What Keeps High-Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: VII. Results: Themes Four and Five
In particular, they learned what kind of managers they liked working for. If they received little support for their progressive ideas (or their bosses took credit for their ideas or work), told to “tone down” their energy or felt held back in any way, they would either leave the company or department or create a new position for themselves.
On the other hand, a supportive, hands-off manager who gave them lots of opportunities and new projects earned their respect and loyalty. A “high-achiever friendly” working environment is critical to keeping these women long enough to see them rise into leadership positions.
Most of the women experience some disillusionment about work early in their careers. They marched in with high hopes of using their “specialness” to create great things. They are ready to do what it takes to succeed but have been held back for various reasons.
Sample interview responses:
(JE) “I don’t deserve recognition; I earn it. On the other hand, there is this ongoing sense that I am always underutilized and underappreciated.”
(AW) “I set up their operations department, I set up their compliance department, I set up their security department, I set up their records retention. I ran the branches. We did a computer conversion during my time there. It was a fun, exciting time. It was also the first experience I had with falling out of grace with the powers that be. To this very day I really don’t know what specific thing I did… I cannot for the life of me go back on my performance and see the problem other than the fact that I challenged them when they wanted to do things like bury the computer monitors under the teller’s desk because they aren’t pretty. I’d gotten raises every year, I’d gotten promotions every year, I had a staff. I believe it was a personality issue… Now I’m more careful to watch out for that.”