Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Glass Ceiling one of the Roadblocks in Digital Transformation?

Hammer (the brute force) only is not enough to break the glass ceiling, it takes wisdom to dig the root cause, and it takes creativity to melt it down.

Digital transformation is imminent, and digital competition is hyper-fierce. Which company will be successful in the future? What kind of leadership or management do they need? Which culture shall they build on? From a talent management perspective, how to unleash the potential of their talented employees? How does digital affect the leadership pipeline? And it also triggers the decades-long debate: How to break through the invisible glass ceilings in various forms?

It’s important to equip with a positive mind. First, the career ceiling in one form of the other is reflective of strong biases in individuals and groups and had been with us from time immemorial. Almost all (irrespective of gender, origin, beliefs, status, ethnicity, etc.) Secondly, the glass ceiling gets solidified more when you perceive it as a limit, and just grudgingly accept it and keep on justifying the failures and shortcoming on this unfortunate calamity. With this negative mindset, you make glass ceiling more self-inflicted and you become utterly helpless. Hence, it is important to equip with a positive mind to be courageous for the breakthrough; to be creative for alternatives, to be wise for digging to the root causes, not just fixing the symptom.    

Digital is the age of inclusiveness. At digital organizations, you will see inclusiveness because it directly matters with your long term vision, either for digitalization or globalization, it also impacts the corporate culture you intend to shape. To assess the “culture healthiness,” acknowledging whether or not you're in an organization that encourages the diversity of thoughts and healthy competition, or is fostering narrow-minded view or extremely negative competitiveness is a vital starting point. As a leader, you need to be more confident and conscious rather than threatened by growth minds or strong characters. Whereas glass ceiling can’t be uprooted overnight, we can always make a serious dent in it by accepting the reality of this phenomenon, by proactively acting to minimize the biases in individuals and in organizations by our own example, and by treating it as not an inflicted limitation, but, a challenge to inspire ourselves and others to make a positive change for its minimization.

The spirit comes from the top: For any organization to thrive, it must have a meaningful contribution from its people. There is no contribution without commitment, there is no commitment without involvement, and there is no involvement without feeling genuinely good. Once the leadership starts to understand this basic fact, its mindset changes from that of the limitation to the possibility, and it becomes ready to create or nurture an inclusive environment in which people will genuinely feel good, willingly get involved with commitment, and will demonstrate unimaginable contribution. And the leadership's responsibility is to not to use them as justifications of limitations but to create an environment where people truly want to get involved and engaged. The net result is that many of the complex issues (glass ceiling, favoritism, and exploitation) will look relatively small to tackle. Top management needs to be more approachable, more involved, more interested in its people and their work, more willing to create career paths, rather than shove people in boxes for the duration.

Many forward-thinking organizations are on the way for a radical digital shift, it is not just about adopting the advanced digital technologies or playing with the latest gadgets and tools; more importantly, it’s about how to shape the open-minded leadership team and build the culture of inclusiveness.


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