Can “Sharp Elbows” Get You Promoted?
During the recent discrimination lawsuit by Ellen Pao against Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins, one of comments that surfaced in the testimony caught my eye--Ellen was described as having “sharp elbows.”
It got me thinking of the difference between being Assertive and Aggressive.
The case also highlighted the persistent difference in how behaviors by men and women are perceived in the workplace. A man with “sharp elbows” is often seen as someone who gets things done; but a woman exhibiting similar go-getter behavior is often seen as overly aggressive, a sure indicator of lack of advancement potential.
In a recent Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) white paper, How to Be the Boss without being the B-word (Bossy), the authors describe how bossy people generally don’t advance far, i.e., they are not viewed by direct reports, co-workers, or bosses as having promotion potential.
In strengthening our Emotional Intelligence, the competency of Assertiveness is an important component of the Self-Expression dimension. Assertiveness is being able to stand up for and articulate your strongly held opinions and beliefs, even in the face of disagreement, and while respecting the views of others.
Assertiveness is supported by five other EQ dimensions: Self-Awareness, Emotional Expression, Impulse Control, Empathy, and Interpersonal Relationships.
Perceptions of (and actual) gender discrimination and differences in how similar behaviors are viewed have been forefront in the tech world for a number of months.
Interesting that another CCL report (Bossy: What’s Gender Got To Do With It?) shows that both men and women are equally likely to act “bossy” however women are called “bossy” twice as often as men exhibiting similar behaviors. No surprise that this has a negative effect on their promotion potential far more often than men.
Bossy—which includes Aggressive behavior—is damaging to both men and women. Bossy people are seen as unlikeable, unpopular, and lacking potential. Aggressive behavior undercuts trust and respect in the organization creating difficult working relationships.
Assertiveness has an added benefit according to the Mayo Clinic. It also helps you control stress and anger and improve coping skills.
Cultivating Assertiveness helps you achieve what you want.
Aggressive behavior can derail your career.
To your best potential,
Are 360 evaluations part of your leader development plan? VAULT is now certified to administer and coach the outcomes of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)’s 360 assessment programs. Contact us to discuss your 360 needs.
Recent blog posts:
What Happens When You Lose Focus?
Who Is Driving Your Time?
What "Boss History" Drives Your Leadership Style?
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