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Will the Pandemic Reshape Notions of Female Leadership?

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, this week’s round-up focuses on female leadership. I have included a variety of excellent reading and listening content, encompassing a range of perspectives on a diverse set of topics. In particular, I would like to call out the first article Research: Men Get More Actionable Feedback Than Women as a must read for both women and men, especially men looking to be a more effective ally to women at work.

As I reflected on this piece, I kept coming back to a simple, yet powerful insight that a former manager (and now great friend and mentor) often stated: “Feedback is a gift. You can choose to receive it or not.” His perspective on my strengths as well as my developmental opportunities truly felt like gifts. They were specific, contextualized and actionable, both what I was doing well and where I could challenge myself to leverage my strengths and capabilities to show up in new and different ways. Sometimes tough and sometimes not the easiest to hear, I nonetheless always felt like he had only the best intent for my career growth.

For many, and especially professional women, these gifts are non-existent, in too short of supply or are skewed too heavily to what we are not doing, should be doing, etc. Often vague, without context and largely inactionable, the “gift” is opaque and of not much use. Leveraging their research findings, the authors offer new frameworks and approaches for conceptualizing and delivering developmental perspectives that benefit both women and men. I will also make a quick plug for Brit Bennett’s latest book, all of the TED Talks and both pieces in the Arts section (very humorous and timely!).

As always, happy reading and listening!


Research: Men Get More Actionable Feedback Than Women.Developmental feedback (provided either informally or via official management processes) is a significant yet often-overlooked driver of professional growth…Our research demonstrates how differences in developmental feedback can direct women along different — and less effective — leadership pathways than men, creating long-lasting gender inequities.”

PwC’s Women in Work Index 2021: The impact of COVID-19 on women in work. “Immediate action is needed to undo the damage from COVID-19 to women’s economic empowerment. Policy responses to support the economic recovery need to specifically address the impacts of the pandemic on women. Governments and businesses must work together to address the underlying gender inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, close existing gender pay gaps, support female progression and leadership in the workplace, and fund employment and business opportunities for women in future growth sectors of the economy.”

I’m not your girl boss. I’m your boss. “Annie Liao Jones of Rock Candy Media says she’s sick of being pigeonholed as a ‘female CEO.’ Here’s why.”

Will the Pandemic Reshape Notions of Female Leadership? “In short, tales of strong female leaders succeeding through this crisis could lead to a change in the overarching narrative of what a strong leader looks like. Though only time will tell if this new narrative survives the crisis, it would not just elevate the overall quality of our leaders — it would likely increase our trust in the result of our choices.”

7 successful women on the “mistakes” that changed their careers. “Seven leaders, from Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani to fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, discuss the importance of taking risks.”

Why Don’t Women Self-Promote As Much As Men? “…There’s a substantial gender gap in self-promotion: women systematically provide less favorable assessments of their own past performance and potential future ability than equally performing men. The researchers’ various study versions revealed that this gender gap was not driven by confidence or by strategic incentives, and that it was robust both in the face of ambiguity and under increased transparency.”

Praxis Labs To Help Bring Forth More Conscious Leaders Using Virtual Reality. “Elise Smith, Cofounder and CEO of Praxis Labs, is bringing that opportunity to corporate America, allowing employees and leaders to change their perspectives over time by virtually stepping into the shoes of those feeling the sting of stigma.”


The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett) “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.”


TEDWomen 2020: 6 Essential Lessons For Women Leaders. “In a rich conversation full of practical insights, former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard and former Finance Minister of Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reflect on their experiences as women leaders in positions of global power — and share six standout lessons on what it takes to lead and build solidarity in the face of gender bias and stereotypes.”

TEDWomen 2018: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself About Everything You Do. “How you respond to setbacks is what defines your character, says Stacey Abrams, the first Black woman in the history of the United States to be nominated by a major party for governor. In an electrifying talk, she shares the lessons she learned from her campaign for governor of Georgia — and some advice on how to change the world.”

TED Talks India: 7 Beliefs That Can Silence Women and How to Unlearn Them. “In India (and many other countries), girls and women still find themselves silenced by traditional rules of politeness and restraint, says social scientist Deepa Narayan. In this frank talk, she identifies seven deeply entrenched norms that reinforce inequality — and calls on men to help usher in change.”

Blog Post

Seth’s Blog: The Unheard Voices. “We hear what we focus on, and what we hear changes how we experience the world.”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

Advice My Parents Gave Me Versus Advice I Will Give My Kids. “Marry someone from a good family? Or from a good tech startup?”

I’m a Short Afternoon Walk and You’re Putting Way Too Much Pressure On Me. “Hey, it’s me: Short Afternoon Walk. As you may have noticed, you’re all turning to me an awful lot these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we have together, but I think we need to face the truth: I can never be everything you want me to be.”


“You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.” – Jeannette Rankin “Living things tend to change unrecognizably as they grow. Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? Flora or fauna, we are all shapeshifters and magical reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.” – Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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