We want to hear from our members. Please share insights and experiences about your organization, credit union, and/or community. To submit a blog, simply log in and click on "Add New Blog Post". Remember to select the corresponding category to help members find entries that are most relevant to them.
I found this article particularly motivating and eye-opening as it conceptualizes leadership as something much more psychological and deep-rooted than it is usually discussed. It's not about "acting out" a leadership role but actually internally BEING the leader and knowing your worth. This sparked my memory from a developmental psychology course in college. In psychology, this could mean reaching the top of "Maslow's hierarchy of needs" – self-actualization.
The bottom of the pyramid is physiological needs, then safety, then love/belonging, then self-esteem, then self-actualization. The interpretation is that one cannot reach the top without successfully completeing each stage below. In this theory, self-esteem must come first.
I'm curious what others thoughts are on this excerpt, or if anyone else had a similar or different interpretation:
"As a person's leadership capabilities grow and opportunities to demonstrate them expand, high-profile, challenging assignments and other organizational endorsements become more likely. Such affirmation gives the person the fortitude to step outside a comfort zone and experiment with unfamiliar behaviors and new ways of exercising leadership. An absence of affirmation, however, diminishes self-confidence and discourages him or her from seeking developmental opportunities or experimenting. Leadership identity, which begins as a tentative, peripheral aspect of the self, eventually withers away, along with opportunities to grow through new assignments and real achievements. Over time, an aspiring leader acquires a reputation as having-or not having-high potential.
The story of an investment banker we'll call Amanda is illustrative. Amanda's career stalled when she was in her thirties. Her problem, she was told, was that she lacked "presence" with clients (who were mostly older men) and was not sufficiently outspoken in meetings. Her career prospects looked bleak. But both her reputation and her confidence grew when she was assigned to work with two clients whose CFOs happened to be women. These women appreciated Amanda's smarts and the skillful way she handled their needs and concerns. Each in her own way started taking the initiative to raise Amanda's profile. One demanded that she be present at all key meetings, and the other refused to speak to anyone but Amanda when she called-actions that enhanced Amanda's credibility within her firm. "In our industry," Amanda explains, "having the key client relationship is everything." Her peers and supervisors began to see her not just as a competent project manager but as a trusted client adviser-an important prerequisite for promotion. These relationships, both internal and external, gave Amanda the confidence boost she needed to generate ideas and express them forthrightly, whether to colleagues or to clients. Her supervisors happily concluded that Amanda had finally shed her "meek and mild-mannered" former self and "stepped up" to leadership.
Effective leaders develop a sense of purpose by pursuing goals that align with their personal values and advance the collective good. This allows them to look beyond the status quo to what is possible and gives them a compelling reason to take action despite personal fears and insecurities. Such leaders are seen as authentic and trustworthy because they are willing to take risks in the service of shared goals. By connecting others to a larger purpose, they inspire commitment, boost resolve, and help colleagues find deeper meaning in their work."
An interesting article that supports many of the studies being done out there about diversity within the workforce improving performance of businesses. Take a look.
Let me share this quote by Colin Powell " A dream doesn't become reality through magic; It takes sweat, determination and hard working" Sisters, Whatever situations we are going through in our CUs, let us remain focused to achieve our goals. Women are considered achievers because of hardworking spirit instilled in us. I am proud to say that in my country Malawi, the Board President for our National Association(MUSCCO) is a lady. "WOMEN CAN DO AND CAN DO IT BETTER!"
Sometimes it's hard to believe, but over time society has become a much less violent. In general, murder rates have gone down. One thing that has not changed in some places is the treatment of women. Unbelievably almost, child marriages still take place and bride burnings and acid attacks are nearly as common.
The myriad stories Sheryl WuDunn chronicles in her book, Half the Sky , co-written with her husband, fellow-Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, have helped her to appreciate what she has while still fighting for more for women around the world: More freedom, more healthcare, more food, more respect. Just more.
Following her address at the Global Women's Leadership Network during the World Council of Credit Unions ' Annual Meeting, I had the privilege of sitting down with Sheryl to discuss the book, American women's career advancement issues, life and, yes, credit unions."What I really liked was that the credit union was founded on the principal of microsavings," Sheryl explained about why she was attracted to speak to the credit union group. Half the Sky is fraught will stories of women who gain access to capital and enabled to build a better life for themselves and their families, overcoming conditions unimaginable in the U.S. Take for example, Goretti Nyabenda of Burundi in Africa, who disobeyed her drunken husband to form a CARE group, which brought women together to talk about their circumstances and pool their meager funds to take turns borrowing from the pool of funds. Additionally visiting nurses provide basic healthcare and HIV testing. Goretti bought fertilizer with the money she borrowed from her CARE group to improve her potato crop, which served her very well. She was able to expand her banana beer business and to buy a pregnant goat that brought her another goat a few weeks later and milk. At night the goats come into her family's home to sleep so no one will steal them. This is Goretti's success story.
The tale from halfway around the world certainly puts things into perspective for women in developed countries like the U.S. dealing with workplace challenges. Those are still very important and working women still deserve greater progress, but the story of Goretti and others in Half the Sky helps ground us. Microfinance in developing countries is also an area where WOCCU and credit unions can have a significant impact, and already are.
What Goretti learned and built herself with was a network. Female professionals must do the same. It's time to stop taking pity on Goretti, and take a lesson from her. Sheryl WuDunn emphasized this point with me during our conversation. "You need to be a part of a network and networks only work if there's trust among the network," she emphasized. Women who achieve success also need to realize that they have to help the women below them on the corporate ladder in order to stay on top.
It's a point the Sheryl Sandberg also made in Lean In. Some of the well-established female executive built their careers during a time when it was fashionable to have a token woman among the senior ranks-but only one. That led some to keep other women down.The modern female executive must keep in mind, as Sheryl WuDunn added, "You don't get to stay on the top if you don't build support from the bottom."
She continued, "Everybody's heard of the old boys' network and that was very effective...Women just want other things that they can talk about and build camaraderie around." It's human nature that people feel more comfortable around other people like them, but female managers must be careful to expand their networks beyond other women. Sheryl advised that networks should be co-ed because we can all learn a lot from each other.
By Sarah Snell Cooke
Publisher/editor-in-chief of CU Times
Servus Credit Union Women's Network recently held a viewing for it's members on the Jennifer Siebel Newsom documentary called "Miss Representation". We had a terrific turnout from our network members and started a great conversation around women's portrayal in the media. This has been the third time I've viewed this film, but it never gets old. The first time was at an International Womens Day event, the second I watched it at home with my family and most recently with our network.
I've had time to reflect on the message of the film and thought about how media impacts our roles within the business world. It would be easy to say that the lack of women in senior roles or leadership positions lays solely at the door of the media, but that would be blatantly false and unrealistic. Within the documentary the director contradicts herself by quoting Marian Wright Edelman "You can't be what you can't see". She then has Condaleeza Rice stating that all of the women pioneers, including Sally Ride - the first American woman in space - didn't have another woman to look up to. That they simply had a drive to do something they were passionate about. We need to stop waiting for other women to break down the barriers that we see or perceive are out there and start taking responsibility for what we see as failures within the corporate world.
While we may not be getting the help we need from the media in showing our young women and men what 'real women' look like or have the ability to be, we have to take responsibility for our own actions. Ultimately, it's my responsibility to show my daughter that her appearance - while important - isn't more important than her intellect, or her personality. Or that the women she watches on Jersey Shore are most definitely not to be emulated. I don't necessarily believe that not watching certain shows will wake up media into changing their programming. What this film does provide however, is an awareness. I feel having an awareness of what's being portrayed is almost more important. It allows us to have these conversations, to steer our children (both male and female) in the right direction and provide the guidance that we should be offering and not leave it up to the TV to do that. Perhaps, by building confidence and allowing them to see that women are just as powerful as men we'll start to see more women within leadership positions.
Anyway, that's enough proselytizing from me! Check out the film, it's a great conversation starter. You can purchase the DVD on Amazon for about $20.
Here is a recent article regarding the increase of focus on "feminine values".
Mobile remittances, referred to as the "next generation" of electronic payments via the mobile channel, have various benefits. For example, many people in rural areas do not have access to traditional financial services, but do own cell phones. Therefore, the latter part is absolutely ideal for mobile-banking outreach. So, World Council of Credit Unions "provided software and technical assistance to the Le Levier Federation of credit unions to launch 'Boom'--a mobile banking product. It is the first mobile product in Haiti to connect user transactions to credit union current accounts rather than use stored cellphone value. Offered by more than 60 credit union locations nationwide, Boom offers Haitians the ability to register, deposit and transfer funds to registered and unregistered users for free and to make low-cost cash withdrawals within seconds via their cellphones," (July 2013 news release). The following is a true story about Boom, and an invaluable example of the kind of personalization and close ties that credit unions have with their members.
One day at a Haitian credit union, a staff member named *Anne received a call that the internet was down at a neighboring credit union in Port-au-Prince-and they needed to perform a payout for a customer. Anne and *John, a World Council staff member, made a detour to resolve the problem. They arrived at the credit union, and John offered his personal laptop and satellite internet connection to perform the transaction. After a few failed attempts, they were unable to process the transaction. They then inquired with the customer and learned that he had received a text message about a company called "Boom."
Anne and John asked the customer if he had called Boom's customer service line to resolve the issue. He replied that he hadn't called because his phone had just ran out of minutes. John then happily introduced himself as a Boom representative informing the customer about the company and how mobile remittances work. The customer was pleasantly surprised, appreciative, and decided to register on the very same laptop. After the first few steps, the member's phone died before he was able to finish. Once again, John gave him his own phone to complete the registration process.
The member's withdrawal was finally completed. To finish the process, Anne and John took a screen shot of the member's receipt, saved it to a thumb drive, and transferred the data to the customer's account to print later for his own records. Before leaving, the customer turned to both of them and said, "Wait...it's as if you came just for me, right? I have been waiting here for 2 hours waiting for the internet to work to get my money, and then you show up from Boom!" Anne thanked him for his patience and made sure he felt settled with everything. He then went on to say, "I'm so excited to try this new service." The man was also happy to hear that he was now a member of the credit union. He explained that he had always thought about joining a credit union, but was hesitant and unsure. Now, he felt eager, comfortable, and excited to take advantage of the opportunity given to him through Boom. This was a genuine highlight for John to witness how the customer felt Boom made a personal visit, just for him.
So how does this short story relate to Global Women's Leadership Network? First, this is an undeniable example of a committed member-first attitude from a credit union leader. Moreover, take a look at what John wrote about how the General Manager inspired him as well as others:
"The General Manager, *Mary, of this credit union was and is an incredible natural female leader. In addition to being the General Manger, she sells Mary Kay and welcomes many of her members with a smile and a hug. It is truly ‘relationship banking' as we so often hear in the U.S. You immediately sense that certain intangible kindness and warmth in her when you meet her.
The reason all of this matters is because Mary is always the first to try new technological things and does so out of implicit trust in her credit union league because they have a long-standing relationship which has established that trust. It isn't about pricing negotiations, blaming others when things go wrong, or making sure she's in control--as some male leaders are prone to do--it's about trying new things and taking risks because she wants to improve her members' lives. There are bigger, more sophisticated credit unions in the federation--but if you want to try something new you go first to this credit union and talk with Mary."
Social Media Intern
World Council of Credit Unions
*=Names of people and institutions have been changed to maintain privacy.
"Haiti: World Council to Explore Mobile Utility Payment Solutions for Sustainable Electricity Program." World Council of Credit Unions. World Council, 11 July 2013. View for the full news release.
Wolf, Saul. Manager of Remittance Services, World Council of Credit Unions.
"Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership" By Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, Harvard Business Review (2007)
The full article from The Harvard Business Review can be viewed here: http://citt.hccfl.edu/Newsletters/NewsletterID1.pdf
Both of these women are writers, researchers, and professors of psychology. Studying the findings of these two women during my time at UW-Madison has compelled me enough to share this piece with you.
Starting out with jaw-dropping statistics that many of you may not already know, Eagly & Carli propose that the "glass ceiling" has shattered--but the challenges are far from over. They argue that it has shattered because there are some women who are now able to permeate through that glass--at a cost. They relate the current challenge of women leadership to pursuing a labyrinth, with "walls all around."
They state: "As a contemporary symbol, it conveys the idea of a complex journey toward a goal worth striving for. Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one's progres, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead" (pg. 2).
The richness of how Eagly and Carli convey the obstacles that make up the "labyrinth" of women's leadership is informative, and covers deep-rooted gender dynamics that many people haven't come to terms with yet. Most importantly, in my opinion, is the obstacle they describe called the "double bind," which is a term that describes the pulls and tugs on women to completely embody both communal "caring" leadership style, while also being agentic and sturdy. If a woman is to lean too far in one direction for a moment, the criticism will begin and the stereotypes start reinforcing themselves. Studies have investigated this phenomenon, about whether this "double bind" exists for men leaders, and results found overall that "men can communicate in a warm or dominant manner, with no penalty either way" (pg. 4).
Lastly, Eagly and Carli provide us with a list of valuable management interventions that can actually work in aiding other women's journey through the labyrinth. These interventions are essential, to say the least, and should be shared amongst women in management roles and beyond.
If you enjoyed reading this article, I would highly recommend their book: "Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders" (2007). One reviewer, Chris Nicholson, expressed Eagly & Carli's book eloquenty: "Too often the beliefs people espouse make gender inequalities seem natural by justifying 'accidents' of history that have assigned men and women uneven roles. 'Through the Labyrinth' (2007) is not one of those books." I couldn't agree more, Chris.
My questions for the Network:
- Have you tried to help implement these interventions that the authors provide us? Which do you see have the most potential, and why?
- Further, what do you think of the claim that the "glass ceiling" is no longer the most valuable way of describing the obstacles in women's leadership?
Intern, World Council of Credit Unions