Moving the Dial – What Does It Mean?

What does “moving the dial for women in leadership” mean—really?I get that question frequently. Sometimes it comes with a bit of attitude, followed by the assertion that “I don’t want to be a CEO.”So what does it mean to “move the dial for women in leadership”? Here are three stories to illustrate how I think about it—I’d love to hear your take, too.Yours for the takingStephanie has been cutting my hair for over 20 years, since she was barely 20 herself. She’s so good you have to make an appointment with her a month or more in advance, and (don’t tell my children), I time my trips to Arizona for when I can get on her schedule.Most of that two decades, Stephanie rented a chair at a salon. A few days before my last appointment, I received a text saying she’d moved to a new co-working salon space where each stylist has her or his own room and works autonomously. She texted me frequently to make sure I could find her new location and ask whether I wanted her to order a moisturizer I had always purchased at her old salon. When I arrived, she was waiting for me at the door, glowing with enthusiasm.I asked why she made the move. She said she believes the traditional salon model isn’t sustainable, but more importantly, she wanted a new challenge. “It was time to get outside of my comfort zone,” she said. As though she were channeling my Leadership Power Tools, Stephanie looked me squarely in the eyes and declared, “It’s all there for you if you can see the opportunity. What you want is yours for the taking.”That’s one woman moving the dial for herself. She is the CEO of her own life—aren’t we all?—and her small business. But most important, she’s moving the dial toward her passion and personal goal. And in doing so, she’s setting an example for other women.Women are fine; systems must changeAuthors make a mint writing books that tell women what is wrong with us. The truth is there is nothing wrong with women—the problem is that the organizations we work in were designed by men, for men, who had women at home doing the housework and raising the children. This is no longer functional and never was fair. Now most families need two breadwinners (or are headed by single parents) and women want the opportunity to succeed in their chosen fields. Women make up half the workplace today, even though they hold under 20% of top leadership positions across all sectors.Fortunately, new tools and processes are emerging to help accelerate change from the top down so women don’t have to do it all from the bottom up.Recently I learned about Edge, a global organization that uses metrics to evaluate and certify companies that foster equal opportunity for men and women in the workplace. They are moving the dial by making publicly visible a company’s gender diversity practices and rewarding those that move the dial most effectively.Their timing couldn’t be better. Now is our moment. For the first time, we have ample evidence that companies with women in leadership make more money. Political bodies with more women have better decision-making processes. We can make huge strides…if we take this opportunity to move the dial.Moving the dial at home, tooAs Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook explains, “[Real] equality in the workplace and the home will make all of us better off. When we use the full talents of the population, our countries and companies are more productive. When men are 50/50 partners at home, marriages are stronger. When men are active fathers, their children are healthier, happier, and more successful. To reach leadership parity, we need to encourage women and men to work together towards equality.”One year ago Sandberg mesmerized 3,000 people at Gammage Auditorium in Arizona and half a million watching on livestream in 48 countries when she keynoted the Take The Lead Challenge Launch event. When asked what men can do to help advance women to parity, she replied, “The laundry.”How we move the dialHere are a few comments from people who have taken our courses or attended our events:

  • A young woman asked for and got $10,000 more than was originally offered for the job.
  • A financial industry executive used our Leadership Power Tools to make a one-year plan to become vice president of her firm—and succeeded.
  • A statewide elected official said shifting how she thinks about power has enabled her to be more effective as a policymaker.
  • A woman announced she is running for mayor.
  • A professor said she’s going to put herself forward for an open deanship.
  • A new mother enlisted other women to persuade her company to implement a flexible time policy for everyone.
  • An entrepreneur who assumed that as the younger member of a partnership she would own a minority share of the company negotiated to become an equal partner.

Cumulatively, leadership actions like this move the dial for all women.I’m proud of how far Take The Lead has come in its first year. We’re making a real difference in women’s lives. Thank you for your support. Together we can keep moving that dial and reach our goal of leadership parity by 2025.That’s #25not95.Remember, it’s yours for the taking.