29 Sep Solving the Politics Problem…Through INFLUENCE.
We’ve been chipping away at a particularly difficult dilemma for years, and now we think we have the answer!
Since the 2011 publication of our first book, Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking That Block Women’s Paths to Power, we’ve spoken to scores of women and men at conferences, we’ve led workshops and seminars, and we’ve coached hundreds of women who are on the path to becoming senior-level leaders. In that time, we’ve maintained a running list of the challenges that women face repeatedly.
The top barrier women mention to us in our everyday work: Maneuvering through office politics. Office politics presents a very big problem for women, and we’ve decided to do something about it—beginning with our new book: The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders.
As the basis of the book, we conducted original research to help us understand why women were so turned off by office politics and how we could help. We surveyed 134 senior executives in leading organizations, and the results revealed that women and men fundamentally disagree on the overall objective of politics. Women said they use the tools of politics to “manage relationships,” whereas men use them to “win.” Women were far more likely to mention “creating impact and ideas,” while men were more than twice as likely to describe “carving a one-time advantage.”
Neither approach is right or wrong, but the female paradigm may work against us unless we funnel it in the right direction. Political savvy is a skill we all need to use to break down barriers. Yet, we propose a different approach altogether to make that happen.
The premise of The Influence Effect is that we, as women, get much more from our everyday efforts when we focus on achieving influence as opposed to playing political games. We propose this new approach for several important reasons:
- Influence Suits Our Leadership Style. Women don’t need to act like men in order to succeed as leaders. Cultivating influence allows us to win at work while remaining true to our chosen leadership style and code of conduct.
- Influence Can Be Actively Cultivated. Focusing on achieving influence puts the power to act back into our own hands. It keeps us actively engaged and advancing toward our goals. Even better, influence can be learned, practiced, and perfected using the “Big Five” strategies we present in The Influence Effect.
- Influence is a Tool for the Times. In an age when collaboration wins over individual interest, influence suits our needs far better than political maneuvering. Influence creates deeper connections and better access points, and enables us to advance in our careers in new and better ways.
- Influence Creates a New Way to Work. Perhaps the most important reason we are making the case for influence as a tool for women is because it is a path to change and progress. In every industry, from private equity investing to network television, we (as women) are underrepresented at the top and paid less throughout our careers for the same work. We can cry foul about the data, and yet it is far more difficult to find a solution to this enduring gender divide. That’s why we’ve written The Influence Effect.
This book moves women past the politics problem and offers a new path to power. It’s more than a path—it’s a runway because it frees women to takeoff in their careers on their own terms. The Influence Effect will work for women, not because gender barriers will no longer exist, but because they will no longer hold us back.
The reality is that all leaders need to be “politically savvy.” Yet, the women in our study wanted a different tool to use. They viewed influence as positive and transparent—and a better way to achieve their goals as leaders.
We are redefining the rules here and we hope you will join us! To learn more about the book and our Big Five Strategies visit our book page; The Influence Effect.