Having More Power at the Bargaining Table Helps Women — But Also Sparks Backlash

| by Deborah Lynn Blumberg

A large-scale study of job negotiations finds that women with stronger options were penalized for being too assertive.

In July, a 16-year-old lifeguard penned a note to the Washington Postopen in new window detailing how she and another girl were being paid less than the teenage boys they worked with. Two weeks earlier, the University of Oregon paid $450,000 to settle a lawsuitopen in new window filed by a psychology professor who’d found out she was being paid several thousand dollars less than her male counterparts.

Disparities between women and men working in similar positions remain a stubborn feature of many workplaces. The pay gap has held steady for more than a decade in the U.S., with women earning 84 cents for every dollaropen in new window earned by men. Similarly, for every 85 women who advance to management positions, 100 men are promoted, according to a recent studyopen in new window by McKinsey.

Laws like the Equal Pay Act and corporate programs to address gender inequality have helped combat some of the more egregious discrepancies. But subtler biases and patterns of disadvantage persist. Past research has found that women often underperform relative to men in negotiations over salary, promotions, and benefits. One theory for this gender gap is that women aren’t assertive enough when they negotiate. Another hypothesis is that when women assert themselves, they experience backlash from their negotiation partners. Continue reading

How the “Butterfly Effect” Can Harm Firm Performance

by Ithai Stern, INSEAD Associate Professor of Strategy and Guoli Chen, INSEAD Professor of Strategy

Firms need to develop appropriate HR risk management strategies to lessen the impact of unanticipated employee departures.

Strategic human capital is a firm’s most valuable resource. Established research leans towards the theory that strategic human capital (employees with valuable, non-substitutable knowledge, skills and abilities) can provide firms with a sustainable competitive advantage. As a result, firms are led to believe that, to achieve a competitive advantage, they need to attract and hold onto strategic human capital (valuable employees).

Consequently, much research has gone into discovering what factors govern employee departure decisions and how their departures impact firm performance. However, the question remains: Does employee departure lead to poor firm performance, or does poor firm performance lead to employee departure?

Our research provides clear evidence that employee departures do negatively impact firm performance, and, more importantly, this impact is amplified by the strength of the employee-firm relationship. In addition, our results revealed a third contributing factor to employee departure decisions: the “butterfly effect” of uncontrollable, external events (accidents and disasters).

We examined the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident (caused by the tsunami that followed the earthquake on 11 March 2011 in Japan). We sampled 9,564 data points throughout the US over the course of six years. Our sample period covered the three years preceding the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the three following years. Our treatment group consisted of 797 firms located within 80 km of a US operating nuclear plant. Our control group consisted of 797 equal firms located 160-240 km away from a US operating nuclear plant. Continue reading

9 behaviors that make effective leaders, according to Google research

By Sarah Goff-Dupont–Atlassian

Every so often, Google employees answer a 13-point questionnaire regarding their manager’s performance. The questionnaire’s contents reveal what, according to Google’s research, makes for effective leadership.

Many people who take on leadership positions flounder in the role. The qualities that make you an outstanding accountant, developer, marketer, or customer service rep may earn you a manager title, but they aren’t the same skills you’ll need to do the job well. And most likely, that promotion doesn’t come with extensive leadership training.

Someday I hope to be a totally mediocre manager

– Nobody ever

It seems Google was determined to do better for their managers and the teams they lead. They parlayed their research on high-performing teams into a feedback mechanism that helps leaders understand how they’re doing and which traits they might need to develop further. Every so often, employees answer a 13-point questionnaire regarding their manager’s performance. The questionnaire’s contents reveal what, according to Google’s research, makes for effective leadership.

Give actionable feedback that improves performance

The best way to make feedback actionable is to make it immediate. Don’t wait until annual review time. Don’t even wait until your next one-on-one meeting. Whenever possible, deliver feedback within a day of whatever event you’re commenting on so it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. And don’t stress about formalities.

A quick word in the hallway or ping via chat is perfectly fine. (Unless we’re talking about critical feedback on a loaded issue. In that case, grab a private room and sit down together.) Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor (and, notably, a former Google executive) argues you need only two elements to provide effective feedback: show that you care personally and challenge the other person directly. Continue reading

What it means to be a Human leader

by James Ashton


Talk to some CEOs, and it becomes clear that lockdowns imposed by COVID-19 tore down barriers between them and their workforce. One leader I know was taken aback by the response he got for a casual reference to “all 8,000 of us” in an all-hands Zoom call. Isolated staff clung to what they saw as a significant moment of togetherness, and emailed him their heartfelt thanks.

Other CEOs acknowledge the fresh divides that were erected and still need to be navigated. In an interview, Amanda Blanc, CEO of London-based insurance and savings group Aviva, highlighted the challenge of remote leadership, including presenting over “video walls.” “If you were an introvert, it would be a very difficult thing to do,” she told the Sunday Times of London.

The ambition to preserve the status quo, though, drove some CEOs to behave as normal, including Yves Perrier of French asset manager Amundi, who went to his Paris office every day of lockdown. I suspect it was just as comforting for him as it was intended to be for his staff. But others took this idea to extreme lengths, such as a CEO who filmed his Christmas message last year standing at a lectern in an empty lecture hall.

Going into the pandemic, I was focused on the leaders that I described in my recent book, The Nine Types of Leader. This taxonomy was distilled from encounters with CEOs during my 20 years in financial journalism. In that time, I had examined up close the all-powerful Alpha, growling into his mobile phone or summoning lieutenants to join him at the opera; the passionate Lover, throwing herself into an advertising pitch or leading a high-energy workout; the fearless Fixer, dispatching staff and pleading for clemency from creditors; and the others. But the one that stands out as lockdowns subside and economies start opening up in many markets is the Human. Continue reading

Facilitate collaborative breakthrough with these moves

by Adam Kahane

By alternating between top-down and bottom-up approaches to problem-solving, teams can make progress.

Early in my career as a facilitator of multi-stakeholder collaborations, my colleagues and I led a two-year strategy project for a Fortune 50 logistics company. The company’s established way of doing things was vertical: the CEO managed by giving forceful, detailed directives, which had produced coordination and cohesion that enabled outstanding business success. But the COO thought the company’s situation was dangerous. Globalization and digitization were changing the competitive landscape, and he wanted employees from across the organization to collaborate more horizontally to create innovative responses.

My team worked with the COO and his colleagues to agree on a project scope, timeline, and process, and to charter a cross-level, cross-departmental team. The process we designed for the team was more egalitarian and creative than what they were used to. They immersed themselves in the changes in their market by spending time on the front lines of the organization, going on learning journeys to successful organizations in other sectors, and constructing scenarios of possible futures. They participated in workshops that emphasized full engagement on the part of all team members and that included structured exercises designed to generate, develop, and test innovative options.

This transformative process enabled breakthrough by creating a space in which the company’s command-and-control culture—which assumed that the bosses knew best—was suspended. This in turn enabled greater contribution by participants from different departments and from different levels in the hierarchy. The project team cut across the siloed organization, where lines of communication ran up and down rather than from side to side, so the process enabled greater connection. And the company had a steep hierarchy of privilege, with senior people having much greater compensation and agency, so the process also enabled more equitable contribution and connection. By enabling contribution, connection, and equity, our transformative facilitation helped this team come up with and implement a set of initiatives to launch new service offerings and to streamline company operations. Continue reading