by: Sara Hinkle, Jennifer R. Keup, & Jodi Koslow Martin
As we have referenced before, this blog is the descendant of an ongoing Women’s Leadership Book Club in which most of the regular #SAFeminist contributors engage. Our most recent book selection literally started with the daunting questions “When did you make a mistake in your career and what did you learn from it?” The rest of the book, aptly titled Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, is dedicated to sharing the stories told in response to that question for a number of female leaders from a wide range of professions, including Kim Gordon (bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth), Ruth Reichl (La Times and New York Times food critic, author, and editor of Gourmet magazine), Carol S. Dweck (Stanford psychology professor and motivation researcher), and Dr. Cori Lathan (Founder and CEO of the engineering research and design firm, AnthroTronix).
Reading the very real, sometimes embarrassing, occasionally painful stories was a fascinating and enlightening experience. Especially because it was such a raw insight into the taboo topic of women making mistakes, for which we rarely allow or forgive ourselves due to stringent and typically unrealistic expectations of women that are often self-inflicted but socially endorsed. Continue reading Making it Right After Getting it “Wrong”
by Jennifer R. Keup
OK, confession time: I have become highly suspicious of the use of the term “empathy” in the workplace, especially with respect to leadership.
I realize that this statement is likely to be interpreted as heretical in the highly emotionally-intelligent, person-centered, post-modern world of student affairs practice and leadership. So, let me clarify that I am actually a kind-hearted, sensitive person who values plurality. I cried during the death scenes in the movie Titanic, have been known to get emotional during commercials featuring babies and families, and maintain many longstanding personal and professional relationships. I value diversity, seek opportunities for international exposure and awareness, and actively integrate intercultural perspectives into my life and the lives of my children. I am a good “read” of people, am often the person to whom friends and colleagues confide, and regularly feel my heartstrings pulled by the trials, tribulations, and accomplishments of others. In other words, I believe that empathy is a real and important trait and that it is present in my own innate personality, although I will admit that I have never participated in any formalized training that would allow me to cite a specific measure of the depth or degree of this aspect of my psyche.
My trepidation has more to do with the way that “empathy” is cited and, I would argue, largely misused in the modern workplace. Empathy is “the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experiences of others” (Gentry, Weber, & Sadri, 2007, p. 4). It is the ability to see and understand the worldview of others and “share their perspective” (Gallup, 2014, para. 1). It requires trust, the ability to read subtext and nonverbal cues, strong listening skills, and a healthy balance between compassion and cognition. Several studies of professional performance and leadership in higher education and the corporate world provide evidence that empathy is an important professional quality. This body of research shows that empathy is a critical component of successful management, is related to employee satisfaction and productivity, and is becoming an ever more important leadership quality in a pluralistic and global society. Continue reading Empathy in the Workplace: Fact or Crap
by Jennifer R. Keup
As many of you know, this blog was born out of a women’s leadership book club. Over the past two years, we have read a number of titles and Composing a Life (1989) by Mary Catherine Bateson was our latest selection and the first we have read since launching this blog. As such, I wanted to review this book as a blog post, recommend it for individual or book club reading lists, and invite discussion about its content and themes.
Before I review this book, it is worth describing how I selected it for our group or, rather, how it was selected for me. At a recent conference, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with a female colleague and mentor who is more advanced than me in years and professional experience.
Continue reading Book Review of Composing a Life (1989) by Mary Catherine Bateson