lacked the confidence in myself necessary to do it openly.’"

The lesson that Useem derives from this experience: "A new position of leadership will engender the experience you lack on arrival, and seeking feedback on your performance in the position will ensure that you take advantage of the experience."


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