What Is This Brou-ha-ha About “Having It All”?

men, women, having it allWe’ve certainly talked about work/life balance recently and women’s leadership but the latest brou-ha-ha erupted in The Atlantic in a post written by Anne-Marie Slaughter. She really touched a nerve when she described her dilemma between her high-level position and her family. Now there are posts written on Forbes and on Harvard Business Review among many others. One particularly interesting post was written by Dorothy Dalton.

Under all of this are deeper issues

Gender roles have been changing for many decades at this point. This is not unique to the US. But sociological constructs persist. Often certain jobs or even industries are relegated as “men’s work” or “women’s work.” Stop for a moment and consider your impression of a woman working in the construction industry in a non-clerical role or a man working as a nurse. Maybe it isn’t something that seems wrong or out of order to you but how do people in general perceive these roles? This is where the deeper issues lie.

Who said women had to be caregivers 100% of the time?

Many of the roles that are assigned to particular genders stems from another time in history. In our own time, now in 2012, there is much more mobility and possibility for both men and women. There is no monopoly on which gender is the most compassionate or nurturing.

However, there is one more variable that must be factored in. There are ongoing serious economic uncertainties for many countries. For many men and women, work is not a choice but a necessity. “Having it all” isn’t a choice; it’s a just a day-to-day experience. If you have to work, how do you manage your values, priorities and financial obligations?

If we have to do this day and and day out, what has to give?

At the end of the day, this issue is not about Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Christine Legarde or Angela Merkel and how they manage their careers and a personal lives.  It’s not even about the “nanny-people” and what really makes a good parent or a good worker. We all have talents that are not gender-specific. It’s just as likely that a man has talent as a nurturer and parent as it is that a woman has talent for organizing and managing the operations of a multi-national corporation. It’s really about everyday men and women who want choice about how they create fulfilling lives.

So what is this brou-ha-ha about “having it all?”

Please join us on Friday, June 29, 2012 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz to discuss this topic. The chat begins on 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT and we want you to add your insight and expertise to the conversation.

Discussion questions:

How is the concept of “having it all” affecting the workplace?

Why does “having it all” persist as a women’s issue rather than a human/talent/leadership issue?

Is “having it all” simply a class issue? Why/why not?

How do we move this conversation beyond gender roles and expectations in the business environment?



Introversion, Extraversion and Our Ideas About Leadership

There is a great tension in leadership about what makes a leader most effective. Often the most vocal person gets labeled as leadership material. And yet, other skills are being demanded of leaders in large, medium and small organizations.

But we need definitions first

Here is a typical but not exhaustive overview of each style.


  • Tends to think a lot; processing in their heads and hearts privately.
  • Finds small talk difficult as they would rather have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone
  • Finds being alone a great source of energy; solitude is bliss
  • Reserved
  • Quiet
  • May be adept at socializing and enjoy being with people but returns home feeling tired and drained


  • Tends to think out loud
  • Often described as outgoing and gregarious
  • Gains energy from being with people;
  •  Finds being alone a source of stress
  • Tends to be more interested in what is going on around them
  • Takes action, often without reflecting on their choices first

All of us have introverted and extraverted aspects to our personalities. Carl Jung is to have said that a pure introvert or extravert would be insane. However, we have preferred tendencies in our personalities. If you are curious about where you might fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, try this survey

Has the emphasis on the vocal, charismatic and dominant leader run its course?

Maybe but don’t hold your breath. There have been recent discussion about how leaders should be better at listening, empathy, mentoring and using a more collaborative approach with their teams. In the post from Harvard Business Review, “Leadership Is A Conversation“, Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind state that leadership is conversational. This would seem to fit a more introverted person to excel as a leader. And yet, surveys tell us that senior level managers favor the extraverted candidate over the introverted one. So this construct perpetuates that a leader must be super-confident, aggressive, loud and action-oriented to be truly a leader.

On the ground, introverts are not promoted but research says…

In a 2010 Wharton School study authored by Adam Grant and his team, he noted that vocal, dominant action-taker may inadvertently inhibit his/her team by expressing enthusiasm or shutting down independent (and possibly innovative) initiatives by employees due to feeling threatened. Introverts, on the other hand, may produce better results by listening through to the end of an idea, reflecting on possible options and outcomes and creating space for employees to be proactive in their jobs.Grant also points out in is research that introverts are persistent and careful risk takers.

Even if the numbers don’t lie, we have cherished ideas about leadership

Maybe it does boil down to who talks a good game and who’s got good game. The extraverted leader may be visible and seen as getting things done. On the other hand, the introverted leader may be grooming people to be more confident, capable and engaged in their work. It may be less flashy but positive results are produced. Then there is the fly in the ointment…what if good leadership isn’t about whether someone is an introvert or extrovert?

Please join us on Twitter for this discussion on #KaizenBiz, Friday, June 22, 2012 at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT. We’ll use these questions:

What ideas of leadership are currently encouraged?

How would you describe leadership in the current day-to-day business environment?

Where do you believe you fall on the extraversion-introversion spectrum?

As you think of managers you’ve worked for, describe how their traits seemed to support their success?

What underlying skills must any leader have regardless of where they land on the extraversion-introversion spectrum?

What would happen if we limited group work and allowed solitude?


Transcript June 15, 2012 KaizenBiz Chat with Judy Gombita

Below is the transcript from the June 15th, 2012 #KaizenBiz chat on Twitter. Our host is @3KeysCoach, this week’s guest was @JGombita and the topic was: Working Towards Incremental Respect For PR. this week, due to a glitch in our regular transcript program, we used Storify.com to create the transcript. The first link is to the framing post for the chat, then the rest of the chat is in reverse chronological order, so you will have to scroll/click to the end to see the start of the chat and read back to follow the chat questions. Sorry folks, the only one I could make work was the slideshow version. Bear with our technology issues this week.

Try this slideshow version of the transcript


Working Towards Incremental Respect For PR

Judy Gombita and incremental respect for PRThis post is by guest blogger, Judy Gombita, co-editor of PR Conversations and a senior/hybrid public relations,communication management and social media specialist. Please join us to explore “Towards Incremental Respect” on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, June 15, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT.

The art (and science) of communication

Back in the 1980s, high-school English teacher, Mrs. Fielding, drew a memorable analogy about two iconic Canadian literary figures: established author Margaret Lawrence and the emerging Margaret Atwood. Both were equally important, but for very different literary styles and impact.

Margaret Lawrence

Margaret Lawrence was the consummate water colour artist (think of Impressionists) who slowly, deliberately and wondrously created a canvas and characters with little dabs of subtle colours and shadings, filling in all aspects of her creations with scenarios and people—not always immediately recognised or understood. Mrs. Fielding declared Lawrence’s novels should be revisited every 10 years as we’d react differently to characters and circumstances, depending upon our current age and experiences; appreciation would be enhanced with long-term study and reflection.

Another pertinent point: Lawrence’s fictional Manitoba town and its inhabitants make an appearance in all of her novels, so her entire output should be read for maximum impact.

Margaret Atwood

Literary critic, poet and novelist Margaret Atwood is a different kettle of creator. Think radical and modern artist, favouring vivid oil paint squiggles and slashes, interspersed with pools of blacks and browns. Although strokes are bigger and bolder (maybe the metaphorical canvas is larger in size), her focus is limited to a few main characters, rather than an entire town, per Lawrence. Atwood’s writing tends to have an immediate and forceful impact.

Atwood pushes boundaries, raising the literary bar and inventing new tropes. Topics such as dystopia capture attention and challenge. She’s an artist that’s hard to ignore with her compelling worlds we often marvel at and admire.

The connection to PR

So what do the Margarets have to do with an incremental respect for a company’s public relations function?

I propose Margaret Lawrence’s style is akin to corporate PR, whereas “sister” Margaret Atwood aligns with the marketing discipline. Lawrence remains important but is less recognised and possibly stereotyped as old-fashioned and dull—not all appreciate her subtlety woven tales, especially in a fast-paced world of shock and awe.

Atwood’s style and reputation is recognised and lauded…similar to marketing’s goals and objectives, particularly in B2C companies who entice customers with exciting, often bold, branding and ad campaigns.

Like a Lawrence novel, PR involves a wider cast of stakeholders (unlike marketing’s consumer focus) and many important connections are one-to-one over aggregate (unlike market research). Think of the important internal public, as an example: employees.

When a company is under the microscope (especially during a crisis), relationships promoted by public relations receive scrutiny for honesty and if they are in the “public” not just corporate interest. Think about the BP oil spill and the company’s relationship with workers, media, communities it impacted, US government environmental regulators, etc.

The three pillars of focus

My writing focuses on the strategic—the “why?” and “what”—involved in reputation and issues management for public relations, with fairly universal application. I’ve adopted the tweetable Terry Flynn shorthand for a three-pillar definition:

  • reputation
  • value
  • relationship building

During #KaizenBiz I’d like to focus on reputation, value and relationship building rather than stereotypes and turf wars re: tactics and ownership (e.g., “spin,” “black hats,” PR standing for Press Release and/or limited to marketing PR). Let’s also avoid the idea that PR is solely determined by “third-party” validation/earned media, whether traditional or social media properties and scribes.

Colleague Sean Williams declares, “All marketing is communication, but not all communication is marketing.” For 60 minutes, let’s tease out an understanding of effective non-marketing communication and connections to incrementally improve a company’s reputation, value and relationship building.

Great public relations

The PR Conversations’ PRoust Questionnaire asks, “Who do you think has great public relations?” Italian PR guru Toni Muzi Falconi:

“In most cases successful organisations do not have overt public visibility. Or, when they do have a high profile, they don’t betray their anxiousness or obsessive need to be liked.”

If you accept Toni’s answer, the way to achieve effective public relations may lie in trying not to have a high organisational profile, at least from a negative POV—not to be confused with accessibility and/or frequent and honest communications to stakeholders (with needs or interests).

And, like a Margaret Lawrence novel, consider how various stakeholders can shade and subtly influence an “organisational narrative.”


  1. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest positive impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  2. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest negative impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  3. What incremental PR best practices would help to increase the positive and decrease the negative impact on reputation?
  4. From your perspective, name a stakeholder group and indicate what is valued in companies from a (non-product or service) PR point of view?
  5. How can an organisation subtly communicate or weave these value propositions into its narrative?
  6. Think outside the traditional relationship-building box: with which groups could or should an organisation pursue a relationship?

About the author: Judy Gombita has more than 20 years of communication management and public relations experience, primarily in the not-for-profit and educations sectors. Now a hybrid public relations and social media practitioner, she is currently the co-editor of the highly respected international group blog,  PR Conversations and has been the Canadian contributor since the blog was launched in 2007. PR Conversations was named a Cision Top 50 blog. You can also find Ms. Gombita’s primary blog appearing in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog Blogs (also since 2008) and it is frequently included in ComPRO.biz’s Top Blogs. She also writes a monthly Bytes from the PR Sphere column on Windmill Networking (about the intersection of public relations and social media).

If the above #kaizenbiz chat topic interests you, Judy recommends you read her organizational narrative post and her co-editor, Heather Yaxley‘s companion digital/social media version one. Recommended reading from Windmill Networking includes her introductory post, Connections Byte, Profile Byte, Employee Byte, Culture Byte, Social Capital Byte and Crisis Byte.


Reverse Mentoring-The Gift of Junior Staff

Karima-Goundiam and reverse mentoringThis post is by guest blogger, Karima-Catherine Goundiam, manager, Social Media and Online Communities | Online Marketing Please at Deloitte Canada. Please join us to explore Reverse Mentoring with Karima-Catherine Goundiam this Friday, June 8, at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

I am very honoured and excited to be a guest on #KaizenBiz this coming Friday. I have been part of the chat for a few years and I am happy I can contribute to this amazing community of professionals now.  When I suggested to Elli the topic of “reverse mentoring”, she bought in right away and thought it was both intriguing and interesting to explore it on the #KaizenBiz chat.

What is Reverse Mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is a term that I came across while working at Deloitte as a digital and social media manager.  The term reverse mentoring essentially means the opposite of traditional mentoring, because the relationship is reversed.  In the context of digital, reverse mentoring is when a senior employee enlists the insight and knowledge of a more junior employee – where age is not part of the criteria.

Sometimes organic, sometimes formalized

The relationship between the mentor and mentee can develop as an organic relationship where the senior leader recognizes that his/her junior is a step ahead in a specific area. In other case, more often, reverse mentoring will be part of a formalized program.  I will address the value and some of the challenges of one or the other type of relationship at #KaizenBiz.

 Flattens the organization and foster collaboration and innovation

As an organization, encouraging any type of reverse mentoring can be one of the best ways to flatten the organization and foster an environment of collaboration and innovation.  In particular, digital reverse mentoring is essential for a company to grow beyond its current corporate online persona and reach its full potential through the adoption of digital and social media. It creates the perfect opportunity for senior leaders to gain insights into new areas such as social media, interactive marketing, and virtual communities and understand how it ties to business objectives.

Benefits of the reverse mentoring relationship

The pairing of senior leaders with more junior employees is beneficial for both parties; giving both the mentor and the mentee a sense of purpose and a mutual benefit.   While reverse mentoring will also focus on the tools, the most valuable information will come from the importance of building business relationships online.  The digital mentor will accompany his/her mentee through the many necessary phases of digital media adoption that the individual needs.

 Does the reversal of mentor/mentee create obstacles?

Mentoring does however have its challenges. Reverse mentoring, in particular, has greater challenges due to the fact that the typical relationship is reversed with age and position level. The junior staff will be exposing the experienced senior leaders to new areas – especially areas that are still trying to make headway within organizations. I will discuss challenges and ways I have been able to go around them at #KaizenBiz.

 Join us to learn more…

Throughout my career, I have mentored a fair number of senior leaders; some of them employees of Deloitte.  At #KaizenBiz, on Friday, I will have the opportunity to discuss some of the characteristics that foster a successful reverse mentoring relationship and more. I am looking forward to your questions.

What usually begins a reverse mentoring relationship?

Is there a particular age spread that is most ideal for the junior staff person and the senior leader? Why/why not?

What characteristics of the junior staff person make  him/her ideal as a mentor?

Is reverse mentoring really about the senior leaders engaging with social media, interactive marketing, and virtual communities more successfully? Why/Why not?

How are the potential obstacles that could derail a reverse mentoring relationship managed?

How is the organization affected when reverse mentoring is a formalized program?

How would you describe the future of reverse mentoring?

About the author:  Karima-Catherine joined Deloitte’s online team in July 2011 as Social media and online communities manager within the Brand team. She heads up the social media efforts for Deloitte Canada and is responsible for internal and external adoption of social media strategy.