Friday, December 18, 2009

Are We a Woman’s Nation?

Nina Simosko, SAP executive and a regular guest speaker in our women's leadership webinars, writes a dynamic blog on leadership issues.

Her latest blog post has the provocative title 'Are We a Woman’s Nation?':

"For sure, we have made progress, but better jobs, more pay and greater opportunity is one thing. Respect is another. Our challenge as leaders is to shift the conversation around the topic of women. After all, if you want profits, you have to smash the glass ceiling."

Read the blog post here >>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Resolutions Every Woman Should Make for 2010

1. Become more influential
Build your ability to influence, persuade, and motivate others, regardless of whether you have a management job title. Influencing Without Authority >>

2. Seek management’s buy-in for a new idea
Take a great technical idea, and sell it to your senior management by partnering with others to build credibility. Selling your technical idea to management >>

3. Don’t let others steal your ideas
Pitch persuasive proposals, and pitch yourself too, to get credit for your work. Getting Credit for Your Ideas >>

4. Learn to delegate effectively
Manage the work performance of others, without hovering about like a micro-manager. How Do I Delegate without Micromanaging >>

5. Build an influential network
You don’t need to be a “shmoozer” to be a good networker, when you include these five key types of people. Five Key People You Need in Your Network >>

6. Ask your role models for mentoring
Approach role models you admire, and engage them as mentors. Mentoring >>

7. Get training without spending money
Find creative ways to learn and get professional development when your company does not have funds available. Funds are not available for training >>

8. Make your accomplishments visible
Promote your accomplishments in ways that don’t leave you feeling sleazy. Learning the Fine Art of Self Promotion >>

9. Figure out what you want to be “when you grow up”
Identify an ideal career niche by understanding three essential elements to a successful and satisfying career. How Do I Find My Niche >>

10. Throw your hat in the ring for a promotion
Reinvent yourself as a candidate for promotion, by working smarter, not harder. Four Ways to Ensure You’re Promoted >>

Friday, December 11, 2009

Work-Life Balance: What is on your ‘Not-To-Do’ list?

Our December 8 Women’s Leadership Webinar featured guest speaker Nina Bhatti, who as Principle Scientist for HP Labs is one of their most senior-ranked technical women leaders.

One of the work-life balance tips discussed was the Not-To-Do list. Create a list of things you give yourself permission not to have to do, for the sake of your sanity and work-life balance. This is a great way to deal with the guilt of having to be a superwoman.

We asked webinar attendees to share with us some items that were going on their not-to-do lists. Not surprisingly, there was a deluge of responses! Here they are:

  • Washing my car!
  • Susan isn't cleaning her house anymore
  • Not to cook a dinner few times per week
  • Not to go back to school yet
  • Always saying yes
  • Limit laundry
  • Passing the chore off to the kids for feeding the dogs!!
  • Not planting new flowers every spring
  • No working out on weekends
  • Laundry
  • Shopping
  • Keeping Saturday mornings to myself - no soccer
  • I'm going to stop feeling guilty for not doing morning workouts... I'm not a morning person and that's OK!
  • Don't answer the phone in the evening
  • Doing my 18 & 20 year olds’ laundry
  • I am not going to edit anymore of my daughters papers.
There were lots of timely holiday-related Not-To-Do list items:
  • Not decorating the house for every holiday
  • Not working during the vacation
  • Send Christmas cards
  • Giving up grocery shopping
  • I no longer decorate so extensively during the holidays
  • Accept all the friend holiday invites
Nice work ladies. Lose the cape!

Register now for the 2010 Women's Leadership Webinar series >>

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Conference Addresses Women’s Under-Representation In ‘IT’

International keynote address ‘Becoming person of influence’, presented by Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc CEO Jo Miller, discussed the important and influential role of IT professionals.

Read the press release from
Multimedia Victoria >>

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2010 Women's Leadership Webinars: Now open for registration

In 2010, we will offer new webinar topics and guest speakers in two year-long tracks for executive leaders and emerging leaders.


Learn proven strategies for transitioning from manager to leader, leading high-performance teams, taking purposeful risks, and becoming a results-oriented visionary. This program is designed for women who are corporate executives, at Director-level or above. Join us to discover what it really takes to succeed as a dynamic, inspiring leader.

Guest speakers include:
  • Romea Smith, Senior Vice President, Customer Support, CA
  • Laurie Oare, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Next Day Gourmet
  • Rose Marie E. Glazer, General Counsel and Secretary, Siemens PLM Software
Starts February 2, 2010. Learn more, or register now >>

Discover ways to gain credibility and expand your influence. Add to your leadership toolkit with techniques to lead and make a greater impact in business, regardless of your current job title. The program is designed for early-career to mid-level women in corporations. Join us to hear first-hand what it means to be a leader, and what it really takes to break into leadership.

Guest speakers include:
  • Betty Chan-Bauza, VP, Strategy and Product, Lifelock
  • Carla D. Brockman, Vice President Administration & Corporate Secretary, OGE Energy Corp.
  • Kim Brown Strickland, Vice President - Finance, Wal-Mart Home Office
Starts February 23, 2010. Learn more, or register now >>

Monday, November 23, 2009

December 7 Poised for Leadership workshop is sold out

As of Tuesday November 10, the December Poised for Leadership workshop is sold out. You may indicate your interest in joining a waitlist or a future program by visiting the workshop web site.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top 8 things you'll learn at the Poised for Leadership workshop, December 7, 2009

Registration is now open for Poised for Leadership, a seminar for women who want to create a roadmap into positions of responsibility, influence and leadership.

At this high-impact day in Mountain View, CA, discover what it really takes for you to break through into leadership.

You will learn how to:
1. Project a seasoned, credible leadership presence
2. Gain visibility and reward for your accomplishments
3. Build a reputation as a leader, expert or go-to person
4. Understand the dynamics of power in your organization
5. Navigate office politics with savvy
6. Leverage your network to gain access to hidden resources, information and opportunities
7. Cultivate influence and get buy-in for ideas and initiatives
8. Create, envision and lead high-profile projects.

Poised for Leadership has been receiving rave reviews from women across the US and Canada in DC, Dallas, Ottawa, RTP, San Jose, Seattle, and most recently Toronto.

Past participants have said:

"This was the best, most beneficial training I've attended in years."

"This seminar is one of the best I've ever attended. You'll walk away with a new inspiration and determination."

"Every point Jo made was relevant. We walked out with strategies for being a leader-not just in our workplace but in our daily lives."

LOCATION: Sponsored by Symantec Corporation, 350 Ellis St, Mountain View, CA 94043

Register now for $259 >>
~ or~
Download brochure with course description & schedule >>

Poised for Leadership, Toronto, September 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Women, men and office politics

After my Office Politics workshop at the Network of Executive Women Leadership Summit, a woman stood up to ask:

"Do men and women handle office politics differently?"

One of the two men at the session, Tom, proceeded to unleash a big belly laugh, so I invited him to speak up.

Tom described his observation that men get more emotional at work: they yell more and overtly show their frustration, while women seem much more calm in the face of conflict.

Count me among the 150 women in the room who were surprised to hear it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Becoming a Person of Influence, at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

I presented How to Become a Person of Influence on Wednesday 9/30 at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, followed by a panel of senior-level women in industry who are role model influencers. The ballroom filled early with 600 women, setting a new high bar for me professionally!

Valerie Bubb Fenwick, Staff Engineer with Sun Microsystems summarized the session her blog post, remarking "if you want to be a leader, you have to be a leader!" I recapped a couple key parts of the presentation with video bloggers Erin "Ed" Donahue Ed and Ashley Myers.

Why You Need to Become a Person of Influence

Your 6 Sources of Influence

Panel - A Person of Influence - In Real Life

After my workshop at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, we brought together a panel of senior-level technical women in industry to build on the influencing principles discussed on my workshop, bringing the theory to life with their stories of influencing in the real world.

From left to right:

Jo Miller, CEO, Women's Leadership Coaching Inc
Rebecca Norlander
, Partner Engineering Manager, Microsoft
Wei Lin
, Sr. Director of Engineering, Symantec
Romea Smith, Sr. Vice President - Customer Support, CA
Dr. Ann Quiroz Gates, Associate Vice President of Research, University of Texas at El Paso
Nina Bhatti, Principal Scientist, HP Labs (Watch Nina's post-panel interview. )

Highlights from the discussion included:

• Hearing about panelists' personal influencing style, and influencing skills they use.

• Why it is important for technical women to learn how to influence

• Advice for women on how to become stronger influencers

• Times when they have tried to influence a person or situation, and failed--how did they recover?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Podcast: Paving Your Road To Leadership

I was invited to be guest speaker on the Paving Your Road to Leadership internet radio show. Host Ellie Nieves and I discussed common mistakes women make, that hold them back from advancing into leadership.

Listen to the podcast on BlogTalkRadio>>

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How To Influence Without Authority

Every month on the Anita Borg Institute's site, I answer a career or leadership question.


" I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for team performance to schedule and budget. How can I influence and motivate the team to get the job done, when I do not have a job title that commands their respect?"

Read the column at

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Influence others in every conversation you have

Women who break through into senior-level leadership get there by delivering results, and knowing how to influence, with or without direct authority.

Laurie Oare is Senior Vice President/General Manager of Next Day Gourmet National, at US Foodservice.

“You can influence others in every conversation you have. In a subtle way, we convey our confidence and professionalism in every interaction that we have with co-workers, customers, superiors and subordinates” , Oare explained.

Oare joins the Women's Leadership Webinar Series as guest speaker in October, to share her tips and personal experiences on the topic 'Becoming a Person of Influence'.

The webinars are ideal for your corporate women's network group. Purchase a log-in, and invite colleagues to watch with you in a conference room. After the 60-minute webinar concludes, ask them to stay for a discussion group. We'll provide discussion questions to get things rolling.

Learn more about the year-long webinar series >>

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Office Politics: Your questions answered by Nina Simosko

The Women's Leadership Webinar Series kicks off 8/19 with "Winning at the Game of Office Politics" with speaker Nina Simosko, of SAP's executive team.

Last time Nina joined us for a webinar, she fielded numerous questions on her favorite topic, office politics. In true rock-star style, she has blogged answers to all of them!

Read Nina's answers>>

Register for the year-long leadership webinar series >>

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Join the Women's Leadership Coaching group on LinkedIn

Women's Leadership Coaching Inc helps women create a roadmap into leadership positions in business, with seminars, webinars and executive coaching.

Join our
LinkedIn group to share leadership ideas and resources, and to network with other like-minded women.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Four Tips for Becoming a Visionary in Challenging Times

Think you can't become a visionary? Think again!

During a recent women’s leadership webinar, I asked Krista Thomas, Vice President, Marketing and Communications for The Calais Initiative at Thomson Reuters, how a person should determine what their organization needs in these challenging economic times.

In addition to answering the question, she addressed a more intriguing issue - how to provide visionary leadership during challenging economic times.

Read the article at >>

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top 5 reasons to register for the Women's Leadership Webinar Series

Our most recent webinar series attracted rave reviews. Here's what participants are saying, and why you should attend.

1) Get tips and motivation to enhance your career
"It was an inspiring presentation. I hope to have a new position soon and am grateful to have these insights and strategies." - Participant.

2) Hear from inspiring women leaders
"It's great to see and hear about so many women leaders. Very motivating." - Participant.

3) Network with other women at your company
"The women were wow'ed at the presentation and stayed afterwards to discuss the things they learned." - Fortune 500 Financial Institution.

4) The price is right
"Thanks for offering these sessions, and for the reasonable price. It's been a fantastic way for other women in our organization to connect and discuss careers and business opportunities." - Herman Miller, Inc.

5) 80% of participants rate the webinars "very good" or "excellent"
"... all but 1 person gave the webinar the top rating of 5 for knowledge of presenters, value of topic, amount of information, meeting webinar objectives, and for the webinar overall. Yeah!!!!!" - EEO Special Emphasis Programs Specialist, Dept of Homeland Security Headquarters.

Begins August 19. Register now for the year-long program >>

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How can I break into the boys' club?

Every month on the Anita Borg Institute's site, I answer a career or leadership question.


Given that I have always worked in a male dominated industry (very often I am the only woman in the room, or one of very few), in an engineering capacity, how can I break into the male networks? It seems that people are just not treating me as one of the “guys”. With my most recent lay-off I get the opportunity to start from scratch, so I want to do it right from the beginning.

Read the column at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free Executive Briefing Webinar, Friday 6/26

On Friday June 26 at 10am Pacific time, I'm hosting a free 30-minute executive briefing webinar.

Learn how my company, Women's Leadership Coaching Inc, helps women create a roadmap into leadership positions in business, with seminars, webinars and executive coaching.

This informational briefing is ideal for:
  • Individuals interested in career advancement
  • Managers who want to develop their high-potential women
  • Corporate women's networks.
Register now (free) >>

Monday, June 1, 2009

Registration is now open! Women's Leadership Webinar Series, starts 8/19

In this year-long, six part webinar series, learn proven strategies for gaining credibility, establishing your brand as a leader, expanding your influence, and leading breakthrough business results. The program is designed for emerging women leaders in corporations.

In every webinar, learn leadership skills, and hear an outstanding woman leader from industry share her experiences, and weigh in with real-world leadership advice:

  • Winning at the Game of Office Politics 8/19/09
  • Becoming a Person of Influence 10/21/09
  • Your Sphere of Influence 12/16/09
  • Create Your Leadership Brand 2/17/10
  • Are You The Invisible Employee? 4/21/10
  • Resiliency Redefined 6/16/10

Hear first-hand what it means to be a leader, and what it really takes to break into leadership.

Register now >>

Ask Jo: Funds are not available for training

Every month on the Anita Borg Institute's site, I answer a career or leadership question.


Funds are not available to send employees to training, but training is needed. What options are there? How can I learn more about my field without spending money?

Read the column at

Monday, May 18, 2009

Delegating Makes You a Mentor

By guest blogger, Ruth Halpern, of Halpern & Associates.

Wondering how to get started as a mentor? Delegate a project to someone today!

I was training a group of attorneys recently who said that they simply don’t have time to mentor young associates—it takes more time to delegate a task than to do it themselves. This is a tough complaint to argue with, because in the short term it’s true: it often seems easier to do a task than to break it down, teach someone else how it should be done, and coach them through the process.

The long term view, however, is that we can’t afford NOT to do it. If we don’t pass on our expertise and know-how, our organizations will be unable to survive us—we’ll have no skilled, well-trained successors. To put it another way, it’s our duty to our employer to mentor and train younger members of the organization. When we postpone or avoid this task, and try to do everything ourselves, we’re dooming the organization.

So, given the importance of mentoring our successors, how do we get past the “I don’t have time” barrier?

Last week, when I was presenting a program at the Northern California Human Resource Association’s HR West Conference, I attended a wonderful training session that provided a good answer to this question. Jo Miller, CEO of
Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., presented a program on “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Jo presents the components of influence very clearly, and one thing resonated with me more than anything else: you can increase your “resources influence” by delegating projects to other people.

Naturally, you don’t delegate in an, “I can’t be bothered with this” way.

Instead, you might pull someone out of the crowd, saying “You’re the right person for this job. You may never have done anything like this before, but I’ve been watching you, and I’ve seen that you have capabilities that go beyond your job description.”

What Jo explained is that you can expand your influence by assigning tasks to people within your organization who might be stretched—and increase their competence, confidence, and reputation—by taking on a task you don’t want to do. You gain in several ways simultaneously:

  • You gain influence, by demonstrating that you’re a person who can build a team and get things done.
  • You gain time, by delegating a project to someone else.
  • You gain a loyal ally, someone who believes in you because you believe in them.
  • You establish yourself as a mentor while learning how to delegate skillfully.

When it’s spelled out like this, why wait?

Read more at Ruth Halpern's blog,

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fear stays silent but passion speaks

Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco, delivered an inspiring and heartfelt keynote titled “Fear stays silent but passion speaks” at last night's 2009 Women of Vision Awards. Prior to joining Cisco, Warrior was CTO at Motorola, where she led a team of 26,000 engineers.

Her five key points were:

1. Every transition brings with it a growth opportunity

-Look at transitions as an opportunity to gain skills.

2. You can gain speed in the turn

-Focus, and prioritize. We have to look at it as an opportunity.

3. Leaders blur boundaries

-It is important to have the ability to work across boundaries in the company, across company boundaries, and country boundaries.

4. The best way to gain recognition is to give it away.
-People are afraid credit will be taken away. Give recognition away. Give credit openly and freely.

5. Opportunity
is a mold waiting to be expanded -There's no such thing as a perfect fit for a job. It is up to each of us to break out of a mold and create opportunity. If you are passionate about something you'll find the courage, and opportunities will come to you.

Honored as Women of Vision award recipients were:
  • Innovation award: Yuqing Gao, Senior Manager, IBM Research, IBM
  • Social Impact award: Jan Cuny, Program Director, National Science Foundation
  • Leadership award: Mitchell Baker, Chairperson, Mozilla
UPDATE: Videos about the three winners are posted on the ABIWT channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ask Jo: How do I become a visionary?

Every month on the Anita Borg Institute's site, I answer a new career or leadership question.


My biggest question/challenge is on establishing vision. This feels a lot like uncharted territory for me. I am a good “executioner”, but don’t see myself as being a visionary and would appreciate information in regards to that.

Read the column at

Friday, March 27, 2009

Career advice from Boeing's SWE National Conference Highlights event

Past Society of Women Engineers award winners described their career paths in a panel moderated by Tamaira Ross, Boeing Associate Technical Fellow.

Angie O'Gorman received the 2005 SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award. Earlier in her career, Angie had spent five years in a job that gave her little scope for career growth. She found her work had become mundane, used SWE to develop her leadership skills, and her management appreciated it.

Terri Morse was recipient of the 2008 SWE Distinguished Service Award. At a time when her job wasn't stretching her, she volunteered for SWE as a way to create a leadership career path, and in doing so proved to her manager that she could handle bigger assignments.

Arlene Brown was nominated by SWE and received the 2008 Puget Sound Engineering Council's Industry Engineer of the Year Ward. Arlene recommended reading "Men are from Mars" to understand gender differences on an intellectual basis. But to really get it, she said "if at all possible, go mentor males" to learn about gender and cultural differences.

Hayley McGuire was recipient of the 2008 Distinguished New engineer Award, and spoke of the time she was disappointed to be turned down for job rotation program. A mentor said "honey, create your own rotation program"... and did she!
Hayley's career goal: " to accomplish that's not been done before, such as find a way to use nuclear propulsion to get us to Mars in half the time".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ask Jo: How do I approach high profile industry experts?

Every month on the Anita Borg Institute's site, I answer a new career or leadership question.

Question: I have the opportunity to meet high-profile industry experts and influential thought-leaders at a conference. How should I approach them and what should I say? Is it OK to send an email to follow up? These people are highly sought-after and busy. I don't want to be a nuisance.

Read the column at

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Speaking at conferences in CA, NE, IA & KS

Here's a list of where I will be speaking in March & April.

Savvy Geek Chix, March 24, Palo Alto CA

Weathering the Economic Storm

Invent Your Future Conference for Women, March 31-April 1, Santa Clara CA

Topic: Recession-proof Your Career by Enhancing Your Networking Savvy.

ICAN Women's Leadership Conference, April 2, Omaha NE
Topics: Under the Influence of You, and Recession-proof Your Career with Networking Savvy.

Society of Women Engineers Santa Clara Valley Section, April 9, Sunnyvale CA

Topic: Creating Your Brand as an Emerging Leader. RSVP to Ashley Pietz.

Iowa Women's Conference, April 15-17, Coralville IA
Topic: Creating Your Brand as an Emerging Leader.

The Women's Lyceum, April 21, Kansas City KS
Topic: Creating Your Leadership Brand.

NCHRA Conference 2009 - The HR West 25th Annual Conference, April 28-29, South San Francisco CA
Topic: Becoming a Person of Influence.

Ask An Executive: Nina Simosko answers your leadership questions

Following the success of our collaboration on our recent webinar, Nina Simosko has extended an open invitation: post your leadership questions to her blog, and she will weigh in with her sage advice.

Nina is a member of the SAP Senior Executive team, heads up all of SAP's system integrator partnerships globally and shares responsibility for managing SAP's global Go To Market relationships. Prior to this role, Nina served as the Global Chief Operating Officer for the worldwide SAP Education organization.

Her blog, Nina Nets it Out - Leadership perspectives by Nina Simosko is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recession-Proof Your Career: new webinars launching 3/24

Are you currently searching for a job?

Have you been intending to revise your resume, to safeguard against layoffs?

Think you can’t get a promotion while your industry is laying people off?

Whatever situation you are in, being intentional about managing your career is a must. Starting March 24, Kim Zilliox leads two new webinar programs that will show you how to raise your profile, create your brand, and position yourself to be sought after.

Click here for information and to register.

The gender gap: more than just a corporate image problem?

Is the gender gap just a corporate image problem? Or are there real implications for company performance?

Few women become executives. But professors at the business schools of Columbia and the University of Maryland found "at least indicative evidence that greater female representation in senior-management positions leads to--and is not merely a result of--better firm quality and performance."

Read the article at

Monday, March 9, 2009

Summary from "Becoming a Person of Influence" HR Skill Enrichment Workshop

By Cristina Gomez, President/Founder, Advantage Personnel Inc.

Thank you to those who attended our HR Skill Enrichment Workshop, "Becoming a Person of Influence", presented by Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching.

We hope you had a great week applying many of the principals Jo taught us. In case life is taking over, here is a brief reminder the principals we learned together.

What did we learn?

* Our own behavior teaches other people how to treat us.

* Remember to be visible, be proactive in connecting with others rather than waiting.

* Don't think that accomplishment alone will get one promoted and respected.

* Focus on developing relationships utilizing our body of knowledge.

* Develop a 30 second commercial pointing out our area of responsibility.

* Always mention my area of expertise and offer to help.

* Convey confidence - whether you feel it or not. Remember confidence is perceived as competent.

* Speak directly -- not too tentatively, not too forcefully. Eliminate tag questions like "don't you think?"

* Be aware of the influence your title carries but don't stop there.

* Remember influence takes time, so start today!

* Don't let opportunities pass you by thinking showing up is enough.

* Volunteer to present at meetings, promote your skills.

* Remember "Establishing relationships is the grand-daddy of influence".

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nina Simosko on office politics - your questions answered

The 2009 Women's Leadership Webinar Series kicked off a week ago with a deluge of great questions on the topic of office politics. Speaker Nina Simosko, in true rock-star style, has since blogged answers to all of them.

QUESTION: How about a situation where employees and execs are situated all over the country, so we work do you achieve the virtual equivalent of "golf"?
Debra, NV (and similar questions from Adriana, ON, Adrianna, IA, Vaishali, CA, Buffy, CO, Ameeta, CA, Sherri, AZ)

NINA: Clearly, this is a tough issue to deal with. Virtual teams make building camaraderie difficult. However, I believe that the fundamental basis of team performance is trust amongst team members and trust can come from dialogue [business & personal], support, performance and other ways which do not necessitate geographic proximity. Again, very tough to replicate the "golf" experience virtually, but not insurmountable if one is willing to work at it in the ways I mentioned and occasionally make the trip!

QUESTION: What are some ways (other than common hobbies) to insert yourself into a coalition?
Jane, CA

JO: Notice who the "key influencers" are in a coalition, and try to build a relationship with them first. Find any common ground -- academic background, technical areas of interest, what they are working on, what they like to read, TV, movies, their family, what they did for the holidays, etc. Have a genuine curiosity for others. Small talk that breaks the ice will get you started.

QUESTION: It seems inauthentic to go around trying to build relationships just for the same of furthering my career. How do you find time and organically meet with influencers?
Christine, TX

NINA: One of the very best ways to connect with people is to offer to assist them in some way. Especially in these challenging economic times, there is no shortage of people who feel overwhelmed and could use some assistance. If you are able to authentically connect with and assist folks with things of importance to them, then they will want to repay the favor and will be available to you when needed. Surely, if it is perceived that you are only reaching out to help yourself, this will not achieve the best outcome. Your efforts to connect with others must be authentic.

JO: We will get more tactical about how to initiate in the April 28 webinar, “Your Sphere of Influence”, but you are right-- you need to find an authentic basis for building relationships with every individual. It's not just about helping yourself -- do it with a mind to help others.

QUESTION: How do you think age factors into office politics and how can you overcome some of the stereotypes?
Sarah, VT

NINA: I do not believe that age should matter. In fact, if you look at some of today's leading companies [Google and Facebook come to mind], the founders and brains behind the organizations are quite young. So, as I stated in the webinar, I am a big believer in performance being the primary factor in one's success within a company. I made reference to someone was saying "my ignorance is my greatest asset" and that expression holds true for someone who might be younger than many within a group or company. For example, someone younger can talk about how using social media tools such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, etc. can provide tremendous value to a company with products or services targeted at that demographic group. Likewise, someone older can bring years of experience and potentially an extensive, long-standing network of contacts that someone younger might not yet have.

QUESTION: Can you comment on our ability to change the game of office politics rather than adapting?
Kelly, WA

NINA: Changing the game is very difficult, if not impossible. However, that said, it may be worth trying in some circumstances. In my own career, I have had to learn the rules of the game in each of the companies that I worked for. However, I was able to create an environment more of my choosing within my team which downplays politics and fosters more open communications.

QUESTION: What suggestions can you give when there are conflicting / competing priorities, even when we are trying to achieve an ultimate goal?
Margaret, CA

NINA: Interesting timing on this question as I just wrote an entry on my blog called "Pick Your Preferences" in which I discuss this topic. Generally, we must make choices, sometimes difficult ones, about our priorities. I welcome your thoughts on this entry and hope it addresses your question to some extent.

QUESTION: What would you recommend when the politics are women-centric not man-centric?
April, CA

NINA: I guess the knife cuts both ways….even during our webinar, we discussed the "good old boys network", but clearly there can also be politics that favor women in some companies too. I think that the same rules ought to apply in these circumstances and that results ought to be the most important goal, not gender or politics.

QUESTION: If you find yourself in an office where the "games" that are being played are borderline between being ethical or not? If you don't play along you're 'black-balled' and if you do you feel bad about yourself and the situation. How do you handle this?
Linda, DC

NINA: As I stated in the webinar, I am a believer in taking the high road at all times. I have seen too many situations where people compromised their ethical or moral compasses in the name of their job and I simply don't agree with this approach. I would rather pursue what I call “authentic leadership” styles than have “false achievement”. I wrote about this very topic in “What Can Leaders Learn from Marion” and welcome your thoughts on this topic and blog entry.

QUESTION: What advice do you have for "taking risks" and navigating regarding office politics in the current environment of lay-offs.
Michelle, WA

NINA: I think that risk taking is an important factor in one's success or failure. Calculated risks that are well thought out and appropriately discussed with management are the "right" types of risks to take and when done properly have the support or acknowledgement of superiors. For me, in these difficult times where we are all being forced to do more with less, those that are unwilling to take appropriate risks are not being as creative or innovative as they could be. It is such creativity and innovation which will ultimately help us pull ourselves out of this economic turmoil and I strongly encourage those in my teams to think in these ways....but to be smart about it!

QUESTION: I was laid off from my previous company when I was 8 months pregnant. Everyone around me agreed that I was not the person who should be laid off because I overdelivered on all my goals. The consensus was that pregnancy and the impending maternity leave was a factor. How can we avoid these situations?
Shilpa, CA

NINA: This is an area that borders legal issues and I don't feel that I can adequately address them. I think it is incumbent upon companies to follow the law in regard to handling such situations.

QUESTION: What books have you read on this topic?
Karen, MI

NINA: From Good to Great, Lead by Example: 50 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Results, The 75 Greatest Management Decisions Ever Made and 21 of the Worst, Freakonomics, and Love is the Killer App. This said, I am not much of a “lead by management book” type. However, I really enjoy reading about other leadership examples, business decisions – both good and bad, alternative ways to think about situations, and simple reminders about ways to succeed in both business and life in general.

JO: On the topic of office politics, I like Gail Evans’ book, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Dr Lois Frankel.

QUESTION: English is my second language and I'm always very self-conscious if others are going to understand me or take me seriously because of my accent... what would you recommend to overcome this fear?
Vianey, CA

NINA: Keep on talking! Working in a global role, I have learned that accents have NOTHING to do with ability! Don't allow yourself to be held back because of your language skills. After all, those around you probably can't speak your native language any better than you speak fact, I'm sure they couldn't even come close! Keep talking, offering your ideas and you will get better and better. And more importantly, your colleagues will get the benefits of your participation and insights.

QUESTION: Once you identify how your "shadow organization" works, what should you do with that information - i.e. where should you try and position yourself?
Erica, TX

JO: I recommend identifying who the effective influencers and coalitions are – those people in your organization who know how things work, who make great things happen. Build relationships, with no agenda in mind. I can promise that if you reach out to a couple new people every week, take a genuine interest, and stay in contact, over time you will be amazed at the ideas, synergies, opportunities etc that show up, just by being open and showing a genuine curiosity about others.

QUESTION: Nina, what are some of the 'rules of the game' that you have encountered?
Shelley, TX and Kay, CA

NINA: I have encountered issues of being the only woman in the room, being younger than many of my colleagues, etc. but I have always kept my focus on delivering value and results. I believe, based on my experience, that outcomes matter the most. If you can deliver what is needed, gender, age and other things are less important.

QUESTION: Do you feel you MUST engage in office politics in order to be considered successful?
Jane, WA

NINA: Politics are a reality and one must not ignore them or do so at their own peril. I am not a fan of politics, but I have learned that ignoring them can have negative consequences. So, I do believe that we all must understand the nature of the politics within our respective companies and participate to the extent necessary.

QUESTION: What if you do not respect the key influencer?
Denise, CA

NINA: In regard to not respecting the key influencer, this is a personal matter which one must deal with on their own terms. What I mean by this is that if you don't respect them due to moral or ethical issues, you may wish to leave the organization. If, on the other hand, you don't respect them for other reasons - performance, reason for being in the position, etc. - then you need to understand the politics of the situation and make your decisions accordingly. For example, if the key influencer is in their position because they are related to a higher up in management but not truly competent to do the role they have, you must recognize that performance is not valued as much as relationship.

QUESTION: At what point do you determine that the politics are not in line with your values and that the organization is not the right one for you?
Janet, CA

NINA: This is a subjective decision as each of our values are personal. However, I would not recommend anyone stay in a position where they believe that they would be encouraged or forced to compromise their values or morals. Of course, these economic times may demand that we do all that we must to keep our job and income, but at some point, we all get pushed too far. Fortunately, I have not had such situations occur in my career.

JO: In my experience, women tend to stay longer than they should in a culture that is not a match, or in positions where a manager is putting a lid on their career development. Building relationships and getting to know people better can do a lot to build appreciation of diverse of values and perspectives, so give that a genuine effort for at least a few months.

QUESTION: What would you recommend as far as being successful in understanding office politics if you're coming from the different culture/country?
Tetyana, WA

JO: Whether starting a job in a new organization, culture, state or country, my top tip would be the same: map the shadow organization during your first few months in the job. Play the role of observer at first, noting what you learn, but at some point your confidence will picks up. You will feel ready to jump in and begin building your own relationships and coalitions. If you meet someone who seems to navigate the environment well, ask them to mentor you on company culture.

QUESTION: How to deal with the generation gap in the office (those who worked for 30 years for the company vs younger employees in the team)
Tetyana, WA

NINA: As we discussed during the webinar, to quickly learn about the politics of an organization, whether I am simply a new employee or coming from a different culture/country, I would ask others who have been around for a while and seek out those that seemingly have influence within the group or company. People like to be sought out for advice or guidance and generally, at least in my experience, are willing to assist others. As for the generational gaps, I believe that those who have 30 years have extensive experience and networks that can be of great value, while younger employees may have more technical savvy or comfort which can add value, or perhaps efficiencies. As they say, it takes 9 players to field a baseball team. So, we each must play our respective positions to the best extent possible so that our team has the greatest potential of success.

QUESTION: Any input around what if one of the rules of the game is belonging to a specific religion?
Denise, CA

NINA: I tend to leave religion out of the office and believe strongly that this is the right course to take. My religion does not and should not matter in terms of my ability to do my job to the best extent possible. If there are cliques forming around religious bases, I would bring this issue to the attention of HR and ask them to handle it appropriately.

QUESTION: What do you do when your manager looks like years of experience instead of performance?
Sushma, CA

NINA: Understanding the criteria that are valued within an organization is critical to one's performance and success. However, if years of experience is the criterion that is most valued rather than results or performance, then you may need to consider if this is something you are willing to invest years in or if you would be better off in a position where performance was more highly valued.

QUESTION: Playing golf, exercising with a person of influence - Isn't this a situation where you are taking advantage of a relationship for selfish reasons?
Kim, CA

NINA: I don't see engaging with a person of influence, be it on the golf course or in a gym, as selfish. For me, I love to exercise and when traveling on business, I regularly use the gym facilities in or near the hotels that I stay in. It is purely coincidental that a very senior executive within my company also likes to exercise and use the facilities when traveling. So, it is somewhat often that we find ourselves on treadmills or other exercise machines that are right next to one another and we are able to strike up conversations which often relate to business issues. I don't do this for selfish reasons, but certainly feel that my relationship with this person is stronger due to our shared interests and time together during exercise. As for the question on remote site, see my prior answer(s).

QUESTION: Do family or children pose any types of challenges for Nina or Jo?
Eloise, WA

NINA: I don't have any children so that does not pose any issues for me. And, my husband is a very understanding person and fortunately he understands the demands of my career and supports me wholeheartedly, which is truly a blessing since I know that this is not always the case for people with careers as demanding as mine.

JO: My situation is similar to Nina's. I invite you to join our April 28 webinar, and ask Genevieve Haldemann who she balances a young family and a demanding job. Our December webinar attacks work-life balance issues directly too.

QUESTION: Please share tips for dealing with team members who are not pulling their weight.
Tershea, TX

NINA: I am not a fan of carrying dead weight. Each year, I recommend that people within my teams are stack ranked and we drop those that underperform. Especially in these very demanding times, there is not a chance that we can carry underperforming personnel. As I have been known to say, a motto of sorts that I like is "achieve or leave".

QUESTION: Nina - Earlier you said, Leadership is about skills not gender" and then later you said, "It's not what you know but who you know". Doesn't one statement contradict the other? Doesn't the 2nd statement an example of office politics?
Aida, WA

NINA: I do not see these statements as contradictory to one another. Leadership is about skills and results. Leveraging one's network to achieve the desired outcomes is not a bad or political way to do your job to the best extent possible. I know some managers who are brilliant at doing the work themselves given their knowledge, but at the same time, I know other managers who are fantastic at facilitating the necessary outcome by bringing the right team of people together to get the task at hand done. However one gets to the desired outcome, it is this result that I am most focused on, barring, of course, doing so legally, ethically, etc.

QUESTION: You mentioned connecting with others outside of the office. What are your recommendations at connecting with remotely located leaders/colleagues?
Dixie, MO

NINA: Technology can be a great asset in connecting with others who are remote from you. I use email, phones, instant messaging, Twitter, blogging, etc. to communicate with those in my network. The blogging gives those who don't know me very well a chance to learn about my views/perspectives on things while many of the other tools that I mentioned allow me to keep open lines of communication with anyone, anywhere at anytime!

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