Reflections on the WLI Keynote

Over the next few days while attending the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) I will post a few blogs that discusses my take-aways from the sessions.  It is a good way for me to make sense of the material and it offers non-attendees a glimpse at the content and discussion.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Tonight, the keynote speaker was accomplished author Sara Laschever, co-author of two best-selling books including “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change” (2007) and “Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want” (2009).”

While it is no secret that women may struggle with negotiation Laschever’s sobering comments about the role we play as leaders and managers in helping to shape the the culture of negotiation in the workplace really stuck with me.

“Both men and women expect women to accept less and concede more,” Laschever said.

Think about that for a minute.  While I do not believe that most people consciously go out of their way to treat people differently, do we have a different threshold of understanding/support/advocacy for men than for women?

If her words are true, then what does that mean for how we hire, advocate, provide feedback and promote?  What can we do to create an atmosphere that continuously checks our own innate biases?

The second part of her keynote that I have been reflecting on is about the concept of knowing what your employees want from their work experience.  Laschever said that we can manage people better if we truly understand their goals and long-term objectives.  I believe it also helps us to serve as better advocates for them in the process.

What do your employees want from their current position?  What opportunities are they seeking in the future?  It is important to separate what YOU might want for them and instead focus on helping them achieve their goals.

What do you think about Laschever’s comments?  What resonated for you?

Follow the discussion at #WLI11



About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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12 Responses to Reflections on the WLI Keynote

  1. Thanks for doing this post Ann Marie (and I’m sure several others from the conference). That question you posed about ‘What do your employees want from their current position?” — that’s something I am constantly evaluating with my RA’s and DA’s — each individual has their own answer to that question & it is up to me to help them get what they want.

    Looking forward to more posts about the conference!

    • Thanks Brian! For those of us who are in Higher Ed it is important to keep focus on what matters most–our students!–however it is also important to get a sense of the goals of our employees in order to retain happy, satisfied and committed staff who (in turn) are doing their best everyday for our students.

  2. I study discrimination in K-12 environments and this post really resonated with me. Too often, I hear people talk about women and their “lack” of negotiation skills. This thinking puts the responsibility back on the woman but does nothing to address the institutional challenges that women may face when negotiating (a larger question–why must we negotiate at all for fair pay for fair work? But that’s neither here nor there).

    Joan Acker does a lot of work on organizational discrimination and raises the question of how organizations can become less gendered so that “success” has multiple definitions.

    • Great points Stephanie! The institutional challenges are much more complex to address but it starts right here-recognizing that the system (inherently) is not necessarily a meritocracy. It will be up to folks like us to find ways to implement balancing measures in our work.

  3. Candace Dennig says:

    Ann Marie – thanks for the post! What’s most resonating for me today about what you wrote is helping understand what employees want rather than what you want FOR them. It’s easy to decide what others want in your own mind, especially if they aren’t moving forward with their own goals and/or you see their potential and want to “help” them. In the end, you’ve pushed them to achieve goals that were not theirs in the first place, and they’re still not satisfied professionally.

    How do we dig deep with employees to understand them, and work with them to help them find their own definition of “success”?

    • Thanks for reading, Candace! I think it is easy (full admission–I have done this, too) to assume that you know what someone professionally wants, but it wasn’t till I consistently asked and (this is key) really listened to their own personal aspirations that I fully understood how they wanted to shape their path. This then allowed me to focus on helping them achieve THEIR goals in ways that felt authentic to them.

  4. Makes me think about supervison and what other questions I should be asking…get ready! Thanks AMK. Great post and makes me miss #WLI11,

  5. I love this! What do I want for my staff vs what THEY want for themselves? Very humbling to think this way and it will be a question and discussion during up coming contact meetings. It completely changes the conversation of management. Who wouldn’t be more invested in their institution if they knew what they were doing now had a great purse for what they hope to do later and that her/his supervisor was advocating for their growth. Thanks, girl!

    • Good thoughts Amy! I’m sure we will chat more about this when we talk next week! I do agree, these concepts do, as you say, “completely changes the conversation of management.” I think it’s important that we as managers critically think more about this!

  6. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this incredible knowledge from #wli11! It is wonderful to be able to follow along, pick up on the key concepts and use them as springboards to new research. I imagine it’s a jam packed conference, so I really appreciate you taking the time to blog and tweet your way through it!

    As for this post, asking staff what they want out of their work experience is so simple, but I imagine an often overlooked idea. I am just about to wrap up fall evaluations and I asked all of my staff what they would like to get out of the role and their experience next semester. I’ve asked them to reflect over the holidays, and come back prepared to discuss this. Knowing what they want and need will help me to better support them on their journey. No matter what level you are at, this is an important discussion to have with your staff.

    Another thought. If your supervisor hasn’t asked you this question, TELL THEM. Take the initiative to have the conversation.

    Thanks again AMK, look forward to the rest of the series 🙂

  7. Thanks Kate! You would love WLI–great convos and tons of learning and practical application.

    I agree, sometimes these very simple things are overlooked. When we think about the process of “on-boarding” a new staff member, questions like this should be on the top of our list! )

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