Lean-in – Will that help women be strategic in their roles?

Lean-in – Will that help women be strategic in their roles?

Will leaning in at the decision table help women be more strategic in their roles? In other words, we can lean in – yet will that solve our problem sitting at the decision table? I think not or at least not quite as simply put. We need to look at the roles of both genders in the workplace today as well as the multiple generations that occupy these roles.

Why do I think that?

Let’s look at what we know today…

We have had a calling most recently due to catastrophic change in our economy that has brought the ever-brewing separation of those who are well off, the middle-class and the increased poor and poverty-laden citizens living in this country as part of the great divide. (And the immigrants who want to be here)

The civil rights of all citizens continually erode by anyone who can take a crack at them. We have public service people and politicians who are making future generational decisions and changes, yet appear concerned with their own current jobs and election to office rather than abiding by the will of the people who voted to represent them.

You might ask what does this have to do with leaning in at the decision table. Yes, the criticism is high if you support a certain gender, if you support a certain cultural belief that is a needed part of a change required to make this country strong again. We talk about the civil rights movement and it is critical, the movement focused in the early years with the horrific treatment of the African Americans. The women’s movement learned very much from the Civil Rights leaders of the day, yes and what none of us in America has learned is to ‘love our neighbor’ even if they are different from us, regardless of gender, race, culture, and our socio-economic status as a start.

Moreover, there is little discussion about the Native Americans who get little mention yet it would appear that they need America’s assistance?

The world has changed immensely, our culture and race has changed, – and yet clinging to the old ways that seemingly do not work is especially true from those who are in power positions.

Instead, what we get is the great divide and the ‘nasty’ hate filled rhetoric from ‘the other side’ managing the status quo rather than to support and embrace the future and the inevitable change.

THINK…“Please people now…smile on your brother, try to love one another”…. Let people live and fulfill their dreams, set the discipline required to grow, yet with enough tether strength to hold back self-destruction in making bad decisions. (Hubris)

How does this unwillingness to change effect women in the workplace? If the diversity of America’s people has changed…then one would believe the roles of women would change, not only here in the U.S. yet worldwide change to reflect our ever-changing role and pushing our lives to the edges within our society.

Evolution is slow in this area and promoting women to strategic roles in organizations limits their ability to lean-in. Over the past several years during the great recession, (2007-2011) + musical chairs of employees roles occurred in all the workplace. Companies jettison off the bow those employees, middle managers, and any of the ‘A, B, C’ players that could be without work.

In the message of lean in, it takes both genders in the workplace; it takes every race and every cultural background to be at a decision table. We are just making the comeback, slowly.

There is a theory that men are strategic and women are tactical. Well, let us just blow that theory out of the water…maybe it is the other way around? Men are tactical and women are strategic.

When we look at corporate American, we look at the jobs men hold; they seem to be part of the executives in the C-suite and in the Line of Business (LoB) roles.

What roles are men playing in these LoB and C-suite positions? Are the roles merging in terms of strategy and tactics? Those business units are in Operations, Manufacturing, Finance, Marketing/Strategy (Technical), Global Sales, Human Resources (HR), Technical (Engineering) and Customer Services to name a few.

In addition, the alphabet soup in the executive ‘C-Suite’, CEO, CFO, CMO, CSO, CIO, COO, CTO, CLO, and CKO.

What jobs are women holding in the executive C-suite?

Yes, few are CEOs, few are CFOs, few are CIOs, CTOs, fewer are CLOs, CKOs, yet the roles that are held are many in a Line of Business function within HR. What do we think about HR, is it strategic? Is it tactical?

During the last several years in the aftermath of the recession, HR recently may be taking a hit on the chin when it comes to their recruiting methods. HR is in a blocking and tackling mode and is far from being strategic in the economical bear market where there is a focus on maintaining the systems infrastructure.

In an economical bull market when the stocks are up and investment can be made in the talent pool, the organizational functions are strategic in growth areas, and are tactical in recruiting within business units.

So where do women and men stack up in these roles? As a learning organization, the opportunity to be strategic would be in the upswing in the bull market and to set up the workforce to withstand the next business cycle.

Therefore, when I see women thought of as in a non-strategic role, I truly would need to see the roles in an organization that they play to determine if they can ‘lean-in’ at the table.

Each gender has their strengths whether to be analytical, strategic, tactical, a continuous learner, a commander, a futurist, a problem solver, a technology guru, a relationship builder, a great motivator and yes the ability to transfer knowledge and manage the keen ability to explain, learn, and continue to grow direct reports.

Truly, the only barriers are the society viewpoints, which limit the success of either gender. Women are strategic as men are – yes and the true indicator is the role they play in an organization. Women are part of the change mechanism as learned from the civil rights movement and the women’s movement beginning in the 60’s.

The new future is here for us to claim the strategic roles within organizations today so we can be part of the lean-in decisions made at the table. Yes, women need to communicate their desire and men will support them. Lastly, women need to support women.

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.