(not) Moving Up? Women, Do You Know What Skills You Are (most likely) Lacking?

Upward move from middle management requires a particular sets of skills. Do you what they are?

Women, I implore you, if you are interested how to get – or why you are not moving upwards – from that ingrained middle management position even though you are liked, respected and your team works well under your leadership, click here and listen to these 14 minutes that can change your career and your life!

Why is it that in the last 20-30 years we have not closed the gender gap in organizational leadership? Why is it women still make only about 17% of leaders in their organizations? Why is it that if women make 50% of middle management why only less than 1/3 make it to top management?

That’s where the 33% is missing! Wonder no more!

Susan Colantuono is a wonderful un-hurried speaker who make TOTAL sense. I was sitting on my couch going Oh My Gosh, Oh my lord, Oh good grief, Oh my…(you get the picture here!) thinking how much sense it made and wondering why women don’t get to hear THIS very advise? Susan made me see very clearly the amount of work and strides we, as women, made to be now fully represented in ‘middle management’ at 50%, but not any higher. Why? What is the reason? What is the barrier? How do we overcome it as women and as a society together? Are we not educated? Not smart? Not strong? Not decisive or shark-ey enough? Not able to make tough decision? Not willing to stand up to authority? Not willing to risk?  Nah, that can’t be it… Why? Simple, because I KNOW!

And here is why:

Who EVER worked with a team of strong, authoritative, opinionated, educated, fearless, fierce, decisive, responsible, tough, hard-working, life-and-death-facing, crises-decision-making, disastrous-consequences-averting, administration-challenging, patient-advocating, doctors-opposing, and hunger-and-exhaustion-fighting intensive care unit (ICU) Registered Nurses (RNs) – they know better! Our continuous assessment, ongoing analysis, constant prioritization and re-prioritization, fearless leadership, team-building and communication skills, along with our ability to gather data, organize work and people, follow through, administer, implement and survive almost 13 hours of never-ending organized chaos and madness -> don’t tell me we cannot lead an organization where people don’t die if we delay our decision or where people’s health does not deteriorate if our analysis and communication is not performed within few minutes or hours?

What other organizations work under THOSE set of circumstances?

So reflecting upon my own career, thinking back on advise I have received or the words of wisdom I heard and let’s be honest – I never heard this! True, initially, studying nursing, the core objectives were clinical knowledge, taking care of babies and delivering the best nursing practice. Next, during my political science & women’s studies, I have not heard this either – probably thinking we will talk politics or policy (the operative word here “talk” I guess) so we will not need it. Where I finally figured out the importance and the need for a different set of skills, and where I truly comprehended what that aspect & ability could and would mean to an organization, was in Grad School and that was thanks to singing up for a series of  MBA classes over 1 year (2 semesters) at the UM School of Business!

Yes, we were/are told to beef-up on certain skills, skills that would bring us to middle management positions. So we did that. We are now more assertive, we lead projects and teams, we communicate better, we empower and engage others, our teams love to work with us, etc…. HOWEVER, those skills will get us and keep us at the middle management level, especially since the next upwards move requires a very different sets of skills and acumen. Do you know what they are?

Listen up, take notes and put your plan into action!

Educate, engage, empower, enrich.

Issues to ponder about U.S. emergency response in a small pox sentinel event [1/2]


(this post is as a response to the above mentioned article)

My area of expertise is NOT discussing the threat level colors with national security experts and advisors arguing about a possible impending terror plot using biological weapons. I leave that complicated and complex discussion and decision-making to those experts, and God be with them and us…

My area of expertise is program administration, infrastructure coordination and immediate implementation of emergency response policies such as putting the correct SOPs to work, dealing with and trying to protect the first responders, dealing with city & hospital command centers, dealing with local,  state and federal agencies, organizing teams and rolling out regional plans… and of course managing & administering it all in the most productive, cost effective, safe and human capital most efficient way.

Reading about the split view between the US and UK on the response to small pox threat, while out of my area of expertise, nonetheless all I see in this are the problematic areas of such sentinel event response starting with the politics of preventing public panic, not knowing the degree of events we would be dealing with as the latency of small pox is up to 3 weeks and they are highly infectious – and that’s just for starters!
In today’s globalized and inter-connected world we would be probably looking at pandemic situation where 2 million doses of US vaccines – even when and if administered at the most opportune time to the right people – would barely scratch the surface of such disaster.    …Would antivirals save lives? In time?
So yes, from the administrator point of view, a band-aid solution… and didn’t we learn, band-aid solutions cause more damage and are followed by increased public anger and outrage plus are usually way more costly in the end?

The political and societal fall out of such health security threat sentinel event would reach heights we have never seen before with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, instant messaging, YouTube, Pintrest etc… It would be up to the administrators and the politicians to calm and reassure the population that all the necessary steps are being taken… Are they? Would they?
Again, we are talking about small pox with 3 weeks prodromal stage, highly infectious spread and don’t forget – scary looking, as I can already see the horrible images floating on Instagram, YouTube and being posted on FB and the enormous public panic &  fear that would create as a result, because in today’s inter-connected and globalized world we all are much closer to one another, both literally and figuratively speaking.
(Highly developed, skilled and organized social crises media management during emergency response is and will be an indispensable and absolutely vital part of any emergency planning, preparedness and response).

So both countries better return to the point of origin and start thinking of the proper procedures, administration and coordination of such wide-spread effort with proper planning, training, established (and properly working and functioning!) channels of communications, assigned priorities, tasks, set ways of decision-making during such sentinel events – with proper management and foresight into what may come.
Without well prepared and well though-out massive plans of response, the division of views between the US and the UK on this issue will sadly be completely irrelevant.

Would you dare to make a political decision in emergency response to small pox, in such disaster scenario…? [2/2]

The U.S.may perhaps have vaccination and antivirals for the whole population, even though the storage and management of vaccination for millions of people must be quite an undertaking, nevertheless the utmost responsibility and primary role of the government is to protect its citizens and keep the people safe from enemies foreign, domestic, or in this case enemies of highly infectious nature and spread (yes, an infectious event most likely brought on by one or the other enemy mentioned above)

So to answer the above question if I dared to make a political decision for such program…? Yes! …but I am not a career politician…they make decisions differently – and for very obvious reasons.

Should that be a part of my job and a part of my professional expertise and my professional recommendation, should that be my decision-making responsibility – then yes, of course, I would make a decision and I would accept the responsibility.
In fact, that was exactly why I was “there” occupying that office and that position, to lead as leaders are sorely needed! So if in spite of knowing all about the small pox sentinel  event scenario had I accepted this (fictitious) appointment or a position then yes, it would be my decision, my recommendation and my responsibility for such scenario and for the people – whatever the decision may be, either do something or do nothing.

That’s my final answer, Alex (doesn’t that sounds familiar … ??)

While the crises analysis and projection of impact studies can be (and hopefully are) low on probability, and we all do hope so, it is still the responsibility of the government and its appropriate agencies to discuss, debate and plan for varied scenarios and call different “plays” all in order to prepare for such – even if – unthinkable event.

As I stated in my previous post, I am not an expert on the likelihood of small pox epidemic event or on the effectiveness or amount of US vaccines or antivirals, so I will not be delving into those issues.
However, what I am an expert on is emergency response, efficient administration, effective organization of people and key infrastructure – including the level of preparedness and skilfulness to deal with basic human behavior in crisis + panicked public (and they would be PANICKED, trust me!) and dealing with the complexities of emergency response management of such massive scale (I am still using the scenario of a sentinel event here).

Let’s be honest, when this hits, we will not have few days (or a week) of luxury to watch and wait “for the water to go down to save people from their rooftops”- aka Katrina emergency response. So while perhaps almost an unlikely event – great, we won! However, should any level of this event occur and we would not respond in the right, correct and specific way – we would be in deep Katrina waters, I mean in deep troubles.

Few years back I was a part of a sentinel event disaster and emergency response exercise in a regional hospital that had a central command center set up. We are talking seasoned medical and nursing professionals who make life-or-death decisions and see things every day the rest of the population doesn’t even know they exist, and yet the underlying panic, the hesitancy to give orders, the miss-communication, and the lack of feed-back to properly assess the ongoing developments – it was eye-opening for everybody. GOOD! That’s exactly why we have these exercises and preparation sessions – to learn!

So overall, it was a successful day even though the staff did not look like “success” at the end of the day. Again, these were highly motivated, educated, experienced professionals and senior staff members in an acute care setting, you would think they know what to do in an emergency as they deal with almost every possible scenario on daily basis…
But as I was told by one old and revered ER physician in the hallway: “You know young lady, there is an emergency, and then there is an Emergency”.