Category Archives: Books

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success”

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Reviewed by Femflection

Sylvia Ann Hewlett is the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a Manhattan-based think tank where she chairs a task force of eighty-two multinational companies focused on fully realising the new streams of labor in the global marketplace.

Back Cover Summary:

This book is immensely practical. Hewlett teases out tactics that can help you raise your game and close the gap between merit and success. The author offers the unvarnished advice you won’t get from supportive friends and tackles head-on such touchy subjects as too-tight clothing and too-shrill voices. She shows how the standards for EP vary for men, women, multicultural, and LGBT employees, and she shares how to get meaningful feedback from politically correct bosses intent on avoiding the real issues.

Executive Presence is teachable. You can learn how to “show teeth” while remaining likable, and you can teach yourself how to dress appropriately while staying true to yourself. With hard facts and vivid examples, Hewlett shows you how to ace EP and fully realize your unique potential—no matter who you are, no matter where you work.

Some “Executive Presence” quotes:

  • “how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication), and how you look (appearance) count for a lot in determining your leadership presence.”
  • “It is executive presence—and no man or woman attains a top job, lands an extraordinary deal, or develops a significant following without this heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal. It’s an amalgam of qualities that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be.”
  • “In this regard, professionals of color may hold an edge. In focus groups we conducted, countless participants confirmed that being a minority is itself a relentless exercise in reading others in order to anticipate and overcome reflexive bias or unconscious resistance.”
  • “It is executive presence—and no man or woman attains a top job, lands an extraordinary deal, or develops a significant following without this heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal.”
  • “When companies and leaders know how to harness and leverage gender, generation, ethnicity, race, culture, and nationality, there is a significant impact on the bottom line.”
  • “There are simple rules of engagement: You need to have your voice, but it has to be very intentional – be brief and to the point, with fresh ideas. Don’t restate things someone else has said. Make eye contact with the person who has the floor.”
  • “There are three pillars, regardless of your work culture, whether you’re in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street: how you look, how you speak, and how you behave. It’s all three things, and nailing them makes you a contender.”
  • “Women have made enormous progress on the lower and middle rungs of the career ladder, but we are failing to make the leap into senior positions. Everyone jumps to the conclusion that it’s motherhood that holds women back, but often the big roadblock is the lack of executive presence.”

“Executive Presence” – the Book:

You might have the qualifications to be considered for your dream job, but you won’t get far unless you can signal that you’re “leadership material” and that you “have what it takes.” Professionals are judged on presence as well as on performance.

As such, leadership isn’t as much about what you do, but rather how you look and come across while you are doing it.

The author found that executive presence rests on three pillars:

• How you act (gravitas)

• How you speak (communication)

• How you look (appearance)

You don’t need to have all of these elements in equal measure:

Gravitas is the most important with 67% of the executives surveyed say that it matters most.
Communication comes in at 28%.
Appearance comes in at 5%.
Demonstrating confidence through “grace under fire”, the ability to make tough decisions, integrity and emotional intelligence are the important ingredients of gravitas.

Communication (superior speaking skills, the ability to command/read a room, assertiveness and sense of humor) and appearance (being polished and groomed, fit/slim, appropriate wardrobe choices) tend to be significant factors in assessing a person’s gravitas.

The book is organized into seven simple chapters that will lead the reader on the journey toward building up their Executive Presence:

Chapter 1: What is Executive Presence

Chapter 2: Gravitas

Chapter 3: Communication

Chapter 4: Appearance

Chapter 5: Feedback Failures

Chapter 6: Walking the Tightrope

Chapter 7: Authenticity versus Conformity

Each chapter contains specific examples from well-known companies, brands and people that you’ve watched on the news.

Much of the book is taken up in discussing how cultural prejudices can be overcome. The author is of the view that the best results are achieved by accentuating the strengths that make you different from the white alpha male, rather than by trying to pretend to be a white alpha male.

In order for your voice to be heard, you must first be in a position where people will listen to you. If you are at a point in your career where you are delivering solid results, but just can’t seem to get to the next level, Executive Presence could be the missing link. Regardless of where you are in your career or even to what level of leadership you aspire to, “Executive Presence” can serve as a helpful guide to ensure you can bridge the gap between merit and success.

This book is for sure also useful for leaders who are ready to have their preconceptions challenged to ensure that going forward their workplaces can experience the benefits of greater diversity.

Want to buy book

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

 

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Phyllis Chesler, “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman”

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Reviewed by Femflection

 

Phyllis Chesler (born October 1, 1940) is an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY).

She is known as a feminist psychologist, and is the author of 16 books, including the best-seller Women and Madness (1972). Chesler has written on topics such as gender, mental illness, divorce and child custody, surrogacy, second-wave feminism, pornography, prostitution, incest, and violence against women.

 

Some “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” quotes:

  • “Before I began research for this book I was not consciously aware that women were aggressive in indirect ways, that they gossiped and ostracized each other incessantly, and did not acknowledge their own envious and competitive feelings. I now understand that, in order to survive as a woman, among women, one must speak carefully, cautiously, neutrally, indirectly; one must pay careful attention to what more socially powerful women have to say before one speaks; one must learn how to flatter, manipulate, aree with, and appease them. And, if one is hurt or offended by another woman, one does not say so outright; one expresses it indirectly, by turning others against her. Of course, I refuse to learn these “girlish” lessons.”
  • “The idea that women’s strong attachments to each other are what make them so vulnerable is horrifying. I count my close friendships with a few girls that I know as one of the best things I have going for me right now. My love for them leaves me open to hurt, but … all love does, or at least that’s the cliche. Perhaps girls and women do come to love each other too quickly, or once they are trapped into appearing as though they love one another, they don’t want to back out of it. That is probably true. But a fear of confrontation in relationships is the downside. The ability to love easily is a positive.”
  • “For most women, being seen, having others pay attention to you, is imagined and experienced as more desirable and more powerful than commanding an army or seizing control of the means of production and reproduction.”
  • “That these girls avoid use of physical violence in resolving conflict, does not mean that these conflicts are resolved in meaningful and enduring ways. Girls might smile, give in, give up – and then continue the conflict behind their opponents’ backs. Girls might also smile, give in, make fatal compromises, because their need to belong (or not to be excluded) is more important to them than sticking to their principles.”
  • “ [As a result of internalized sexist views,] women unconsciously expect constant nurturing from other women, and this expectation is irrational. In reality, normal women are quite aggressive and competitive toward other women. Women have been taught to deny this. The denial leads to grudge-holding, rumor-mongering, slander, and ostracism. This sort of indirect aggression is painful to experience, since most women also depend on other women for emotional intimacy, friendship, and social approval.”
  • “One day, you think you’re part of a community, the next moment, you’re all alone, no one you used to know looks you in the eye, no one says anything specific, but you just never see anyone again. It’s like having your entire family get wiped out, only they’re still alive, and seeing each other. You’re the one who’s really been wiped out.”
  • “Calling another woman a “slut,” “crazy,” “difficult,” and “enemy,” is a way to get her out of the way, punish her, break her spirit, because you envy her… What might help is a commitment not to believe everything you hear, but in fact to disbelieve it, especially if it’s something negative about another woman. It is important that a woman develop the courage to stand up to a slanderer or a bully, knowing that she risks being the next to be slandered or intimidated… The women whom I interviewed about woman’s inhumanity to woman mainly talked about how other women had disappointed or betrayed them. Few were able to recall the ways in which they had disappointed or betrayed other women.”

 

“Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” – The book:

This pioneering book addressed the subject of female indirect aggression, both in the family and the workplace, both in childhood and adulthood, and covered woman’s capacity for cruelty, competition, envy, and ostracism; the ways in which women, like men, have internalized sexist beliefs; and the importance of acknowledging the “shadow side” of female-female relationships, especially because such relationships are so important to women.

The book was reviewed in many publications, and the author was interviewed widely in South America, North America (including in The New York Times), Europe, and Asia.

It received a front page review in the Washington Post Book World written by Deborah Tannen.

Tannen wrote: “Chesler seems to have read everything and thought deeply about it….Along with social commentary and psychological insight, Chesler offers astute literary criticism….many of Chesler’s richest scenarios are drawn from the more than 500 interviews she conducted … many of Chesler’s examples have an unmistakable and heartbreaking ring of familiarity. The time has come to stop idealizing or demonizing either sex. Seeing women, like men, as capable of both courage and jealousy, of providing care, and causing pain, is no more nor less than acknowledging women as fully human.”

Most women have had some experience of disempowerment or out-and-out mistreatment at the hands of a woman. This largely taboo subject Is the focus of Phyllis Chesler’s book, “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.”

Chesler has not lost her passion for women’s liberation; nor has she abandoned her analysis of patriarchy. It is still the case that most overt violence against women comes from men. But here Chesler is interested in how and why women hold each other back and put each other down. With its heady amalgam of research in psychology, anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary theory; interviews with victims of same-sex sexism and woman-on-woman aggression; mythology and fairy tales; psychoanalytic studies; feminist history; and personal narrative, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman examines every conceivable form of female-on-female injury, from destructive gossip to female support for sexual mutilation and “honor killings.”

When Phyllis Chesler conducted interviews for her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, women “mainly talked about how other women had disappointed or betrayed them. Few were able to recall the ways in which they had disappointed or betrayed other women.”

How women view and treat other women matters. Are women oppressed? Yes. Do oppressed people internalize their oppressors’ attitudes? Without a doubt. Prejudice must first be acknowledged before it can be resisted or overcome. More than men, women depend upon one another for emotional intimacy and bonding, and exclusionary and sexist behavior enforces female conformity and discourages independence and psychological growth.

Why do girls and women engage in these kinds of direct and indirect acts of aggression towards one another? Why do we smile while stabbing each other in the back?

Chesler said she wrote the book so that women will learn how to treat each other more respectfully, which is certainly a worthy goal.

She urges us to look within, to treat other women realistically, ethically, and kindly, and to forge bold and compassionate alliances. This is a necessary next step for women, without which they will never be liberated.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything

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Reviewed by Femflection

Harvard’s most popular professor explains how thinkers from Confucius to Zhuangzi can transform our lives

Professor Michael Puett’s course in Chinese philosophy has taken Harvard by storm. In The Path, he collaborates with journalist and author Christine Gross-Loh to make this timeless wisdom accessible to everyone for the very first time.

The ideas developed by Chinese philosophers are among the most influential in history – but the majority remain unknown by Western people. Continue reading

Hermina Ibarra, “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader”

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Reviewed by Femflection

 

Herminia Ibarra is a professor of Leadership and Learning, the Chair of the Organizational Behavior department, and the founding director of “The Leadership Transition” executive education program at INSEAD. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council, and consults with a wide variety of companies around the world in the areas of leadership development and talent management, with a special focus on women and leadership. Continue reading

Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero and Don Tennant, “Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception”.

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Reviewed by Femflection

How to spot a lie and get people to tell you the truth?

Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero – former CIA officers – are among the world’s best at recognizing deceptive behavior.

In “Spy the Lie” they share their proven techniques for uncovering a lie. They show how a special methodology which was developed to detect deception in the counterterrorism and criminal investigation can be applied in our daily lives.

Continue reading

Cait Clarke and Neil Shister, “Dare to Ask! The Woman’s Guidebook to Successful Negotiating”

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Reviewed by Femflection

Cait Clarke is the Director of Public Interest Law Opportunities at Equal Justice Works in Washington, D.C. where she directs the largest legal fellowship program in the United States. She has been a corporate and non-profit negotiation consultant and was the founding director of the National Defender Leadership Institute. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Neil Shister is a journalist who has been a correspondent for Time Magazine, television writer for the Miami Herald, editor of Atlanta Magazine and a marketing executive with Inc. Magazine. He is the author of the best seller 10 Minute Guide to Negotiating. Continue reading

Deborah A. Bailey, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life”

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Reviewed by Femflection

Deborah A. Bailey is a sought after expert to discuss entrepreneurial and workplace issues. After over twenty years in the corporate world, Deborah graduated from Coach U and transitioned into entrepreneurship. She’s the author of of several novels and non-fiction books, in addition to a short story collection, a speaker and the host of “Women Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of Success,” an internet radio talk show where she provides candid discussions with today’s top entrepreneurs, authors and industry experts. Continue reading