Writing to Win: The Great Untapped Talent Pool
by Royce Murcherson
In previous posts, I have always stressed the fundamentals of persuasive business writing found in my book, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. But lately, an important book, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg has come to my attention. It’s an honest, frank work that focuses on an untapped talent pool in the business world. It continues offering vital information on how these talented individuals can become leaders, champions, and partners. Who are the people that make up this untapped resource? Women.
At first sight, you might think this is just another self-help book full of advice you’ve already heard. I did, until I spoke with a female executive in a fortune 500 corporation. I suddenly realized a simple truth. Chances are many women in the business world have lived the challenges presented in Sheryl Sandberg’s book and may not have realized that there are reasonable and available options for overcoming these challenges.
What does all of this come down too? It comes down to women being assertive and understanding the value of internal networking. It comes down to collaboration and communication. There are companies that encourage women to seek a more visible role as senior leaders.
In my conversation with the executive who is currently involved in a women’s internal networking group, I asked, what is the biggest value? She responded, “It’s the opportunity to meet with my peers, other women, and be sponsored by senior leaders who are also women.” She went on to explain how rewarding it was to be in a group with like-minded high performing women with ambition. But most importantly, she stressed the importance of having ‘confidants’, other women who share the same goals and challenges.
I pressed for more specific reasons on how women could benefit from internal networking circles. She said, “…it gives you the opportunity to meet peers from other areas of the company and expand your awareness of opportunities within the organization.”
As I understand it, there are three big advantages to networking circles:
- You build relationships.
- You are able to increase awareness of greater leadership opportunities.
- You build knowledge with specific discussions on issues that help women to increase their effectiveness and exposure in the workplace.
Being a teacher, I needed more examples of real-time value, so I asked her what chapters in the book have ‘stayed’ with you, that is, the biggest simplest rules to remember? Quickly, she said chapters two and four.
Chapter two according to Sandberg is time to “Sit at the Table”. So what does this chapter boil down too I asked? She said, “…from what I have learned from reading the book is that women should take their proper place and not defer to eat the children’s table, be assertive.”
She went on to talk about chapter four, “It’s a Jungle Gym, not a Ladder.” I asked her to elaborate and she spoke about yet another great metaphor, the jungle gym. Apparently, the author wants women to understand that the way to success is not always a straight line. Lateral moves are good, but sometimes backwards moves can be made to build your skill set and advance.
So, if someone were to ask me what was the value in sitting down and talking to someone actively involved in a women’s group whose intent is to expand their reach professionally and personally, I would have to say this. Think Chess.
It’s all about strategy and patience. Be strategic and recognize that women represent the great untapped pool of talent. Be strategic and do something about organizing this vast pool. Be patient and know that knowledge building and forging relationships may take time, but the rewards can be great.
In his review of Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group stated, “…women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society.”
For a more expanded discussion on workplace etiquette, look forward to further posts, and see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)
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