A little about Mary T. O'Sullivan: Before she wrote her book, The Leader You Don't Want To Be, Mary was a successful leader in her own right. With over 30 years of experience in industry as well as in business functions such as business development and subcontract management, she's been a change agent - moving teams and individuals from status quo to higher levels of positive behavior change.
Yes, that's a mouthful, but it has to be said. Mary didn't write this book because of one bad boss. She wrote the book to impress upon leaders today, and those who would be leaders, that the command and control method is over. Today, you need to be "transformative and visionary." If you need help, get the book. If you know someone else who could use that training, get the book. Just get the book. Call it a business expense. Because it is.
Did I mention it comes with a Field Guide? Oh yeah. Mary doesn't fool around. She realized after writing the book, and more on that a bit later, that having a workbook or Field Guide would be useful both to her planned workshops and webinars, and also to those who want to learn the lessons in the book on a self-starter basis. The Field Guide is a great resource for planning out your own path to leadership - in the current business you work, or in a business of your own.
But mostly, this conversation focuses on how behavior is a mitigating factor in all leadership roles. Behavior that seems to go bad as soon as some people, some leaders, get to the office. I love Mary's comeback to bad behavior, "Would you do that in your living room, in front of your children?" Or your wife? Or your significant other? The thing is - leaders can become bullies or worse, without even realizing it. What's an employee to do?
Chapter Two of her book: The Paradox of Women in Leadership is a prime example of how one gender, women, are sometimes responsible for their own failure to get into that leadership role they want. It isn't news that women tend to think they have to 'do it all' - which means seldom, if ever, asking for help. We may have bought into Helen Reddy's 1972 song a little too deeply:
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman...
Yes, we can do anything, but seldom can we do it alone. No matter how we were taught to take charge, to do it yourself, that it's not too much for you, you can do it, Mary cautions and advises women: learn to delegate! Give some of the work to a team member, or a colleague you know will get it done. If you're working 12 hours days and still going home to cook and clean, get that crockpot out! Make life easier by looking for the right tools and the right people to help. It's not weakness to ask for help, it's a leadership strength! Think of it this way - delegating is just sharing your authority. And, giving other employees responsibilities that can enhance their roles in the office, also. (never forget that all of this will serve you well if you decide, at some point, and so many women do decide, to become an entrepreneur!)
You will especially want to watch the section on networking. And golf. And women's reluctance to network with men - yet, more men are in leadership roles, and that's a hard fact. It's in the news routinely. So, why? What are women doing wrong that keeps them out of the corner office?
The answer is: women don't mingle. Women must learn to attend events without fear of being ignored. Don't stand in the corner! Understand what you have to give to the group, don't be thinking about what you'll take away.
And, a favorite part of this conversation for me is Mary's advice to tap into your personal network - this involves a funeral. Maybe your funeral. You'll want to learn what that means for sure!
And we conclude our discussion with a little bit about how the process of writing a book and a little about how hard it is to write a book. As Mary's book coach, I can tell you she was a stellar student. We took dozens of pieces of content she already had around, and turned them into The Leader You Don't Want To Be - through many months of revision and attention to detail. And stories. Always stories. You know how important stories at to me, each and every day. Well, Mary could tell you stories that would make your hair curl - or straighten it out, if it's already curly. Watch and learn.
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