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Becoming a leader : women’s experiences of organizational leadership Bradbury, Suzanne 1996

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BECOMING A LEADER: WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES OF ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP by • SUZANNE BRADBURY BA. (Hon.) Carleton University, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY We accept this thesis as confppffljng to^ he^  required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA APRIL 1996 © Suzanne Bradbury, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholariy purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of faiKKF/JJA/j T^VCMOUX^Y The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date APQ.nhf* DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate and iiluminate the general patterns characterizing the process of becoming a leader as experienced by successful women leaders in organizational management. Previous research has examined the qualities women are commonly socialized to bring to the workplace and leadership, it has documented the issues and problems women commonly encounter in the workforce, and it has studied how women lead in terms of their effectiveness and style. Little previous research, however, has focused on how women actually experience the process of adjustment involved in becoming a leader in the workplace. The focus has been on measuring behavior rather than accessing the subjective experience of the experiencer, so little is known about how women actually experience this process. For the present study, a narrative case study approach was used to interview five women who, to be eligible for the study, had to have assumed management or leadership positions in an organization and have reached a stage of comfort and stability in their roles as leaders. They each told the stories of their progress towards positions of leadership in interviews lasting approximately two hours. From these interviews five detailed and vivid narrative accounts were generated. These accounts were written as much as possible from the perspectives of the participants and used their own words as much as possible. From intensive analysis of the narrative accounts four major thematic movements or clear themes of progress common to the experience of all the women emerged clearly. These thematic movements characterize and illuminate the significant components of the process of becoming a leader. The results of the study suggest that the ability to understand fear and face challenge in order to develop confidence and competence, the ability to secure a supportive work environment, the articulation of a personally congruent leadership style, and the development of a personal vision all further a woman's process of becoming a leader. The significance of this study lies primarily in the area of enhancing vocational counselling theories and practice. The results suggest that a woman's process of becoming a leader is one of self-discovery and Ill The results suggest that a woman's process of becoming a leader is one of self-discovery and self-growth. The study indicates that a woman may resolve many of the conflicts presented to her as she moves into leadership positions by discarding the role of the traditional leader in favor of forging a new identity that fits more congruently with her personal values and style. This study augments existing research by outlining a process through which this transition may occur. From a practical perspective, these women and the general pattern of their experiences can serve as guides for counsellors, employers, and others who effect and shape the working lives of women. In particular, this study provides women with accessible role models of real women struggling with real issues, representing between them a wide range of real solutions and coping techniques. It validates our experience and our tacit identification of the issues we must confront, and it outlines a path for reaching our goals. The utility of this information lies not in imposing any definition of achievement on women, but in increasing the range of vocational choices and the quality of vocational experiences available to them. iv Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iv Acknowledgments v Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Chapter 2: Literature Review • ' 4 Chapter 3: Methodology 26 Chapter 4: Lisa's Story 36 Chapter 5: Lynne's Story 59 Chapter 6: Ann's Story 80 Chapter 7: Diana's Story 96 Chapter 8: Kathryn's Chronology 116 Chapter 9: Analysis Thematic Movement #1: Securing a Supportive Work Environment 117 Thematic Movement #2: The Development of Confidence and Competence 129 Thematic Movement #3: The Evolution of a Leadership Style and Philosophy 148 Thematic Movement #4: The Development of Vision 161 Chapter 10: Discussion 175 References 202 Appendices Appendix A: Screening Interview Questions 206 Appendix B: Informed Consent Form 207 Appendix C: Outline of Phenomenological Interview 209 Appendix D: Participant Review Letter 211 Acknowledgements This thesis is dedicated to the five wonderful women who shared their stories with me so that other women could benefit from their experiences. It is also dedicated to my husband, whose unfailing faith in me has so often sustained me. For such constant support and encouragement I know of no way to express my gratitude. I would like to thank my mother and mother-in-law, Lynda and Lynne. Their support was also invaluable to me - given so generously each in their own ways. I would like to thank my sister-in-law, Joanne, for helping me transcribe all of the interviews at the same time as she was embarking oh her first experience of motherhood: Finally,T would also like to extend my thanks to Larry for his solution-focused approach and his enthusiasm for this project at every stage in the research. 1 Chapter 1 Introduction Women leaders are in the vanguard of a cultural transition. Much of the social support which has kept women from occupying leadership roles in society is diminishing, but neither women nor men have been socialized to negotiate this transition with ease. As a result, the experience of assunnng leadership is a complex one for women. Despite attempts to decrease discrimination and increase the numbers of women employed in the labor market, horizontal sex segregation in the labor market continues to be persistent and visible examples of female leadership are rare (Eccles, 1987). Research has so far highlighted that the current organizational reality is still heavily stacked against women so that, competence and effort notwithstanding, very few professional women can rise to positions of leadership (Bhatbagar, 1988). Those that do break through this 'glass ceiling' to enter into managerial roles are faced with what many researchers have referred to as a double bind (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1992; Kanter & Nichols, 1994; Lipman Blumen, 1992). The dilemma for women is that leadership has come to be defined in almost entirely masculine terms since only men were seen acting as leaders in the past. Thus, for a woman to behave as an effective leader she must violate stereotypic gender expectations, while if she behaves in a traditionally feminine manner she runs the risk of being seen as subordinate and ineffective. Women leaders are never evaluated simply as managers oh the job, but always as women on the job (Nichols, 1994); Nancy Nichols writes that in order for women to be successful in the workplace, they must "carefully thread their way through a contradictory set of complex expectations, constantly balancing their own and others' beliefs about what it means to be a woman with long held beliefs about what it means to be a manager, a lawyer, or just about any other type of professional" (Nichols, 1994, p.xiii). This means that as women move up into positions of leadership in organizations, the normal increase in pressure and responsibility is compounded by this struggle (Nichols, 1994). Very recently research literature has begun to embrace the traditionally 'feminine' skills and values women bring to leadership as the components of a new and superior management style (Cammaert, 1994; Helgesen, 1990; Lipman-Blumen, 1992; Rosener, 1990). It remains to be seen whether this new development will make the acquisition of a leadership role a smoother process for women, or whether it will create a sea of new gender-based stereotypes to further complicate the notion of'leadership behavior' for women (Fierman, 1990). It is possible that this new philosophy may even be employed to condemn those women who do not conform to a 'ferninine' style of leadersMp, mrther contributing to the double bind experienced by women leaders. Despite the complexity of the leadership experience for women, the past two decades have been marked by a dramatic increase in the number of women entering into the labor force and into positions of organizational leadership (Rosen, 1982). Furthermore, young women are increasingly invited to consider careers in the paid work force, and many may aspire to become leaders in the occupational fields of their choice (Eccles, 1987). In order to better facilitate the experience of leadership for women, it is important to gain a rich appreciation of how the process of becoming a leader is negotiated and understood by female leaders. This is the topic of the present study. Until now the focus of most research has been on measuring behavior, rather than listening to the personal experience of the experiencers. Consequently, little is known about how women actually experience the complex process of becoming a leader. The purpose of the present research project, therefore, is to illuminate the subjective arid objective processes through which women actively construct leadership roles that are personally congruent and satisfying; This investigation focuses on the process of becoming a leader rather than simply on the experience of leading itself in order for it to be possible to map how conflicts and issues were approached, experienced, and resolved and to identify land-marks within this transformation. This study was designed to investigate the process of beconung a leader from the perspectives of five women who have undergone this transformation. As such, a narrative case study approach based on phenomenological interviews was selected as the most appropriate means of documenting and understanding their experiences. By inviting the women to tell their stories, then transferring their stories into a narrative framework, it was possible to retain the holistic and meaningful qualities of these experiences. From these narratives, it was subsequently possible to explore the commonalities in the experiences of these successful female leaders in order to illuminate patterns in how they coped and made sense out of their emerging leadership identities. The significance of this study lies primarily in the area of enhancing vocational counselling theories and practice. During today's upheaval in the norms about gender and the work place, it is crucial that counsellors, employers, and others who affect and shape the working lives of women, understand how women actually experience becoming leaders and successfully resolve the issues they encounter. Knowledge about this process is necessary in order to fully define a more female-friendly model of leadership and to facilitate our understanding of how women move into satisfying leadership roles. It is important to note, however, that the objective of this research is hot to impose any definition of achievement on women, but to increase the range of vocational choices and the quality of vocational experiences that are available to them. Chapter 2 Literature Review Women in the Workforce - General Context The issues facing women who enter and seek to advance in the workplace, in addition to that of the 'double bind', are clearly documented by an extensive body of research. This research indicates that sexism continues to be a major problem plaguing women's experiences in the workforce, preventing their advance into positions of leadership and complicating the experience of leading for those women who do attain such positions. Although sexism may not be either conscious or deliberate, it operates in the minds of both men and women to create a 'perceptual bias.' This perceptual bias distorts perceptions to match unconsciously stereotyped beliefs and expectations and results in the systematic misperception and devaluation of work performed by women. Thus, the overuse of gender stereotypes yields a perceptual bias which in turn spawns the dynamic of discrimination responsible for creating both internal and external barriers for women in their advancement towards positions of leadership (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993). Recent research has supported the notion that fairly rigid and limiting stereotypes of men and women are still part of our culture and are continuing to interfere with women's progress in the workplace. A 1990 Gallup Poll found that the characteristics considered to be generally true of women still include; emotional, talkative, sensitive, affectionate, moody and romantic. Men, however, are considered to be aggressive, strong, proud, confident, independent, and ambitious (Fierman, 1990). Traditionally male characteristics are more likely to be considered desirable in a worker and in a leader than those which are considered characteristic of women. Recently when Catalyst, a women's professional support organization, polled female executives from 1,000 Companies listed by Fortune magazine, more than half of the respondents said that male stereotyping and preconceptions of women were top factors holding back their careers and keeping them from higher level management 5 positions (Prasso, 1996). This phenomenon, the result of gender stereotyping and discrimination, has been dubbed the 'glass ceiling'. Invisible but solid, the glass ceiling prevents women from advancing beyond lower-level management positions in their organizations and contributes to the under-representation of women in the top levels of most professions (Carr-Ruffino, 1993). Stereotypes have been found to work from within as well as from without. Internal stereotypes may interfere with a woman's career advancement by restricting her vision of what shemight achieve in the work world, thus restricting her career aspirations (Koziara, Moskow, & Dewey Tanner, 1987). These internal barriers may also manifest themselves in terms of self-limiting beliefs women may have about their own leadership potential, ability to exercise power, and freedom to speak up about goals, ambitions, and strengths. (Carr-Ruffino, 1993). A particularly insidious effect of internalized discriminatory concepts is the tendency of women to blame themselves for failure and credit external factors, such as luck or hard work, instead of their abilities for success. These stereotypes have a negative impact on a woman's chances for advancement and on her personal self-esteem. Internal stereotypes about one's gender may also contribute to the very real experience of role conflict for women in the workforce as they attempt to juggle family obligations with work responsibilities or as they attempt to integrate their image of themselves as successful workers and successful women. High levels of role conflict have been associated with low job satisfaction, low job involvement, and ambivalence about the importance of management careers (Koziara, Moskow, & Dewey Tanner, 1987). On the whole, these internal stereotypes operate to lower a woman's self-confidence in the workplace, afreet the quality of her performance, and create confusion, frustration and discouragement as she strives to participate and perform (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993). Women who don't have these internal barriers may confront many additional barriers, both individual and systemic, in their work environments. Stereotypes have been shown to Work against women early on, in the form of bias against them in the judgments made by 6 corporate recruiters, personnel officers,and others in the'gate keeping'positions of organizations in many career fields (Koziara, Moskow, & Dewey Tanner, 1987). Later, once women enter into an organization or are hired into management positions, discrimination continues to affect their opportunities for development and others' appraisals of their performance (Alimo-Metcalf, 1994). They are less likely to be given career enhancing and challenging tasks (Koziara, Moskow, & Dewey Tanner, 1987) and they are less likely to be recognized and promoted as quickly as their male counterparts (Nieva & Gutek, 1981). Those few women who do reach the upper echelons of power in their professions are often subject to the consequences of tokenism which accompany their experience of being the only one or part of a small minority in their work environments. Instead of being viewed as unique individuals with idiosyncratic traits and dispositions, these women often must bear the burden of being considered representative of their sex. Their distinctiveness activates their work associates' gender schemas and increases the incidence of stereotypic assumptions, treatment, and perceptual bias (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993). Women are still consistently paid less than men for the same or comparable jobs. The salary difference between men and women occurs not only at entry level positions, but actually increases with increasing experience and status rank in the organization (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993). A1992 study by Jacobs found that the gap between the pay of male and female managers is actually larger than the pay gap between men and women in general.. The common career paths for women interested in management are often inhospitable to them for other reasons as well. Carr-Ruffino (1993), cites corporate career paths that ignore women's family needs and obligations as other example of external obstacles which may block women's advancement into positions of leadership. Women still bear a disproportionate burden of childrearing and household tasks, and frequently find the combined demands of their professional and family roles stressful (Korabik, McDonald, and Rosin, 1993). It is still uncommon for organizations to provide women with the structures they need, like flexible job structures and affordable, quality child care, in order to have uninterrupted careers as well as satisfying family lives (Carr-Ruffino, 1993). Women also commonly find themselves excluded from the peer relationships and the informal yet important information networks that constitute the social structure of the corporate environment (Haslett, Geis, Carter, 1993). Most female executives find that they have to confront the daunting challenge of a 'white noise' of male corporate culture which is pervasive yet often unidentifiable in their work environments. They must struggle to feel in sync with the values and norms of these cultures and to access the social networks through which much informal business is conducted (PrassO, 1996). The number of organizational environments in which women are "at home" and thriving are precarious and still marginal (Marshall, 1993), yet a degree of comfort and inclusion in the informal social community of their work world is desirable for women both in terms of experiencing a sense of belonging and credibility and in terms of doing business and furthering the advancement of their careers (Haslett, Geis, Carter, 1993). Furthermore, women are less likely to have access to mentoring or sponsorship relationships to guide and support their participation in their work worlds and facilitate their career development. They also lack role models of other women in positions of authority. A visible and adequate number of female authority role models is frequently considered the most effective way to break down gender stereotypes at all levels and to enhance other women's behavioral effectiveness (Haslett, Geis, Carter, 1993). A recent report on women executives concluded that until more women move into visible leadership positions with substantial profit and loss responsibilities, the pool of corporate leadership will continue to lack a critical mass of women (Prasso, 1996). An even more insidious and particularly destructive manifestation of discriminatory attitudes is that of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment remains a serious issue and an increasingly common problem for women in the workplace. Instances of sexual harassment can range from the creation of a hostile environment through sexist pictures, expressions, or jokes to outright advances. It usually involves the abuse of a position of power to intimidate 8 an employee, and since it is more common for men to hold the power positions in organizations there are many more opportunities for them to sexually harass their subordinates, who are often women (Haslett, Geis, Carter, 1993), To gain an appreciation of the extent of the problem, it is worth noting that the US Merit Systems Protection Board 1987 survey estimated that during a two-year period, sexual harassment cost the US government $267 million in lost productivity and turnover (MS. Foundation for Women, 1995) Despite the negative effect these inequalities are likely to have on a woman's work experience, however, research has generally demonstrated that a woman's involvement in the paid workforce is good for her self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction (Long & Kahn, 1993). Women may therefore be willing to do battle with the effect of gender stereotypes at all levels of their experience in order to enjoy the very real rewards of work (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993). There is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that, dueto economic necessity, the situation may be improving for women in the workplace (Rizzo & Mendez, 1990). Carr-Ruffino, in her book "The Promotable Woman" (1993), suggests that technological and cultural developments in our economy will prove to be very favorable for women who want careers in management. The emergence of a more female-friendly workplace may be related to the results of a recent study. Eighty-five percent of 461 female executives polled felt increasingly optimistic about women's potential for making it to the top of their professions (Prasso, 1996). Further to this general understanding of the complex issues and problems confronted by women as they participate in the workforce, this literature review seeks to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the process of becoming a leader from beginning to end. In order to do so, it is necessary to explore specific areas of research relevant to understanding the question of how women experience the process of becoming a leader. Because the experience of becoming a leader will eventually be conceptualized within a narrative structure, it is particularly vital to illuminate the beginning and the end of this process/The beginning 9 and end points of a story define the essential nature of the transition and indicate the major developments involved (Cochran, personal communication, August, 1995). To achieve this, this literature review will focus on gaining a more in-depth understanding of the dispositions and tendencies women bring to the experience of leadership and of the possible outcomes of the process of becoming a leader. Since no literature reviewed to date specifically addresses a woman's experience of becoming a leader, the research assumptions concerning this process will be distilled from indirectly related literature and studies and will draw on literature from both vocational development and organizational psychology domains. Relevant literature has been selected on the basis of whether or not the information informs our understanding of this experience from the point of View of the experiences The literature to be reviewed is separated into two distinct categories for convenience of discussion. In the first, the research on women's career development informs us generally about the qualities and characteristics that women might bring to the process of becoming a leader. In the second, the work on leadership styles and leader effectiveness sheds light on the end result of the process under investigation, and represents the synthesis of the woman's predisposition towards leadership and her experiences in the workplace. Together, this information should clarify the story that is anticipated. Definition Before proceeding with the present review, it is necessary to define leadership as a concept. As it is often repeated in the literature, there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are people who have attempted to define it (Stogdill, 1974). Leadership has been defined in terms of individual traits, leader behavior, interaction patterns, and role relationships to name only a few conceptualizations (Yukl, 1989). Recently, it has been fashionable to distinguish between leadership and management. The essential distinction between them appears to be that managers simply concentrate on getting tasks accomplished, while leaders focus on loftier concepts of vision, change, and 10 empowerment. This distinction, however, is better suited to the purveyors of organizational improvement literature than to the purposes of this research. Since the present study seeks to understand how women experience leading rather than how women might lead most effectively, the words management and leadership will be used interchangeably to simplify the discussion. The present study seeks to investigate the female experience of organizational or vocational leadership. Leadership can be said to occur any time in one's life when one demonstrates influence, but since this study seeks to understand a woman's experience of leadership in the context of the work place, leadership will be conceptualized as occurring within the context of a legitimate position of authority in an organization. The objective role of a leader therefore is defined as the following: Leaders establish and transmit organizational standards, represent the organization to both their subordinates and to external publics, and make key policy and procedural decisions: The tasks of leadership include planning, decision making, directing, supervising, and evaluating the work of others, and bearing responsibility forthe unit's performance. (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1992). For the purposes of the present research project, this type of leadership experience can be understood to occur across a wide variety of industries, including for-profit, non-profit, and government institutions. It is hoped that by focusing on heterogeneous examples of leadership, it will be possible to better identify the commonalities in thetransformative process of becoming a leader. These Objective criteria, however, only give us a place to start defining leadership because the present study seeks to understand that experience which lies behind such a clearly defined status or office. It is therefore necessary to expand this definition of leadership to include the subjective views of the human actors. A specific career theory can point the way to such a definition. Stebbins (1970) talks about the personal aspects of a career as the subjective career. He defines the subjective career as the "actor's recognition and interpretation of past 11 and future events associated with a particular identity, and especially his interpretation of important contingencies as they were or will be encountered." An individual's subjective career manifests itself in the tales that a person tells to lend coherence to their life (Barley, 1989). In these tales, the 'subjective' components are obviously intimately intertwined with 'objective' events. Organizational leadership then, can be thought of as one of the 'particular identities' that punctuates a woman's subjective career; As was previously mentioned, leadership tends to be a particularly complex identity for a woman to come to terms with, and her movement towards the successful construction of such an identity will be marked by her interpretations of events and contingencies. Through the telling of her story, this study seeks to access the subjective meaning that she attributes to that role and the sense she makes of her 'becoming' as she struggles to adjust and become comfortable with this identity. The final meaning of her successful resolution of a leadership identity, however, will be defined by the woman herself. Contemplating Leadership Female Career Development. The literature on gender-role socialization and women's career development can provide insight into the values, beliefs, and aspirations that women typically bring to the experience of leadership. The concept of leadership has come to be defined in terms that our society has traditionally labeled 'masculine* (Nicols, 1994; Powell & Butterfield, 1979; Watson, 1988). In her essay on connective leadership, Lipman-Blumen (1992) states that the standard leadership image is characterized by individualism, self-reliance, emotional control, and emphasizes behaviors focused on task mastery, competition, and dominance Research and theory on gender-role socialization and female career development suggest that women are not socialized to develop such qualities and instead are socialized to develop qualities that could be considered antithetical to this traditional understanding of leadership (Nieva & Gutek, 1981). It is therefore useful to examine the literature on women's career development and achievement aspirations in order to shed light 12 on the qualities and characteristics that women bring to the traditionally 'masculine' experience of leadership. Washburn (1993) asserts that the key to understanding women's attitudes towards career and achievement lies in their gender-role socialization. Ireson and Gill (1988) define socialization as "the process by which a person's behavior and personality characteristics are created and. modified according to the expectations of others" (p. 133). Both individuals and institutions serve to influence a female's achievement orientation and occupational aspirations (Ireson & Gill, 1988). The following discussion of gender-role socialization in the context of a female experience of leadership will be conceptualized according to two interrelated themes from the literature; the development of a woman's value hierarchy and her orientation towards work (Eccles, 1987; Marshall, 1993). These themes combine to determine the primary influences on women's experience in the work-force. Values. A woman's experience of leadership is likely to be strongly influenced by the set of values that she acquires as she grows up in our culture. Psychologists and career . theorists assert that gehder-role socialization leads women and men to develop different hierarchies of core personal values (Gilligan, 1982). A wide variety of research suggests that women are socialized to develop an orientation towards relationships and connection with others (Eccles, 1987; Miller, 1976; Gilligan, 1982). Some theorists believe that females are predisposed to this orientation by their earliest bonding experiences with their mothers (Chodorow, 1978). Parents, due to their own internalized gender based beliefs, continue to foster this orientation in their daughters by their child-rearing practices and this reinforcement is furthered by the impact of the media (Ireson & Gill, 1988; Washburn, 1993). By the time they are adults, the values and beliefs of young women are grounded in ideals of nurturing, caring and intimacy (Miller, 1984), leading them to place relationships at the fore (Eccles, 1987). Vocational decisions are mediated by an individual's set of core values and personal needs (Eccles, 1987). A primary orientation towards relationship has several implications for 13 women's vocational experiences and leadership aspirations. First, women may be more likely than men to experience conflict between their responsibilities towards family and their responsibilities towards work. Part of females' socialization is to be taught that family is their role and responsibility. In adolescence, however, females discover that our society also values achievement. Consequently, women tend to anticipate a combination of family and career, but are not provided with any information on how to integrate these successfully. As a result, women may experience some confusion or conflict as they struggle to integrate their affiliative and achievement needs (Washburn, 1993; Eccles, 1987). It may also mean that women will be more likely to shy away from those vocational positions, such as leadership, which traditionally have not made allowances for the familial responsibilities of their occupants (Eccles, 1987). Second and relatedly, there is some indication that women define success as the achievement of balanced lifestyle (this may represent a need to resolve the above mentioned role conflict). In her review of the literature on women and achievement, Eccles (1987) concludes that men are more likely to compartmentalize their various needs, while women seek a greater degree of interconnectedness between vocational arid personal domains. As a result women are not likely to endorse a 'sacrifice to be your best' perspective and are more likely to be concerned about the cost of such a philosophy to an individual's health and relationships (Helgesen, 1990). Finally, an orientation towards relationship may foster in women an aversion to hierarchy and competition, both of which thrive on a basis of disconnection and independence, and as such pose a threat to interconnected relationships (Helgesen, 1990; Washburn, 1993). Consequently, women may shy away from positions that they understand to be based on competition, or they may strive to bring to those positions a more cooperative style. Work Orientation. Despite developments that have been made in the vocational opportunities available to women, many females still hold a distinctly traditional orientation towards work. Researchers have found the career aspirations of women are indeed overwhelmingly stereotypically 'feminine' (Ireson & Gill, 1988; Washburn, "1993). Young 14 women tend to aspire still to traditional roles of homemaker and parent, while those who do consider an occupation outside the home do so tentatively (Eccles, 1987). An individual's orientation to work emerges out of her beliefs about herself in addition to the set of values she holds. In her 'career choice' model of female vocational development, Eccles (1987), suggests that a woman's vocational decisions are guided by her expectations of success at a given task. Research suggests that women may lack confidence in their abilities to succeed at non-traditional tasks such as vocational leadership (Eccles, 1987). The development and early socialization of young girls is thought to thwart a sense of competency and self-sufficiency (Washburn, 1993). This effect is further reinforced by high school and college environments, which have been found to be less congenial to women than to men because of the emphasis on individual achievement and competition (Katz, 1979). This lack of confidence may lead women to avoid non-traditional pursuits such as leadership in favor of pursuits which present a better fit to females' sense of competence (Eccles, 1987). Two other factors that may contribute to a woman's orientation towards leadership are an absence of female role models and an awareness of discrimination in the workplace. Women are still seriously underrepresented in high status and non-traditional occupational positions in the workplace (Swiderski, 1988). As a result, women have few role models to alert them, inspire them, and provide accurate information about non-traditional vocational possibilities. Without a role-model to legitimize a novel or non-traditional career, women may not seriously consider it because it does not appear to fit in with their gender-role schema (Eccles, 1987). However, women who have grown up in dual career families or who have had a good deal of exposure to female authority figures and role models are more likely to consider non-traditional vocational alternatives for themselves as well (Ireson & Gill, 1988). The avoidance of non-traditional career options may also be based on an awareness of the workplace discrimination which this experience might entail. If a woman has an understanding of the toll which tokenism and sexism can have on an individual's sense of self, she may decide that pursuing a non-traditional career path may involve too great a cost (Eccles, 1987; Washburn, 1993). A 15 woman's orientation towards work may change throughout her life span. There is evidence to suggest that pressure for women to conform to gender roles peaks in late adolescence and early adulthood, after which time women begin to disengage themselves from traditional notions of gender (Eccles, 1987; Washburn, 1993). As a result, women may be more open to participating in non-traditional vocational roles later in their lives, as opposed to when they are young. Finally, another hypothetical consideration for women considering leadership concerns Horner's (1979) 'fear of success' theory. Horner suggested that women may avoid achieving in a non-traditional pursuit for fear of being penalized for behaving in a non-feminine way. A research project of Paludi and Fankell-Hauser (1986) sets out to test Horner's fear of success hypothesis and also serves to provide empirically based feedback on a number of the other variables mentioned above. The researchers conducted biographical interviews with women to elicit information about the relationship between their personality characteristics and their attitudes towards achievement. Eighty women, with ages ranging from the late teens to the eighties, were recruited from educational institutions, women's organizations, and retirement settings. Their sample included women who were just beginning a career through to those who were retired. The researchers also included women who were not employed in the labor force. The women were asked a set of standardized interview questions concerning their goals and the impact of other forces, such as family, friends, and role models, on their achievements of those goals. A theme emerged from the data which suggested that compared to older women, younger women were more concerned with interpersonal relationships and less concerned with competitive achievement. This result supports the assertion that women peak in terms of stereotypic gender-role conformity in early adulthood, after which their notions of their own genderedness become increasingly individualized. A second finding revealed that women who were raised in dual-career families tended to be more achievement oriented, which is congruent with the notion that role-modeling is an integral part of developing an orientation towards work-place success; Finally, when asked if they had ever 16 been in a situation in which they were going to succeed at something and feared that success, 90% of the women said "no." Instead, they reported experiencing a much more common fear of failing at their goals. This result suggests that a lack of confidence, rather than a fear of success, is more likely to be integral to the experience of career for women. Many women (96%) wondered whether their achievements were worth it in terms of the toll their success might have on themselves and their families. This result suggests that many women may experience a tension between the responsibilities of career and family. This tension may make them hesitant to devote a great deal of time and energy to the workplace and may lead them instead to seek a degree of balance between these forces in their lives. Interpreted another way, it also provides support for the notion that a basic relationship orientation is an important part of the value hierarchy of many women. In discussions of gender-role development, it is important to remember that there is the possibility of infinite variability across individuals. Bass (1990) asserts that when it comes to actual rather than stereotypic differences between men and women, those women who become leaders tend to be similar in personality to their male counterparts. It may be that women who choose to entertain the possibility of occupying leadership roles do so as a result of an atypical socialization experience, or they may experience a process of re-socialization as they move into a leadership role. Overall, however, research has found that considerable homogeneity exists in gender-role development and females' achievement experiences. In assessing the population of women in general, it is safe to say that woman consistently develop relatively traditional constructions of themselves as gendered and that this influences their participation in life's activities (Washburn, 1993). Therefore, it can also be said that we are justified in our dependence on this literature to give us some insight into the approach many women are likely to bring to the experience of becoming a leader. In summary, the literature would suggest that women are predisposed to approach leadership from a different perspective than that which is suggested by the traditional understanding of leadership, providing, that is, that they choose to approach leadership at all. The perspective they would 17 bring to the experience of leading would include an emphasis on the importance of relationships. This emphasis may result in possible conflict between career and family roles, a desire for lifestyle balance, and an aversion to competition and hierarchical structures. Women's approach to leadership may also be moderated by a hesitancy to engage in non-traditional career options due to lack of confidence, lack of role models, or an awareness of workplace discrimination. Females' orientation towards work and leadership may change through their life span, as their values and ideas about their own genderedness shift and evolve. The qualities which women bring to leadership will be integrated into the process of becoming a leader more or less easily depending upon the adherence to the traditional model of leadership in a given occupational setting and the extent of gender-role socialization for an individual woman. Assumptions. 1. Gender-role socialization is a real process which impacts upon the development of a woman's identity. 2. There is an interaction between a woman's gender-role identity and her approach to the experience of leadership. 3. Traditional notions of femininity and traditional notions of leadership are antithetical. Critique. While psychological research has explored the impact of gender-role socialization on a woman's sense of self and on her vocational choices, this question has not been addressed from the point of view of the experiences As a result, women have not had the opportunity to frame this interaction in a way which reflects their subjective experience of it. It is also not known how a woman's gender-role identity interacts with her orientation towards leadership. Based on this literature, assumptions can be made about the qualities and values that women might bring to leadership, but it is still necessary to validate these assumptions through women's experience. 18 Emergent Leadership Sex Differences in Leadership. Much of the research on women leaders has relied on comparative male-female studies and analyses. Reviewing the research can be dissatisfying since men invariably become the standard against which women's experiences are evaluated (Marshall, 1984). We must rely on this type of research to shed light on the end product of the process of becoming a leader for women however, because there is so little available research which allows women's leadership experience to stand alone. Efforts will therefore be made to distill women's experience from these comparative studies. Leadership Styles. A large body of research has asked the question, "do women manage differently than men?" Research has determined that effective leadership requires both task-oriented and socio-emotional skills (Rojahn & Willemsen, 1994), and most leadership style studies use this framework to evaluate leadership style (Marshall, 1984). Based on what is known about the way women and men are socialized, researchers once assumed that sex-differentiated managerial behavior would be congruent with stereotypic gender-roles (Hennig & Jardin, 1977). Contrary to what might be expected based on women's socialization, social scientists have generally maintained that there are no reliable patterns of difference between female and male leadership styles (Bass, 1990; Eagly & Johnson, 1990; Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1992). This answer to the question of difference however, isfar from conclusive and the findings are complex. Eagly and Johnson (1990) performed a meta-analytic study, reviewing 370 research articles comparing the leadership styles of men and women, and found evidence for both the presence and absence of differences between the sexes. They hypothesized that stereotypic sex differences would be less pronounced in organizational studies than in laboratory studies, rationalizing that the criteria organizations use for selecting managers and the forces they maintain for socializing managers into their roles mimrnize the tendencies for the sexes to lead or manage in a stereotypic manner. Their data supported their hypothesis, with the people in 19 laboratory studies manifesting more gender stereotypic leader behavior than individuals in organizational studies. The strongest evidence that Eagly and Johnson obtained for a sex difference in leadership style occurred in the tendency for women to adopt a more democratic leadership style compared to men, who adopted a more autocratic or directive style, this pattern of difference is consistent with traditional gender stereotypes, which suggest that women are more relationally focused while men concentrate on task-accomplishment above relationship maintenance (Helgesen, 1990). This difference was sustained in the organizational studies as well as in the laboratory studies of leadership style (Eagly & Johnson, 1990). The results of this meta-analysis suggest that, overall, gender socialization does impact upon the way women lead, but that that effect may be moderated by the additional socialization that takes place within an organizational culture. A recent cross-disciplinary literature review by Candida Brush (1993) provides additional support for the notion that women have a tendency to lead differently than men. Brush reviewed 244 studies from practitioner and academic research done across 10 disciplines, including accounting, business strategy, entrepreneurship, finance, human resource management, international business, management information systems, marketing, operations management, organizational studies, and social policy. One hundred and fifty three of these articles focused on the management styles and strategies used by women. She concluded that "there is evidence that women have different styles and strategies of management" (Brush, 1993, p.48) and, again, these differences manifest themselves along gender stereotypic lines. Brush writes that "women utilize cooperative styles of management, engage in networking and team building, and prefer congenial work environments" (Brush, 1993, p.29). A distinctly female management style was not evident in every single case however, and Brush points out that only "when all the studies are put together across fields" can a "profile of female management style and strategy be substantiated" (Brush, 1993, p.48). The conclusions of this literature review by Brush suggest that while women seem to lean towards incorporating traditionally 'feminine' behaviors into their leadership styles, the impact of this tendency is 20 subtle and there is little support for the notion that the women lead in a vastly different way than men: This literature review gives an overall picture of the research results regarding differences between male and female management styles. The evidence suggests that women, as a group, do develop leadership styles which are congruent with traditional gender stereotypes, but these differences are not powerful enough to show up every time. In terms of women's emergent leadership, these results can be interpreted several different ways. One, the impact of women's gender socialization may be slight, and women and men may naturally develop leadership styles in very similar ways. Two, women may bring stereotypic qualities to leadership, but these qualities may be suppressed and others fostered either by the experience of leading itself or by the organization in which they work. Finally, the process of becoming an organizational leader may be one which weeds out women who endorse a traditionally 'feminine' style of management. Leadership Effectiveness. The research that examines the effectiveness of female leaders yields results that are as complicated as those yielded by the research on leadership style. Leadership effectiveness is an value-laden concept, and often has as much to do with the evaluator as it does with the individual being evaluated. Much of the literature suggests that the same leadership behaviors, when performed by a women, are often evaluated less favorably than when they are performed by a man (Eagly, Makhijani, & Klonsky, 1992; Bass, 1990). If this is so, then this is a classic example of the double bind that leadership presents for women: the behaviors that are considered appropriate for successful leaders may be considered inappropriate when they are displayed by female leaders, simply because they are female and the qualities usually subscribed to successful leaders are 'male'. In her review of the research literature on women's management styles and strategies, Candida Brush (1993) also assessed the cross-disciplinary findings of studies that have examined women's competencies as leaders. She found no evidence that women leaders were less skilled or competent in managing and carrying out tasks, but she did conclude that 21 stereotypes still persisted which suggested"mat women are less competent. These stereotypes also tended to suggest that to be more successful in their careers or business, women must adopt male behaviors (Brush, 1993). This result suggests that, although women leaders are no less competent than men, they may feel pressured to work harder for the same amount of approval that male leaders receive for less work. They may also feel pressure to mold their behavior into male patterns of leadership in order to receive validation of their competency. A meta-analysis by Eagly, Maldiijani, and Klonsky (1992) examined research that has addressed the issue of whether women are devalued in leadership roles. They confined their review to experiments whose designs held constant the characteristics of leaders and varied the sex of the leaders, leaving them with 56 documents in all. They concluded that people do evaluate female leaders slightly more negatively than equivalent male leaders. This bias was found to be more pronounced when women exhibited masculine leadership styles, and lead in an autocratic and directive manner. Conversely, men who lead in stereotypically 'feminine' styles (i.e. democratic and interpersonally oriented leadership) were not evaluated negatively, which suggests that men have more freedom than women to explore a diverse range of leadership behaviors without being penalized. The bias against women was also more pronounced when they occupied leadership roles that are usually occupied by men, than for leadership positions where the sex distribution is traditionally more equal. Furthermore, women leaders were more likely to be devalued by male evaluators than by females. Female evaluators showed no gender bias and did not evaluate either female or male leaders more positively. This effect is Of particular concern in light of the fact that most female leaders must work and have their performance assessed in environments where men are the majority. Eagly, Makhijani, and Klonsky conclude that many Of these findings can be interpreted in terms of the gender-role congruency hypothesis which suggests that women run the risk of being evaluated negatively if they violate gender-role expectations in any way in their leadership performance. When combined with the results of Brush's study, which concludes that women are encouraged to perform in a traditionally 'masculine' fashion in order to be successful, it 22 becomes unclear whether women leaders are better off acting in a gender-rdle congruent or non-congruent fashion in order for their performance to be considered effective. A study by Rojahn and Willemsen (1994) attempts to sort out the impact of the gender-fole congruency hypothesis on the evaluation of leadership effectiveness. They hypothesize that members of a task group who assume leadership in a gender-role congruent way would be evaluated more favorably than those who assume leadership in a gender-role incongruent way. They chose to focus on'assumed* rather than'assigned'leadership, rationalizing that biases are likely to operate more freely in the case of the former because cues to the leader's legitimacy are less present. They used three hundred and forty two female and one hundred and fifty four male Dutch undergraduate psychology students, who were randomly assigned to conditions, They were asked to read a one page narrative about a small task group in which both leader sex and leader style were varied, and rate the effectiveness and likability of the leader. A multiple analysis of variance found that the sex-role congruency hypothesis was not supported overall, but it was found that male subjects found the gender-role incongruent leaders to be less individually effective than gender-role congruent leaders, regardless of the leader's sex. In terms of what this means for women's experience, it seems that there is a pressure for women to lead in a gender-role congruent fashion in order to be perceived as effective, particularly if their performance is to be evaluated by men. In light of Brush's (1993) findings, it may be that the bias which comes into play when a leader is being evaluated may operate on an unconscious level, while women leaders may still receive overt advice and pressure to assume a masculine style of leadership to be considered effective. The results of the above studies suggest that women must indeed walk a very fine and contradictory line concerning expectations and evaluations about their competencies as leaders. Even once a woman has reached a leadership position, she may be forced to deal with discriminatory stereotypes which cause others to undervalue her performance. While they may experience a good deal of pressure trying to balance such contradictory expectations, the evidence suggests that many women nevertheless develop into effective leaders. 23 Feminine Leadership. Recently, there has been an interesting new development in the literature on woman's leadership styles and effectiveness. Researchers and theorists have begun to argue that differences women bring to management, far from being a disadvantage, actually predispose them to become better managers than men. The assertion is that women, due to their traditionally 'feminine' interpersonal skills and socially-oriented values, are ideally suited to the 'flattened' organizations of the nineties and will act as trail-blazers in the development of a new style of management needed in the workplace of the future (Fierman, 1990). Lorna Cammaert, in her article "White Water Women" (1993), likens the chaotic and constantly changing workplace of today to "white water ranning." In this workplace, she asserts, leaders will need to work in cooperation with others on their "raft" in'order, to be successful, which requires special skill in dealing with teamwork, trust and relationships. She considers women uniquely qualified to cope and survive in the absence of certainty and lack of stability that are part of today's work environment, because women have been socialized to be comfortable in a milieu of interdependence and constantly shifting paradigms. In her book "The Female Advantage" (1990), Sally Helgesen also endorses the notion of a distinctly 'female' potential for a new progressive leadership. Helgesen performed a diary study on five prominent female leaders in the United States, and concluded that "as women's leadership qualities come to play a more dominant rOle in the public sphere, their particular aptitudes for long-term negotiating, analytic listening, and creating an ambiance in which people work with zest and spirit will help reconcile the split between the ideals of being efficient and being humane. This kind of integration of female values is already producing a more collaborative kind of leadership, and changing the very idea of what strong leadership actually is." (p.249). Other researchers focus less on the assertion that women are innately better leaders than men, and more on the necessity of incorporating 'feminine' qualities into the present understanding of effective leadership. In her essay,"Connective Leadership: Female Leadership Styles in the 20th Century Workplace" (1992), Jean Lipman-Blumen describes an integrative leadership model which she terms 'connective leadership'. She argues that traditionally 'female' role 24 behaviors such as collaboration, contribution, and nurturing, will need to be integrated with the competitive and directive leadership ideal of the past and present in order to prepare for the increasingly interdependent workplace of the twenty-first century. The result will be a leadership which entails "a recognition of the networks of relationships that bind society in a web of mutual responsibilities. It shares responsibility, takes unthreatened pride in the accomplishments of colleagues and proteges, and experiences success without the compulsion to out-do others." (Lipman-Blumen, 1992, p. 184). Judy Rosener, in "Ways Women Lead" (1990), also argues for the benefits of encouraging a diversity of leadership styles. A "new generation of managerial women," she writes, "are succeeding because of - and not in spite of - certain characteristics generally considered to be 'feminine' and inappropriate in leaders" (p. 120). Rosener describes this new kind of leadership as "interactive leadership", in that these leaders are more likely to encourage participation, share power and information, enhance other people's self-worth, and get others excited about their work. It has yet to be seen whether this reevaluation of traditionally 'feminine' qualities in the context of leadership will have a positive or negative impact on the women who are becoming leaders today. While it is certainly a welcome development over the dictates that advise women to transform themselves into men in order to succeed, this new trend has some more subtle but still troubling implications for women's experience of leadership. Nichols (1994) argues that this new approach to management is merely an elaborate extension of prevailing sexual stereotypes. Critics argue that only when effective leadership is considered to include a diversity of leadership styles, will women be allowed to develop leadership in an individualized rather than stereotypic manner. Assumptions. 1 There is an interaction between a woman's sex-role socialization and the experience of becoming a leader which impacts onher development of a leadership style. 25 2. There is a perceived tension between expectations concerning leadership and femininity which interacts with the evaluation of a woman's competency as a leader, although her actual effectiveness may not be affected. 3. Women have distinct skills and qualities which they bring to leadership which may give them an advantage. Critique. From available literature, it is not possible to understand the process through which a woman develops a leadership identity in the face of many contradictory messages and expectations. It may be that women experience this process as conflictual, as a re-socialization, as a process of coriformity, or they may not experience tension around this issue at all. Successful female leaders may have managed to resolve such issues in a manner that could be taught to others, but their approach cannot be understood unless they are provided with the opportunity to articulate their experience. Only then can we understand how women resolve their socialization as women with their socialization as managers in order to construct; a congruent and satisfying leadership identity. 26 Chapter 3 Methodology // is by paying attention to the rich complexity of our present that we can better shape our future (Marshall, 1984). This study investigates and illuminates the general patterns characterizing the process of becoming a leader as experienced by successful women leaders in organizational management. The experience under investigation is understood to be primarily subjective in nature, and has been conceptualized as a process which occurs over time. These two aspects of the phenomenon need to be made explicit because they were relevant factors in determining an appropriate method of research. To faithfully illuminate the subjective component of this phenomenon required a methodology which was capable of capturing experience, in all its richness and complexity, as it was lived by the experiencers. Existential-phenomenological research, with its emphasis on discovery, description, and meaning, provided the most appropriate starting place to begin addressing the research question. However, in the present study this approach was stretched to allow us to also view transformations. Because the phenomenon under investigation involved a "process" - an experience over time as opposed to a single experiential event - the phenomenological interviews gathered in this study were transformed into narrative accounts, Mid these accounts were analyzed for a general pattern. This application of dramaturgy to phenomenological investigation will also be explored in the following paragraphs. Existential Phenomenological Research Existential-phenomenology is a research methodology which seeks to elucidate the actuality of human experience from the inside. Using this approach, the researcher can explore conscious experience directly through a specialized form of introspection, rather than inferentially through overt observation, as is done in cognitive science (Osborne, 1994). This 27 emphasis on directly accessing the essential nature of human experience is evident in Valle and King's description of existential-phenomenology They define existentialism as a philosophy vyhich "seeks to understand the human condition as it manifests itself in our concrete, lived situations," and phenomenology as a method which "allows us to Contact phenomena as we actually live them out and experience them" (Valle & King, 1978, pp. 6-7). Psychological research has traditionally excluded subjective human experience from the content of its inquiry because traditional research methods have limited the scope of what is considered legitimate researchable phenomena to that which can be objectively measured, quantified, and replicated. Critics suggest that traditional psychology, in its devotion to the natural science notion of objectivity, has determined that only one half of human experience (the objectively observable half), is capable of being researched and understood (Osborne, 1994). Colaizzi, in even stronger terms, asserts that to denigrate or deny subjective human experience as legitimate psychological content amounts to denying what is essential in human existence (Colaizzi, 1978). Attention to the subjective human experience was fundamental to the present investigation for two reasons. First, to gain a genuine and profound understanding of how women experience the process of becoming a leader, the researcher had to be permitted to 'get inside' this process. It was not enough to record the manifest behaviors that accompanied this experience for women. To adequately address the research question, it was necessary for the researcher to elucidate what it was like to live this process and determine how these women made sense of it themselves. Second, women have historically had their experiences defined for them by outside forces, and have had few opportunities to tell any aspect of their human story in their own voices. As a result, there is a general absence of female meanings in language (Gilligan, 1982). With regard to leadership, Marshall points out that women have not had the same opportunities as have men to shape the language that surrounds leadership and power, to introduce new meanings, or to define objects and events (Marshall, 1984). Therefore, in seeking to understand the process of becoming a leader as experienced by 28 women, it was essential that women themselves were permitted to articulate that experience in a way that freed them to develop their own voice around the subject. By considering subjective human experience the legitimate content of psychological inquiry, existential-phenomenology allows for a profound understanding of the process of becoming a leader, while also providing a respectful context for women to give voice to their experience. In order to legitimately study subjective human experience, the phenomenologist must reconsider the natural science notion of'objectivity.'Colaizzi (1978) defines phenomenological objectivity as "fidelity to phenomena." To be objective then, in phenomenological research, is to accurately and faithfully describe a phenomenon while refraining from imposing, controlling, denying, or interpreting the experience according to some preconceived suppositions. The phenomenologist is required to conduct research according to the following general principles. First, the researcher must be committed to objectivity in a phenomenological sense. She must observe and describe the phenomenon as accurately as possible, remaining faithful to the experience as articulated by the experiencer so that the meaning of that experience to the individual is retained (Fairbanks, 1990). Second, the researcher must recognize that phenomenological objectivity does not imply a state of absolute disinterest (Colaizzi, 1978). Since it impossible to avoid influencing the topic under investigation, the researcher is obliged to carefully examine her own presuppositions about the phenomenon. The assumption is that by acknowledging and making explicit one's personal presumptions about the phenomenon, one is in a better position to remain aware of the possibilities for biasing the research. Bias-free research is not possible however, and it is assumed that the researcher will to some degree engage in a personal interaction and understanding of the phenomenon pf interest. Third and finally, the researcher must acknowledge that the co-researchers of the study are more than merely a source of data. In accessing an individual's subjective experience, the 29 researcher comes into contact with the richness Of a person's being. This requires that the researcher be a fully and respectfully present witness to the individual's experience. In a phenomenological interview, the researcher must respond to the presence of the individual by being "present in every imaginable way" herself (Colaizzi, 1978). Dramaturgical Approach Traditional phenomenology is useful in identifying the components of an experience but is not able to illuminate as well the relationship of these components within an over-arching experiential structure and does little to illuminate the nature of Complex transformations (Cochran & Claspbell, 1987). In the case of the present research project, the application of dramaturgy and narrative to phenomenology provides a context for understanding which is lacking in pure phenomenological research, and supplies a practical method for capturing the transformative process of becoming a leader. Drama, or story, is one of the most familiar and natural formats used by human beings to conceptualize and communicate their experiences (Cochran & Claspbell, 1987). Most people love to tell stories and are particularly enthusiastic about telling stories that concern their own personal struggles and triumphs. Dramaturgy, therefore, enhances and guides the phenomenological interview in that it provides a format which engages the co-researcher and allows her to convey her experience in an easily comprehensible manner. A dramaturgical approach also impacts upon other aspects of the research process. It guides an exploration of assumptions held by the researcher and others about the nature of the story to unfold. It provides a basis for transforming the information gathered from the phenomenological interview into a narrative account and it impacts the analysis of data, where the dramatic form can guide the researcher in illuminating common patterns in the transformation (Cochran & Claspbell, 1987). In seeking to understand a process that may occur over time, dramaturgy provides a means by which the co-researchers can convey their experiences within a temporal framework. 30 Casting events and experiences into a story form also allows the researcher to see the connections and relationships between phenomenological components, and may allow for explanation and insight into motivation and behavior (Cochran, 1986). Pivotal points can be clarified, in the context of the events that preceded and followed them. Dramaturgical phenomenology is, therefore, more likely to be able to faithfully illuminate the components of the process of becoming a leader than is existential phenomenology alone! By taking dramaturgy one step further and transforming the interviews into narrative accounts of the women's experiences, it better allows the researcher to chart change as it occurs in the process of becoming a leader, focusing upon actions that punctuate the process as well as on experiences. Narrative case studies allow the phenomenon under investigation to be presented in both an individual and highly accessible format, as well as the more abstracted and general pattern. Data Gathering Procedures Co-researchers. In existential-phenpmenological research, the participants are often referred to as participants or co-researchers rather than subjects to better encapsulate the interactive process of the interview and to better represent their status as experts on the phenomenon under investigation (Cochran, personal communication, Nov. 30, 1994). Natural science has perpetuated the impression that people are objects of scientific research, to be observed and quantified by a researcher who is allotted the power of the expert. Phenomenological research requires the researcher to address and seek to neutralize this power imbalance. For this study, the researcher sought to explore the process of becoming a leader with the co-researchers in as collaborative a manner as possible. In order to foster the sense of equality necessary to achieve this collaboration, the researcher reeducated the co-researchers to consider themselves expert contributors to the research project. They were invited to tell their stories in their own individual ways, they were asked to participate in the task of refining the narrative account so that it faithfully represented their process. 31 Study co-researchers were recruited through the researcher's personal and professional contacts. Five co-researchers were selected for the study. Of the five women, two were in their thirties and three were in their forties. Three of the women were married, one was in a cornmitted relationship, and one was single. One of the married women had young children and another had two grown step-children. They all worked in different occupational fields, and four of the women were participating in traditionally male-dominated professions. Some diversity in the sample was considered desirable, to make it possible to map the experience of becoming a leader across a heterogeneous distribution of occupational sectors. Volunteers for the study were screened by the researcher during a casual telephone interview. This interview served to introduce the women to the research topic and to determine whether the candidate met the necessary criteria for participation in this study. A series of questions was asked concerning their experience in management positions in their organizations, how they feel about themselves as managers now, and whether their current state necessitated any kind of adjustment for them. The interview lasted approximately half an hour. A sample of the questions asked of the participants appears in Appendix A. The co-researchers for phenomenological research needed to fulfill the following general criteria: (a) experience with the phenomenon under investigation (b) the ability to articulate the experience (c) sufficient temporal proximity to as well as distance from the experience (Cochran, personal communication, Nov. 7, 1994). In order to be eligible for the present study, a candidate had to have assumed a management or leadership position in an organization, and to have reached a stage in her process where she felt she had stabilized in the position of leadership. This sense of stabilization, or comfort and satisfaction in her leadership role, marked the conceptualized end-point of the process under investigation. It was also important for the woman to have reported that reaching this end-point necessitated some type of transition for her, In order for 32 the process of beGorning a leader to be understood, this research focused on individuals for whom the process of becoming a leader required some adjustment or change. Finally, co-researchers were required to speak English fluently, to be able to articulate their experiences well, and to be willing to reflect and talk about their experience in some detail. The Phenomenological Interview. Each participant in the research project was interviewed individually at a location of convenience to her. All of the interviews were completed within a 3 month period. The length of the interviews was determined by the time needed by each woman to tell her story, but usually lasted between 1 and 3 hours. At the beginning of each interview, the women were asked to read and sign an informed consent form outlining the study and the nature of their participation in it. The consent form appears in Appendix B: After this was completed, the researcher oriented the woman to the topic of the interview, with particular attention to the time period spanning her initial contemplation of a leadership role, to the time she began to feel comfortable as a leader. Second, in order to sensitize the woman and assist her in accurately recalling her experience, she was helped to fill out a 'lifeline' for the designated period of time. The lifeline was constructed by drawing a line across a blank sheet of paper. The beginning and end were marked, respectively, by the woman's first thoughts of leadership and by the stabilization of her role as a leader in her organization. Subjective and objective events and experiences were then marked at different points along the continuum, in chronological order. Finally, the co-researcher was asked to tell her story of becoming a leader using the lifeline as a guide. Therole pf the researcher, after establishing rapport, was to facilitate the telling of the story through active listening, reflection, empathy, and some probing to ensure that a coherent and complete story of the woman's experience was obtained. These interviews were audio taped and transcribed. For an outline of the interview, see Appendix C. The Narrative Accounts. The narrative accounts were generated by synthesizing the information in the tapes and transcribed interviews. Since the interview did not necessarily proceed in a chronological format, the lifelines were used as a guide in the construction of the 33 narratives to provide an accurate context and correct order for the events and experiences described by each woman. The accounts were written from the point of view of the participants and used their words as much as possible. The aim of the narratives was to be both accurate and comprehensive, and to represent a coherent story of the process of becoming a leader as experienced by each individual woman. Narrative Account Review. The central concern regarding the narratives was to ensure that they were both accurate and reasonably complete representations of the women's experiences (Cochran, personal communication, Dec. 15, 1995). To ensure the soundness and trustworthiness of the accounts, the co-researchers reviewed their own narrative accounts for accuracy and were asked to make note of any distortion or neglect of their experience; Each participant was mailed a copy of her narrative account. Because the researcher and the participants were no longer within visiting distance from each other by the time of the narrative account review, these reviews were conducted by mail and over the phone. With the copy of their narratives the women also received a letter asking them to review their story and assess whether it accurately portrayed their experience as they intended to communicate in the interview and whether anything of significance was distorted or omitted. A copy of this letter appears in Appendix D. At this point they were also invited to edit any identifying information which they were not comfortable with including in the account. The changes were then discussed between the researcher and each participant over the phone. Suggested revisions and refinements were made and were returned to the participants when necessary. In all of the narrative accounts, pseudonyms were used to protect the identities of the participants. In two cases, the details of the women's professions and lives were altered to further preserve their anonymity. The fifth participant felt that the narrative was too revealing and that, as a whole, it did not completely represent her experience. This was discussed between the researcher and the participant and it was agreed that her narrative account would be converted into a basic chronology for the final research product to preserve 34 her sense of safety. It was also agreed that elements of her narrative would still be used to illustrate certain points of the analysis. Analysis Procedures. The analysis began with a deep examination of the narrative accounts. By staying with, dwelling on, and reflecting upon the exact words and experiences of each participant, the researcher sought to uncover the salient features and major elements characterizing the process of becoming a leader. This entailed many readings of the narratives to get in touch with the feeling and tone of each account. Notes were made in the margins of the narratives to try and capture the essence and meaning of experiences and transitions. The purpose of this stage was to identify significant changes from the beginning to the ends of the narratives, since these changes indicated the major thematic developments or movements characterizing the process of becoming a leader for each woman. These major movements or themes of development were then traced from the beginnings to the ends of the stories to get a sense of how these movements evolved and to identify a series of significant events and experiences that characterized the women's process of becoming leaders. These major movements and related events were then given a more abstract description, and unique details were put aside to better facilitate the discovery of those aspects of the experience common to all the women. Once the major movements and the manner in which they developed were identified for each woman and abstractly phrased, they were compared across the other narratives. Major thematic movements were tentatively grouped together and then referred back again to each individual narrative to check for accuracy. With each comparison, the thematic movements were revised and refined until the general patterns characterizing the process of becoming a leader emerged clearly. An ongoing discussion between the researcher and the professor in charge of this project further contributed to the refinement of these patterns. The crystallized pattern was identified when no other significant revisions Or additions were required. Although individual experiences had to be sacrificed, significant complexities and contradictions were incorporated into the descriptions of the thematic movements. The 35 general pattern, therefore, meshed harmoniously with each individual narrative while also illuminating the significant components of the process of becoming a leader. 36 Chapter 4 Lisa's Story Lisa is the partner in charge of management consulting in an international accounting and management consulting agency. She has been married for 20 years and has two grown stepsons. Three years ago Lisa's agency, which she coordinates with several other partners based in Toronto, split from a much larger accounting firm and formed a separate corporate structure Lisa had joined the original firm in 1977. Prior to the split Lisa had worked her way up through the company to become the eighth female partner in a 1,100 person partnership. She considers the process of becoming a leader or a manager to be comprised of two separate processes - one of actually getting to the level of a management position, then another of learning to survive as a manager. The split from the big company allowed Lisa to build upon the comfort she had achieved as a manager and allowed her to grow beyond the rigid confines of a large bureaucracy. For the last 3 years she has enjoyed both the support of the other divisions based in Toronto and the freedom of being able to independently determine her company's destiny. Lisa didn't consciously set out to become a competitive manager, but wonders if such tendencies haven't always been a part of.her. Even with her first summer job working in a visitors' bureau, Lisa was made manager by her second year. From then on she seemed to find herself regularly moving into decision making positions. It was a frustration for her in 1974, when she became a government project officer, to find herself totally under stimulated and unable to make decisions on her own. She felt held back by the bureaucracy and by the others she was working with, arid hated the feeling that she had no power to make things happen. She knew she would never last in that environment and got herself out at the first opportunity. Lisa began to work for XYZ, an international accounting and management consulting firm, on a part-time basis while she and her husband were living in England. She worked there 37 for a year as a research assistant while her husband completed a teaching exchange. When they returned to Canada it seemed natural for Lisa to join the firm as a full-time consultant. For the first little while Lisa took a fairly relaxed approach to her job. She was coming out of a series of management-type positions, so although she enjoyed the work she was doing, she also put it behind her at the end of every day. For the first few years she was with the firm, she felt like she was taking a bit of a time-out from the usual energy and responsibility she associated with work. Almost overnight however, Lisa's time-out ended. For the first time ever, she began working with her department's financial statements. She had never seen them before and she realized that the department wasn't doing as well as she had thought. She was intrigued, and felt that she wanted to help. It wasn't as if the department was losing money, but it was clear to Lisa that there were things they could do differently. There was a good group of people working there, but it was small and Lisa felt that there was a lot of potential for growth. Although no one was putting any pressure on her to make the department bigger, Lisa had personally decided that she wanted to have that impact. Thus, armed with a vested interest and a new sense of purpose, Lisa set her sights on attaining a management role and began to . invest more and more time and energy into her work. Not long after she decided that management was her goal, it seemed to happen. In 1984 she was made manager of the department and she set about building up the business in,the way she had envisioned. Becoming the department manager was a big shift for Lisa relative to her previous responsibilities and it presented her with a number of new learning experiences. Over the next 4 years she essentially had to learn what business and business management were all about. Her two main areas of responsibility as the new head of the department were the development of new business and the control of quality. Lisa was given very little direction or guidance and there was no prescribed role for her to fill as a manager of this department. She still reported to a partner who was in charge of her division, but he was very busy with other involvements. Lisa didn't feel much connection or support from the person who was managing the other half 38 of the division because their approaches were very different. He was quite content to just do the work and keep the department relatively small. As a result Lisa was free to fun the department pretty much as she wanted to, but was also free to make her own mistakes. In the first year of managing Lisa felt invincible, as though she could generate enough business for anyone, which led her into hiring too many people too fast. This wreaked havoc with her budgets and scared her a bit so the next year she went the other way, becoming really conservative and cracking down on any expenditures. These mistakes were part of her learning experience as she tried to develop a sense of balance and judgment when it came to making business decisions and monitoring her division's growth. As a manager, Lisa had to take into account the big picture and had to consider the impact that her actions or the actions of her eight staff members would have on the department. Almost instantaneously, Lisa had gone from having someone else review her work to being responsible for the work of others, This meant that she had a whole new range of responsibilities in terms of managing people-problems. For example, Lisa had difficulty at first determining how strongly she should wield her authority. She found that a huge part of her role as a manager seemed to be to listen to people's problems. While this wasn't an issue for her in itself, knowing the difficulties that people were having in their personal lives made her more inclined to be soft on them when their work was suffering. Her tendency was to give them an extra chance, and then an extra chance again, but after the first few times she did this Lisa discovered that a limit existed and that her staff lost respect for her if she was overly lenient. She had to learn to differentiate the business side of matters from the emotional side and make the business more of a priority. She knew there had to he a happy medium between being a push-over and being an autocrat. Eventually she found a balance that was comfortable for her and developed a technique of asking the person who was causing difficulties what they thought should be done about their situation. Usually, she found, they would suggest harsher punishments than any she would have suggested, which made her j ob that much easier. 39 Sometimes conflicts arose between people and Lisa did have to lay down the law and set boundaries with them about what was and was not appropriate behavior in the work environment. In one instance she had four people working for her who were all of very different religions and openly hated each other because of it. In another, she had an individual who made a habit of bullying another employee and she finally had to threaten to fire him in order to make him stop. She struggled with these situations when they arose, wondering what would be best to do and how strong a role she should take in dealing with them. It was a gradual learning experience. Each situation seemed to be different and it took a while to find a style that felt comfortable to her. Eventually, however, her authority began to feel more natural and her comfort at handling people grew. Some of Lisa's struggles were due to the fact that she was a female manager in a very male-dominated environment. Virtually every person Lisa worked with in the firm was male and it was difficult to convince many of the men below her that they should report to a woman. Most of them simply had little to no experience dealing with women in their workplace generally, and in particular with womenin positions of authority. Lisa didn't feel that their reluctance was personal. Nonetheless she was aware that she wasn't accorded the same sense of legitimacy or credibility as a leader as quickly as she might have been if she were a man. As she took on her role as manager Lisa also found herself facing the challenge of learning the firm's organizational politics. As an employee prior to her promotion she had not been privy to the dynamics that she could now see were going on around her. Neither had she been subject to the same threats. As in many big firms, people got ahead through competition with each other and some weren't above trying to further themselves by putting others down. Others set up situations so that events unfolded to their advantage. For the men she was working with these dynamics seemed to be a natural way of functioning. Lisa wondered if perhaps, as a woman, she hadn't been socialized to be used to intense competition and team oriented activities in the same way that they probably had been. She herself wasn't inclined to 40 function that way so she didn't understand the whole thing at first. It took her a while, in fact, to even recognize what was going on. Coming to terms with the organizational politics was a real learning curve for Lisa that seemed to her to be made up of three steps. First she had to recognize what was going on, then she had to learn how to keep out of it, and finally she wanted to figure out how to get involved in the game on her own terms. These were the most threatening years for Lisa. She had so much to learn and she had few supports in her work environment. She saw many people around her just making it past the junior management level who became sick or too stressed out to continue at work. There was so much time pressure. She felt off-balance most of the time, taking on things that she had never done before and just trying to get through it doing as best she could. Fortunately, she didn't have time to ruminate on many of her struggles It was also a decision making time for her. Did she want to do this work for a living? Did she want to be in this environment forever? At the same she was asking herself these questions, she found herself getting caught up in the energy of the competition to get ahead. Before long she found that she was just dying to be made a partner. As Lisa became more and more invested in her work, her hours and time at the office increased. The number of hours a person would be expected to work in a year at a normal business would be around 1,905, but while Lisa was managing her target hours were close to 4,000. Within her work environment this kind of time commitment was considered the norm, particularly for those who wanted to get ahead, but Lisa found it strange how little understanding she received about this outside of work. When work came up in a social setting, individuals and particularly other women would marvel at her commitment. Except for a handful of female friends who were also professionals, few people seemed to understand the sense of purpose she felt about her work or why she was willing to spend such long hours at the office. For her it was automatic. She doubted that the men she worked with were ever asked such questions. It was just assumed that they would give many hours to their work. Lisa's husband, fortunately, was one of the people who understood her involvement. He had a 41 more flexible job than she, he was willing to pick up the slack at home to make it possible for Lisa to do what she needed to do. They negotiated their lifestyles on an on-going basis and his support was one of the things that enabled Lisa to give so much of herself to her career. In order to establish more credibility in the firm, Lisa began to seek out some . additional formal education. She had a bachelor of arts degree and a good deal of industry experience so was actually very well suited for the work she was doing, but in the eyes of the accounting world Lisa was undereducated. She didn't have the time to do an MBA so she became involved in a lot of small programs and management training courses. Her main motivation for taldng these on was to attain some credentials that would hold up in her environment (she had enough experience already to know about budgeting and other basic management skills), but nonetheless Lisa found the courses very interesting. They brought a lot of important management issues to her attention and provided her with some extra feedback about whether or not her gut instincts were right. It felt really good to discuss her experiences with other people in similar situations and she discovered that they shared many of the same problems and challenges. It also boosted her confidence to have these credentials under her belt. As Lisa strove to build up her department, she began to feel strongly that marketing played a crucial role in bringing in new business. Unfortunately, accounting firms were not traditionally marketing oriented, and previous heads of her department had not considered marketing to be very important. As a result, most of the men with whom Lisa worked did not share her perspective. She found that she was writing more proposals in a month than they tended to write in a year. Lisa had known for a while that she had some ideas about her work that represented a very different approach from the others around her. While she had been just an employee this hadn't bothered her but now that she was managing she wanted to have a little more support. She tried to orient them to this new way of thinking but did not meet with much success. In discussions with the firm's managing partner, he let her know that he couldn't comprehend why she didn't just get down and do some work instead of always 42 wasting her time out there marketing. No one around her seemed to share her priorities or understand what she was trying to do. She felt like a square peg trying to fit into the round hole, and it was beginning to feel increasingly frustrating. Because she was doing a different kind of work than most of the people in the accounting firm, there was nobody available to Lisa who could act as a mentor for her. Professionally she was very isolated. There were a few firms in the city which did the kind of work that she did, but she was prevented from reaching out and connecting with them by the attitude of the firm. The firm was very structured and traditional. The work was seasonal and was the same year after year. To those who ran the firm, other firms were the competition, and definitely not potential friends. Since she couldn't reach outside the firm and she had no real peers inside, Lisa had no way of knowing how well she was doing. She could only share financial statements with the accounting managers and although she generally far outperformed them it didn't completely satisfy her. It was like comparing apples to oranges because they weren't doing the same kind of work. She made an effort to go to meetings of various business associations to hear what other people's experiences were, but was disappointed to find that their problems weren't really the same as hers either. As a result Lisa knew nobody who ran a business like she did, and much as she would have liked to, she had no one with whom she could meet to discuss issues and talk over problems. She still saw herself as part of the firm's big bureaucracy, but at the same time she knew that she didn't really fit. It made a big difference to Lisa's own sense of success when she began to receive some recognition from the industry with which she worked. It was gratifying to see that news of the work she was doing had spread. She was invited to speak at very major engagements around the city and was interviewed for newspaper articles. This development had an impact for Lisa within the firm as well. Once she began to get this outside recognition, her superiors began to show some interest in her too. When she first became a manager she had assumed they would see automatically when she had a success, but in a firm as large as hers people 43 were too busy in their own little worlds to notice what was going on with others. She had not yet begun to frame her successes and relay news of them back to her superiors in a way they could understand. If she had been a manager on the accounting side this problem would probably not have been as exaggerated because there were rewards built into the system which resulted in regular recognition for young managers. However, because Lisa's work was atypical, there was no other concrete way for her to be rewarded by her superiors unless they made her a partner. Three years after she had been appointed the departmental head, Lisa began to feel that she was really comfortable in her role as manager. She had gone through the 3 years feeling like she had small failures often but overall she felt her efforts were a success. When she had taken on the job her department was earning $150,000 and it was now earning $800,000. She had attained some necessary formal education about running a business; had learned a great deal about the role of marketing; and had developed some important human resources skills. Most importantly, she now had something of a proven track record and as a result had much more confidence in her ability to make the right decisions. She no longer felt like she was winging it. Her success had first been confirmed by the industry recognition she had received and then finally by some internal interest within the firm. However, it felt as though some things were missing still for Lisa. She didn't have access to the kind of recognition and support she would have liked, and she still felt she didn't quite fit or belong to the community of the accounting firm. The more Lisa became comfortable in her position as manager and the more she craved recognition for her accomplishments, the more she began to look at becoming a partner as her major goal. It had been her over-riding motivation for some time now, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that being appointed partner was the only way she could get some type of concrete confirmation that she had made it in the world of her firm. She had built up the business just as she had hoped she would and had been managing for several years now. Being made a partner looked like the logical next step. Lisa wasn't the only one who had 44 set her sights on becoming a partner. In large accounting firms such as hers, people put in longer and even longer hours as they moved up through the ranks. The time pressure and responsibilities mounted but there was no extra pay. They worked harder and harder, motivated by the hope that they might reach their goal of being made a partner. The system was structured to pit people against each other, and as the pressure and time and stress built up the competition became more fierce. The investment didn't always pay off. Lisa watched many accounting managers who banked several years of those kinds of hours never achieve their goal. About 90% of them were never made partners. In particular, it seemed to be the female managers who dropped out of the race. Of the women she observed, only one actually went on to be made a partner. Lisa watched about 100 others drop out and take on what seemed like lesser work. Conflicts between work and family due to the enormous time commitment coupled with the dynamics of being female in a male dominated work world seemed to be responsible for most of their departures. The one woman who had made it to partnership was a couple of years ahead of her and Lisa could see her struggling through many difficulties. As she watched her Lisa could see that the typical sexist phenomena were being played out. When someone was being considered for a partnership, the partners of the firm would deliberate about them a year or two ahead, assessing their potential as a candidate and whether they were ready to receive the promotion. Before Lisa herself was interviewed for her partnership, she heard from one or two of the other partners (who had begun to feel badly about this), that when this woman's turn was coming up they waited 3 years longer to interview her because they thought she might start a family. For 3 extra years this woman put in the hours and paid the costs of someone working towards partnership. When they finally did interview her, they asked her straight out whether she was planning to have a family. She must have had an inkling as to what was going on because she told them that no, she wasn't. Lisa was disgusted to find out that this answer made a difference to them in terms of selecting her as a partner. The next year this woman did in fact have a child, but she took absolutely no 45 time off work. The day she had her baby she had someone bring some tax files over to the hospital. Thus it was obvious to Lisa that, even though it was technically against the law, there was a strong pressure to conform to the masculine norms and priorities that governed the culture of the firm, and being a woman played against one in the selection process for becoming a partner. When Lisa herself was interviewed for partnership, she was asked directly whether or not she had plans to have a family. As it happened she didn't, but she was incensed that she was even asked the question. She was pretty sure that it would never have been asked of one of the guys. She wondered if she had been putting in extra years while they waited to see if she was going to have children. She would never know whether, if she had been a man, she would have been made a partner in '86 rather than 2 years later in '88. Shortly before Lisa's name was due to come up for partnership, the partner to whom she reported who was also a good friend, wrote her a long letter explaining why, if he were her, he would reconsider her desire to become a partner. His main concern centered on the permanence of a position in a big partnership. Once an individual became a partner it was virtually impossible to get out of that arrangement. He wondered if this was really the environment where Lisa wanted to spend the rest of her working life. He urged her to look at other options. Lisa certainly had other options she could have considered. The previous year, she had been on a personal trip in Asia when the accounting partner in the Singapore office offered her a position at a fabulous salary. Lisa liked Singapore but was not convinced it was right for her and didn't pick up on it. She could also have left the firm and easily joined one of the other big accounting firms. This would have allowed her to go in with more immediate status and clout. Many other young managers made this move because it gave them the chance to shake their youth and enter an environment where their early foibles and struggles were unknown. With his letter, her friend was giving her a chance to consider whether the direction she was taking was really and truly right for her, but Lisa wasn't ready to let go of her goal. She was caught up in the competition and she wanted that recognition, that charge of adrenaline that came with being told, "you've made it." 46 On the day that Lisa became a partner she had an appointment with a psychologist from Chicago, brought in by the firm to do some self-development projects with the employees He was to provide personality assessments and discuss with them their inclinations and abilities. Lisa was interested in this sort of thing and had been looking forward to hearing what he had to say. One of the first questions he asked upon discussing her new status as a partner was, "so what are your goals now?" Lisa was feeling tired from being up all night working on a project, but the question stunned her. She realized that she had absolutely no idea. She had become so focused and worked so hard trying to become a partner all these years and now here it was. She felt somewhat lost. From a practical perspective, it was a bit of a let-down because it really didn't change anything. In another sense she knew that everything had changed. By becoming a partner she had invested capital and essentially made a long-term commitment to the firm. The firm likened the commitment of partnership to that of a marriage. Because of the financial investments and the partnership agreement, partners were essentially bound to the people of the company until retirement, which was the first time they could get their money out at an affordable tax rate. It would be extremely onerous for her to get out any earlier. However, other than the commitment and the potential tb earn more money in a good year, Lisa's day to day work situation looked much the same, with the same people and the same concerns. In one sense she hadmade it. She had achieved her goal and conquered her biggest challenge, but now she realized that she hadn't given any further thought to what would come next. Lisa found that it was very difficult to be one of two female partners in a large partnership. The local partnership, to which she belonged, had 23 partners in all. She often observed the men tease the other female partner. They would kid her about shopping and make silly but belittling jokes to her. Lisa heard the same comments over and over again and would get extremely frustrated on the other woman's behalf, who tended just to accept it. Several times she became so fed up that she told them she didn't appreciate them speaking to the other woman that way. They would stop for a while. As a woman it was hard to feel 47 included in the old boys' network that made up most of the firm Lisa felt ambivalent about this. On the one hand it was easy to see that it was important to belong to the network for business reasons and she didn't like being on the outside, but on the other hand she wasn't always sure that she wanted to be part of it. She either had to try and break in and become part of that network or she had to find something to replace it. Lisa tried to do a little of both. She built up her own relationships with her clients and also tried to do activities with the whole group. She wasn't an avid golfer but she golfed a little, so when the firm had a golf event she invited clients and participated herself. The choice whether or not to participate was important to her, and it was very hard when she found herself from time to time being excluded from the group without that option. On one such occasion, the firm was sent an invitation from a client to a fishing party on a boat. Lisa's name was on the invitation because it was one of her clients who was holding the event. She had brought the client, a bank, into the firm and over the last several years the firm had received several hundred thousand dollars worth of business from them. Lisa was away when the invitation came so it was forwarded to the general partner. He invited several other male partners to go but told Lisa nothing about it. Two weeks later one of the individuals from the bank called Lisa to see why she hadn't been able to come. It was the first she had heard about it and she was furious. She confronted the general partner, saying, "look, so what happened here? I was invited - you took my invitation and you guys went. What am I supposed to say to these guys when they call me?". A couple of her colleagues were standing there, and they basically said, "well, it was a fishing thing, it was for men!" Lisa was really, really put out. On the surface it seemed such a small thing but to her it represented so much more. It was the assumptions they had made which most irritated her. They had assumed that she wouldn't want to go to such an event as this or that she wouldn't fit in if she did go. They took away her choice to decide whether or not it was something in which she wanted to participate. A month later when Lisa was up in Tofino she met some people she knew. They had just caught an absolutely enormous salmon and let Lisa have her picture taken, as proud 48 as could be, with the 60 pound fish. She had the photo blown up and framed, and placed it on her credenza at work. One by one she watched the men come in, especially those who had been involved in this incident, and notice this picture: No one said a word to her but in her heart Lisa knew that they got the message, and would perhaps think twice before assuming again that she did not or would not belong to their social network. Lisa's frustration with the rigid bureaucratic structure of the organization continued to grow. It was obvious that she was still working according to a completely different agenda and set of priorities than everyone else in the firm. Instead of making things better, becoming a partner only seemed to emphasize her feeling that she was different. She found that the 21 accounting partners, all men in their forties and fifties, seemed to share a particular mind-set. She found it torturous to sit through the three hour partners meetings, wondering if they were ever going to start talking about something important. Professionally, she was still very isolated. Shortly before Lisa had been appointed to partnership, the partner she reported to moved to Hong Kong and Lisa was left to absorb all of his responsibilities. Lisa's own workload managing half of the consulting group was already plenty for one person to handle. Over the last four years she had gone from four to thirteen staff and was dealing with a lot more in terms of time commitment, so the resulting workload after his departure was ridiculously huge: The next few months were pure hell. He had left rather suddenly so for the first month Lisa had to attend to all his regular appointments as well as her own. There were times when she had two meetings going on at the same time, and had to switch back and forth from board room to board room. It was immensely stressful and she felt terrible about treating clients this way. She couldn't tell them what was going on so she had to pop in to one meeting then make an excuse so that she could pop in to the other one. Nonetheless, she had no choice but to just get through it because she couldn't get out of it. Lisa worked extremely long hours for the next 5 or 6 months. Once she became a partner she also had the additional duties of reporting to the partnership on a regular basis. After she had been a partner for about a year, 49 Lisa reached a point when she knew things could not continue the way they were. She was way over stressed and had too much on her plate. She often worked until midnight, and several times had even slept in the office. She had a toothbrush and towel at work, and finally she actually bought a hide-a-bed and moved it into her office, knowing as she did so that this was not a good sign. She had to figure but some way to deal with this incredible time pressure. She decided she had to do things differently. She simply had to be different. She had watched many people at her level have mental break-downs or have to go off on medical leave, so she made the decision that she was going to take charge of her situation. She went away by herself to a resort for a weekend to strategize. For 2 days she sat with a piece of paper in front of her and hypothesized, "what if I did this? or this? What ifi delegated this? How might I do that?" Since she was now a partner, leaving the company wasn't an option. At this point Lisa still believed that she would be with the firm until she retired. She wondered how she might involve the other partners in her part of the business more. Her division was going through a large volume of work and it was very profitable but she needed someone else to relieve her of some responsibility. She was tired of trying to carry the whole consulting side of the business completely on her own. The first thing Lisa decided was that she needed to find some healthy way to process all of the stress she was experiencing. She had always had a lot of exercise and had been very into sports and dancing and other activities but as the time pressure from work had built up she had stopped doing them. She saw getting physical exercise as her key to getting some sense of personal control back again. She started playing tennis again and initiated several other activities. Whenever she had a really bad day she called up her husband to book a tennis time. Even if it meant they had to play at 10:00 at night she knew she would feel better if she got the chance to pour her excess stress into hammering some little tennis balls. The second thing Lisa did when she came back from her weekend was to arrange a meeting with the other partners and try to address her need for more support directly. "Look you guys," she said, "Lam on my own here. You are not on your own, but I am on my own. 50 This is how I feel. It may not be right, but I want you to work with me. I don't have any guidance from you guys and I don't have any direct support, as much as you might support me indirectly." One of her ideas was to go out and search for a person who had been trained somewhere else but could come in as a partner to work with her. This was not an option in their minds. Lisa was frustrated with their reluctance to reach out into the private sector, but she could also see that bringing in someone new might threaten the loyalty and longevity philosophy that governed the partnership. That left option B, which was to find ways to cut down Lisa's time and stress and give her more support. To Lisa the initial outcome seemed very positive. They actually went away together as a group and looked at how they could work with her. She felt she was in the driver's seat. She had been clear with them about her struggles and she was trying to correct what wasn't right. Out of their meeting they determined that they were all going to work a lot more closely together. It sounded good on paper and in those meetings but unfortunately the outcome was less positive. Again, because they weren't marketing oriented and Lisa was, they wanted her to organize a series of speeches and seminars and lunches so that they could get more involved in her industry. Their help wound up by being finding ways to get closer to Lisa by getting her to generate more business for them. This was not necessarily wrong from a business perspective, but Lisa soon realized that the result was more stressful for her rather than less. It wasn't really what she had intended by asking for more support. Their discussions had, in a way, opened things up more. Lisa now made a point of going down and talking to them more often if she had a problem, asking them what they would do about it. However, this outcome mostly confirmed for her that her situation was very different from theirs and that she was going to have to find what she needed elsewhere. With this realization, Lisa started looking outside her local partnership to the other offices in search of a support network. First she started connecting with the consulting people in the Toronto partnership. Happily she found that they shared similar concerns and ideas. Then she arranged for all of them to fly down to the States for a few days and spend some 51 time with the partners there. They had meetings in the hotel boardroom for days and discussed how each did things. It was beneficial to all of them. Lisa felt this move was a big shift in terms of taking control of her situation. She was finally getting the kind of support that had been lacking. She no longer felt alone in her approach and ideas, and this validation allowed her to feel much more comfortable and professional in the way she went about her work. Two years after Lisa had been made a partner, the firm began to go through some major reorganizations. It went though at least five mergers in a fairly short period of time and they all had to adjust to new partners coming in and the difficulties of combining new practices and personalities. The firm was growing. Finally it was decided that the firm nationally would merge. All of the collective offices that had financial separation were going to become one big partnership. In her local partnership, the partners wanted to make themselves look good going in. Lisa was asked to do things that she felt were unethical in terms of making the partnership look good financially. She objected strongly and great arguments and discussions ensued, but she was the only opposing person in this process. She realized that, in a firm of that size, if you didn't agree with everybody else then there wasn't much you could do - she was just outvoted. She began to feel really turned off the big firm. The new reorganized firm didn't have very strong national management so the following year another merger was planned to take them into yet another structure. New management would come in and the company name would also be changed. For Lisa this was unacceptable. The company name had been recognized all over the world in her industry for over 80 years, and as she had just spent the last 13 years building it up further she did not want to leave it now. At this point Lisa and the Toronto consultants negotiated a strategy. Their division would keep the name for a year and if at the end of that year they chose to leave the firm they could continue to keep the name. However, if they chose to stay, like the accounting people, they would have to give it up. Although Lisa had not yet consciously admitted to herself that she wanted out, when the chance came for her to separate from the big firm without all of the penalty clauses that usually accompanied leaving a partnership she 52 jumped at it. From that day on she was clear that she wanted to separate out. She had been through enough with the big firm to know that their priorities and methods were too different to be of any value to her. The partners in Toronto were not quite as sure as Lisa. Together they went through much debate. However, as they went through long meetings with the national partners it became clear to them as well that separating was the right thing to do; The big firm simply didn't share the focus on the industry which was their main business. They had spent hours in partners' meetings talking about general business consulting and realized that to stay with the big firm would mean focusing a great deal of their time and energy on matters that had nothing to do with them. None of them could see themselves improving widget makers for the rest of their lives. If her Toronto partners hadn't agreed to leave with her, Lisa knew she would have found her way out of the firm in some other way. She had recognized that she was never going to get what she needed from her current situation and she had decided that it had to change. When the initial agreement was made, Lisa, the Toronto partners, and the national partners predetermined the terms of how they would actually leave if they decided to do so. As a result their actual departure should have been smooth and fairly non-threatening, but Lisa found it to be exactly the opposite. Once it was known that they were actually leaving there was a very nasty feeling in the office. It was an instantaneous thing. Her decision to go wasn't causing them any direct financial impact, but people in the firm acted as though Lisa had betrayed or rejected them somehow. All of these people who she had worked with and known personally and thought she had a good relationship with for so many years suddenly weren't nice anymore. She found it very strange and difficult to handle It was very disillusioning, after all this talk of partnerships and loyalty and "marriage," to find that people were acting as though they had never had any relationship with her. All of that idealistic imagery just wasn't true and had never really been true. It was just business and she was just supposed to just close her mind to it. 53 She had always had some difficulty with the less caring side of business. Over the years she had watched people come and go. She remembered being surprised when the bankruptcy department closed and the day people left nobody did anything about it. She personally had had different people involved in her business over the years but she had always stayed in touch with them once they had moved on. She considered it an ongoing relationship whether the person was still working with her or not. In the accounting world anyone who wasn't in was out, and Lisa had just passed the strict barrier between being a colleague and being the competition. She tried not to take this cut off personally but found it very unpleasant. The experience was worsened when the firm began to get very protective in an effort to keep some of Lisa's business. Even though the predetermined negotiations had stated that all of Lisa's staff and management were to leave with them, the firm made a pitch to one of Lisa's managers 2 weeks before she left and convinced him to stay. He had signed an agreement saying that he was gping to come in as a partner with Lisa and the Toronto people and so he had had access to all their budgets and financial statements. Lisa had several discussions with a lawyer about whether she should sue them or not, but in the end she decided it just wasn't worth it. She wasn't going to be able to undo what had been done anyway. This time was very difficult for Lisa personally as well. During the 6 months before she left the firm, Lisa's mother developed breast cancer that went to the brain. Lisa was trying to wrap up the business and be at the hospital every night to be with her mother. In the last month of her mother's life she had to find new office premises and arrange all the details of their move in between calls from the hospital telling her that her mother was dying. Life was so frantic and so stressful that she could hardly remember those months afterwards. In the middle of August her mother passed away and Lisa arranged her funeral. Her stepson was getting married the following weekend so she managed to attend that. She thought about several other partners who had lost their mothers in recent years and while it was wearing for them, she hadn't seen them as involved as she felt she had to be. Their wives had taken care of 54 things, even though it hadn't been their mothers, while with her mother Lisa felt she had to be at the hospital all the time. Despite her difficulties, Lisa was unshaken in her confidence that they had made the right decision by leaving the firm. They now had a choice. What kind of firm did they want to create? Did they want to create another partnership and try to just get bigger? They had lots of opportunities. One option for Lisa was to work independently. She knew that people knew her name almost as well as the company name since she had been in the business so long, but she wasn't really comfortable with the idea of going it completely alone. She didn't have enough faith at that point that she could run a really strong business on her own. She was confident that she would be able to generate the necessary volume of work, but she didn't have any experience in a lot of other business related things. By remaining with the other partners in Toronto, she felt she had access to all the expertise she needed. She knew that when she didn't understand something one of them was likely to understand. Another option they had to consider seriously was that of merging with another large firm. They were flattered to find that they received direct pitches from about five or six accounting firms who wanted them to join. Their name was so well known that they could have commanded some very good money by making this choice but in the end they had no trouble deciding against it. If they joined another firm they would have found themselves right back in the same situation. "No thank-you," they finally decided," we are going to do things differently." They decided to set up a new corporation. As Lisa and her three Toronto partners were planning the birth of their organization, they got together to assess the personal skills and resources each was bringing to this endeavor. They were very open about what they thought of each other and of their areas of expertise. This was a very positive experience for Lisa. They sat down and laid it on the table, asking the question, "who would be good at what and how should we divide up these roles?" What was exciting to Lisa was that their conclusions were unanimous. They all recognized the same things in each other and each person's individual skill was easily identified. She was the ) 55 strategic one, the one who was skilled at anticipating how others would think and react to their actions. Another fellow was good at strategizing in a different sense, then another was skilled at assessing the financial implications of what they were doing The division of labor seemed to happen naturally. It was very rewarding to Lisa to finally get such clear and positive feedback. It was so nice to finally have someone say, "you are very good at this, and you are obviously the person who should handle this." While she had been at the old firm there had been no one who was doing the same work she was doing. She had never heard anyone say," this is your area of strength," so it had been hard to see or fully appreciate those areas of strength in herself Starting up a corporation and a new business had its own stresses and challenges Unfortunately when Lisa left the big firm she had to leave behind her phone number. She let as many people as she could know that she was now working in a new setting, but of course not everybody could be contacted. When people called to ask for her at her old number they were simply told that she had left the firm. Thus initially some of her clients converted oyer to the old firm. Many of these people were very annoyed to find out later that she was actually still in business. With time, however, she got most of that business back. When they first set up the new corporation, there seemed to be a dozen new things every day that they hadn't purchased or organized - things that Lisa had never had to deal with before. They had to experiment with systems and ordering and such things, trying to find out what worked best for them. Lisa had to set up an accounting system for the firm, and suddenly there was data entry to do and bi-weekly time reports and other things which seemed to take up so much extra time to make sure everything was going right. It was interesting but also a hard transition for Lisa. She had to down-size her operation a little. She had already lost the one individual to the old firm and by coincidence some others of her staff had to leave. All the new set-up tasks coupled with fewer people meant that she was back into a major time commitment again. She stayed small though because she and her Toronto partners could see that the recession was coming and no one was sure what was going to happen. 56 A great light went on for Lisa when, after about a year, she realized that she was making almost the same amount of money with half the staff that she'd had before. Her costs at the new location were much less than they had been in the old firm. She had always suspected that the costs her division had been allocated, for floor space, rent, supplies and so on, were much higher than they should have been but nobody had ever listened to her and she hadn't been able to prove it: Now they were only paying for what they actually used and their costs had dropped to a third. She was free from the whole bureaucracy of the big firm that had required her department to cover a share of the fee for young accountant training programs and other projects that were of no direct benefit to them. It was a positive eye-opener. Lisa began to rethink her earlier philosophy that bigger was better. If there were 20 jobs on the go, then as a manager or partner, she had 20 jobs to review. If there were 10 jobs then that cut her job in half, leaving her time for other things In her earlier days, she had created a large division and it had been very successful, but with it had come all of the problems associated with managing more people and having too much work and not enough time. Being smaller meant a much nicer lifestyle for Lisa. Lisa was also happy to be free from the political culture of the big firm. She no longer had to worry about what other people, who didn't really share her perspective anyway, thought of her ideas and decisions. She was also happy to be rid of the competitive environment in favor of setting a more cooperative precedent in her new work setting. Although she had to admit that she certainly got into it for a while, the competitive atmosphere of the old firm had never really appealed to her. Once she had conquered it, she was free to see that she didn't really value it. Just because she had eventually been able to get into the game didn't mean that now she was necessarily going to set up the same game. Lisa had now developed personal goals that were much more important to her than any goals which were generated out of that competition framework. She was enjoying actually having a personal life for the first time in a long time. She still put in lots of hours but now she had more choice and control around that, and she could also choose to take more time off. 57 This would never have been possible in the old firm where all that mattered was how many chargeable hours she had collected at the end of the year. As she gave up her "bigger is better" philosophy, Lisa began to realize that she got a lot of intrinsic satisfaction out of the work itself. Their business was project work, so every situation was different and there was a lot of personal satisfaction in knowing the people and doing the work, and getting recognition that way. Lisa decided to give up trying to be bigger and in recent years she is not trying to be anything in particular really. For her it is now the work itself that is enjoyable and rewarding. Lisa finds that she now has a much greater sense of comfort and legitimacy as a leader. She no longer second guesses everything that happens and doesn't get as emotionally wrapped up in work events as she once did. She has enough history and experience to see which ups and downs of business are normal and which are cause for concern. She has the comfort of knowing that when she talks people will listen because she has a track record over many years of decisions that were right. As a result she can speak with more authority and is not so tentative about asserting her opinion. Part of this confidence in herself came from finally having a context with which to judge her performance and the knowledge that she is doing well. Until she collaborated with the partnership in Toronto, Lisa had found no one with whom she could compare financial statements. She had no recognition for the work that she did and was always sweating it, thinking, "I've got to do better." When she finally connected with consultants in Toronto and in the States, she saw that often she was generating a larger volume of business than others. Now when she has a really good month she can have the satisfaction of seeing it reflected back to her in black and white. Lisa feels that if she went back now to the beginning of her story she would be a much better manager. However, she can also see that she needed to make the mistakes that she did and master the goals that she set for herself in order to be able to gain the skills and perspective that she now possesses. Lisa is now in a work environment that suits her much better. She finds working cooperatively instead of competitively with others to be much more positive and productive. These days she can see that if she had chosen to go out on her own she would have been 58 okay, but she doesn't regret the choice she made. She gets exactly the right amount of support and the right amount of independence from her current situation. There is a certain level of relaxation and confidence that comes from knowing that their support is there when she needs it. Recently she was worried about one of her staff people, so she called up the Toronto office and had a long talk with one of the partners. She felt good when she got off the phone because that was just the support she needed. Most importantly, it has been exhilarating for Lisa to finally be out of the very structured male environment of the accounting world which had come to feel so restricting. Even though Lisa can see that she is certainly still in a predominantly male field (recently she was at a conference where she was one woman in a room of 500 men), the greater issue seems to be that she has the independence now to freely determine her company's destiny and the power to do so in the way she feels is best. 59 Chapter 5 Lynne's Story Lynne is a 45 year old lawyer who has owned her own law firm for almost 5 years. She has been married for over 20 years and she and her husband have two children. Five years ago her husband left his job to care for their children full-time, so Lynne provides their family's sole income. Lynne has just in the last few years begun to feel some stability and comfort in her role as the head of her firm. This sense of comfort has come as she has developed a stronger sense of her own competence and with the continued survival and growth of her firm. Before she went out on her own, Lynne tried for many years to work things out in the firm she had first joined as an articling student 13 years previously. She and the partners of the firm could never see eye to eye as to how a firm should be managed. Eventually Lynne realized that, although it felt like a big risk, starting her own firm was the only option that would allow her to freely pursue her vision of how a law firm should and could be run. Lynne did not originally seek to go into law. She received her undergraduate degree in history, thinking that perhaps she would like to become a translator, since she loved languages and travel. After completing her first degree Lynne was married and started working for the Federal Government in a small northern town. Soon her husband was transferred back to Vancouver, and Lynne continued her work on the government program. She found working in a government setting extremely frustrating. It was obvious to her that she didn't fit in. While Others were putting in overtime, she accomplished what needed to be done by noon and then was forced to sit around twiddling her thumbs or reading a book to fill time. She absolutely hated it and became concerned that her good work habits would deteriorate if she allowed such a little bit of work to expand to fill up her days. Despite the misery of this experience, the lack of fulfillment and challenge in her government job prompted Lynne to think about what she really wanted to do. She sat down to analyze what it would take for her to be satisfied 60 with a job and compiled an initial list of characteristics. She decided it was important to her to be able to work in an environment where she would not be held back by others, she could be responsible for her own work, and be around other people who shared her efficiency and her enthusiasm. These requirements seemed to Lynne to point towards a professional type of career. Lynne started looking into law because her father, a businessman, had always told her that if he had gone to university he would have studied law. So, more or less to please him and secure in the knowledge that she had no interest in medicine, Lynne met with some female lawyers to try to get a sense of what it would be like to be in this field. It seemed interesting enough, but Lynne didn't feel really committed to it. She took thei law school admission test and did well, so she entered into first year law school with the idea that she would give it a try but she wasn't necessarily going to carry on. Lynne loved the academics and learning in law school, but still wasn't particularly captured by the practice of law. She continued to feel very non-committal right up until her graduation and beyond. When it became necessary for the law students to find a firm with whom to article, Lynne had a very difficult time. She was a little older than some of the other students but she was willing to work either downtown or in the suburbs, which was closer to where she and her husband had their home. She was turned down many times and finally it dawned on her that she was being turned away because she was female. She was devastated. This was the first experience in which she was forced to recognize that prejudice was operating. She had never liked the old excuses that being female or being a ihinority interfered with one's ability to participate or achieve in the workplace. Lynne had always firmly believed that if you studied harder and excelled and demonstrated excellent work habits, then the light would shine through and others would recognize those abilities and potential. What was most frustrating for her was that she was being discriminated against based on characteristics she could not control. She couldn't be smarter, she couldn't be better, she couldn't look better or 61 be more smartly dressed. All her hard work and accomplishments and abilities were getting her nowhere. There was nothing she could do to change the reason she was not getting hired. At the end of the interviewing period a friend of Lynne's mentioned that she was going out for an articling interview with a firm and asked Lynne if she would give her a drive. Lynne consented and decided she would have an interview herself while she was there. The three partners in the firm had never hired an articling student before, but one of the lawyers recognized a reference on Lynne's resume as an old friend of his wife. He contacted the woman, who had worked with Lynne for a short while just after Lynne had finished her undergraduate degree. On the basis of this connection the partners decided to offer her a position with their firm Lynne felt very frustrated again. Her sense of achievement at obtaining an articling position was undermined by her perception that she had been given the position because of a fluke. They had awarded her the job because the lawyer had known one of her references rather than out of recognition of her skills and abilities. Again, the unfolding of events seemed to have nothing to do with her and seemed to be beyond her control. At the same time Lynne was grateful to finally have found an articling position. The partners of the firm were very sexist and traditional, and Lynne recognized how out of characterit was for them to take on a student at all, let alone a female student. They were more accustomed to hiring young bosomy women to work the reception and had no real concept of a female lawyer, so Lynne represented something of a new entity to them. For the first few years Lynne felt herself to be an Outsider with the partners of the firm. She could see that they were honest, straightforward lawyers and she was pleased to be associated with a firm that practised good law, but they were also a rough and ready crowd of drinkers and womanizers. Lynne was sure she didn't want to be included in their carryings on, but at the same time she wished she could feel part of the group. She found it awkward to be excluded. The partners of the firm did not seem to have any plans or expectations for Lynne in terms of her training. It was left tb her to ask questions concerning the work she was learning to do, but since at first she didn't really know what she was doing it was hard to know what 62 questions she should be asking. On the other hand it was a small office and she was responsible for a lot of "real work" right from the very beginning. Eventually it was the members of the support staff who became Lynne's primary source of information and support. It was automatic for her to say 'please' or 'thank-you' when asking them to do any work for her, but the staff were really pleased by this because it was new to them They appreciated being treated respectfully and soon they began to point things out for her that she had missed or had yet to learn. Before long she had developed strong connections with the support staff that she could rely on to provide her with much of the guidance and learning that she had expected to receive from her superiors, and she gained a much more thorough understanding of the practicalities of law practice than she might have otherwise. After she finished her articling year and had become a lawyer Lynne continued working for the firm. In that year and the 2 years that followed Lynne had a very general practice and experimented with a variety of legal responsibilities. Others who knew her had suggested that she would really like criminal law and she had hoped to find it interesting, but was disappointed to find that the trial process just seemed like a big charade to her. She hated the theatrics and the posturing that were required, and the whole process seemed to waste so much time. She found herself wishing that her clients would plead guilty so that there would be fewer criminals on the street. It didn't feel purposeful or productive and it didn't seem real. Trial law had been her stereotype of what a lawyer did and it was what she had always seen herself doing. Once it became obvious that she didn't have the skill or the interest to do trial work as expected, Lynne felt lost again. She still hadn't found work that she could be passionate about. During this period T., one of the partners of the firm, opened another office. Since he liked to do court work, he asked Lynne if she would take on the role of solicitor at the new location. "Oh God, how dull!" was Lynne's original thought, but the new office was closer to home and Lynne liked working with T. so she agreed to join him, hoping she could tolerate the work. To Lynne's surprise she found solicitor's work far from tedious or boring. In fact it 63 really suited her, and within the year sherealized that she loved it. It was positive and productive work that allowed her to work cooperatively with people in a solution-oriented fashion. It involved building relationships with others instead of arguing over contentious issues and cutting other people down. Whether people were buying a business or entering into a lease, or even handling "unpleasant" tasks like the distribution of an estate, Lynne felt she was helping clients achieve their goals. She had never found that she fif in with other, stereotypical, lawyers very much, and with soliciting she didn't have to try because it allowed her to work very independently. The drafting of contracts and documents tapped into her skill with language and she began to be deeply interested in the use of plain language instead of legalese. She was fascinated by the challenge of using words in a positive and meaningful way that tapped into the essence of the issues being addressed. The work also appealed to Lynne's love of efficiency, in that she could finish an agreement with a client within a week or two and then she was free to move on to the next thing. On all counts, the work of a solicitor was perfectly suited to Lynne's skills and interests and began to tap into the passion and energy she always knew she could bring to a career. Lynne did less and less work at the old office location and developed her comfort level with this new type of law. Within a few years she was doing solicitor's work at the new office almost all of the time. Again Lynne relied tremendously on the support staff for guidance on how she should do things. She didn't have any peers with whom she could compare her situation, so Lynne had developed no expectations about what her relationships with the senior staff should provide her. T and a few others did occasionally let her know what some of her major responsibilities were but for the rest of the time Lynne had to feel her way, researching previous cases and asking a lot of questions to find out how she should proceed with each new situation. Looking back, Lynne is frustrated that there was never any discussion or awareness of the law practice as a business. At the time, she had no way of consciously knowing what was missing but she found her situation difficult nonetheless. The partners of the firm were of the 64 old school philosophy that if you made money, then great, it was divided up, and if you didn't make money than you hoped to do better the next year. There was no conscious management of the firm in terms of its profitability or billing requirements. Unlike with the big downtown firms, Lynne was never told how much the partners would have liked her to bill or how many hours they expected her to bill every week. Therefore, in one sense Lynne was free from the pressure of having to meet targets or deadlines, but the absence of expectations meant that there was also no system of evaluation or recognition that would allow Lynne to gauge her performance and determine whether or not she was doing well Neither were there any benchmarks to let her know whether her employers thought she was doing well or poorly. The vacuum in which Lynne had to function badly undermined her self-esteem and kept her in a state of continual self-doubt. She was working hard, as was her nature, and looked to her boss for some sort of feedback or recognition but none was forthcoming. No one ever once said to her," Lynne, you're doing a good job," Although at the time Lynne could not consciously identify what was missing in her work life, she did have a suspicion that she was not being paid enough. She was very hesitant, however, to discuss pay with other lawyers. It seemed taboo or an overly personal subject to broach with others. Also, because she worked out in the suburbs far from the big downtown firms, had interests and priorities which led her to associate rarely with other lawyers, and perhaps because of her shy nature, Lynne had no way of knowing the circumstances or expectations that were being experienced by other lawyers. Professionally, Lynne was isolated. She had no context to evaluate any aspect of her working experience. This undermined her sense of what she deserved, so instead of feeling that she was entitled to more, Lynne mainly felt grateful for what this job did provide her. She worked in a convenient location and called her own hours so it seemed to her that compared to what other young lawyers traditionally complained about, she had it easy so she should "shut up already about her circumstances." The absence of validation of her performance, coupled with her professional isolation left Lynne with a sense that she was lucky to have the job she had. And 65 for a while the fear of losing what she liked about her situation kept Lynne from believing she had a right to anything more Shortly after Lynne had transferred her work to the new firm she became pregnant with her first child She was thrilled to be pregnant but was hesitant to deliver the news to the partners of the firm that she would be taking a few months off. She took pains to keep from impinging any problems of pregnancy on them, taking no sick days and working right up until the Friday before her daughter was born. Despite the efforts Lynne had made to minimize the time she took away from her work, the partners made her pay for it nonetheless. They didn't have the wisdom to bring on anybody else for the 3 months she would be away, and T. tried to do all of Lynne's work in addition to his own. The odd problem file inevitably Came up and he blamed his difficulties on Lynne, saying," what a screw-up, I didn't know anything, and we're not sure we want you back." Not once did she hear anything positive as they looked in on her practice. Lynne had to assume that she was doing an okay job only because they hadn't fired her yet. When Lynne returned from her maternity leave they continued to be hard on her and she became determined to prove to them that they were wrong. She began to work even harder to show them that she really could do the job; Five years later, little had changed in the way the firm was being run and Lynne was growing increasingly frustrated. Eventually Lynne had asked for a few pay raises and each time the partners would go through a big charade with her. Either they tried to bargain her down or they gave her what she asked for, but they never used any objective measures such as billing or performance to determine what she deserved to make. Lynne knew of no other way of doing things so didn't resist their methods. She felt resentment nonetheless. She still had no knowledge of what others at her level were being paid but her feeling that she was underpaid was growing. By this time Lynne and her husband had had their second child and were starting to have a lot of problems at home with their daughter who was extremely precocious and difficult to handle. Lynne and her husband had employed a series of nannies to look after their children because they both worked, but this was expensive and increasingly problematic. 66 At work, Lynne had taken equal pains with her second pregnancy to avoid inconveniencing the firm but the scenario had been the same. This crisis with her daughter, however, demanded that she give her home life more attention. Lynne cut back her work week from 5 days to 3 days so that she could spend more time with her daughter and continued to do this for over a year. It was stressful for her to have both kids full-time since she wasn't used to it, and she was also under more pressure at work now due to her reduced hours. She didn't want to be told that she wasn't pulling her weight, so she coped by becoming extremely efficient By the end of the year, despite her reduced work week, Lynne had increased her previous production level by 50%. Any file that touched her desk was handled immediately With only 3 days in the office Lynne couldn't afford to deal with a file twice. Again the support staff provided her with encouragement and support, and Lynne never once let a problem be passed off to another lawyer. Despite her herculean efforts and her improved productivity, the partners reduced Lynne's salary to three fifths of her regular amount. At the time, Lynne again felt grateful. She didn't see her production numbers and still hadn't talked pay with anyone on the outside, so intellectually it seemed to riiake sense to her that she would be paid less than if she were in attendance full-time. At a gut level though, it didn't feel right. Still, she was feeling very insecure and was so grateful for work that she loved, that she took what she was given. After the year was out Lynne had to return to work full-time because financially her family needed a full second income. She hadn't had a pay raise for 2 years and to have her pay further reduced made things impossibly tight at home. Finally at Christmas dinner that year, Lynne broke down and confided her frustrations to an uncle who was a lawyer in a big downtown firm. "But," she concluded," I'm only bringing in receivables of about $200,000 per year, so what can I expect?" Her uncle was astonished. "Are you kidding?" he exclaimed. "That would be excellent for a downtown firm - that's astounding!" A light went on for Lynne. It was the first time she had any sense of how well she was performing. She continued by confiding her salary to her uncle, and discovered that she was being paid half what she 67 would have earned in a standard downtown firm, before any bonuses or incentives. It was almost too much to take. Lynne's first reaction was to wonder at the low standards of these downtown firms if she had managed to pull off this amount out in the suburbs working only 3 days a week. Soon however, the implications of this information began to sink in and this validation enabled Lynne to see her accomplishments in a whole new light. She had exposed what she thought were her vulnerabilities, expecting to have her doubts about her performance confirmed. Instead she received praise, support, and crucial information. Lynne finally had some context with which to evaluate her work experience and some solid ground under her feet in the pursuit of her goals. It seemed to Lynne that she had two courses of action available to her; she could stay in the firm or she could go. The following spring Lynne began a process of exploration and reaching out, beginning by inquiring after a position with the firm across the street. It so happened that the firm was in the market for a solicitor and they were very interested in talking to her; They had been looking for a more junior person but were happy to enter into negotiations with Lynne, who was pleased to observe that she had, without knowing it, acquired something of a reputation in her area. One of Lynne's requests for this new position was to be able to take her assistant, V., along with her to the new job. Lynne's corporate wills and estate assistant had become, over the years, her primary source of guidance and someone who shared Lynne's passion for the work she was doing. However, V. had also convinced Lynne that her success was a result of V.'s knowledge of the field and superior guidance, and that without V., Lynne knew nothing Due to the demoralizing impact of her work experience to date, coupled with her own unassuming nature, Lynne didn't have the self-confidence to refute V.'s assertions The firm made her a proposal but would not permit her to bring her own assistant, so Lynne turned the job down. As a next attempt to leave, Lynne signed a lease for premises with the idea of starting her own practice. She had arranged with two support staff, including V., that they accompany her. However, businesses around them were doing poorly that spring and it seemed abad time to take such a risk. Lynne felt very insecure about 68 whether she could generate the kind of business she would need to get a firm off the ground. She had never touched a computer and knew nothing about accounting so at the last moment they decided against such a move and backed out of the agreement. With two unsuccessful attempts to leave, Lynne felt she was back where she started but she could no longer tolerate the idea of staying in the firm as it was. In their discussions about her situation, Lynne and her husband began to wonder if there was not a third alternative that they had yet to consider. Perhaps, they wondered, Lynne's best option might be to try and stay where she was and see if the partners of the firm would consider a reverse take-over. Iri July she delivered a letter to the partners explaining her frustrations and her reluctance to continue at the firm. She offered to leave, or stay and take over the management of the firm and try and bring about some improvements in the way the firm was run. The partners thought about this and weren't particularly happy about the idea but in the end they agreed. The compromise was that Lynne would take over management but would be given only a slight raise; they would try the arrangement for a year and conclude with a review at the year's end. For Lynne this option seemed less scary than heading out on her own and allowed her to stay in a firm that was familiar and continue to work with people that she actually liked despite their abysmal management of the firm. They were drifting about like a rudderless ship and Lynne figured that this was her opportunity to take care of the problems she had identified. She felt sure that she wouldn't do any more harm than was already being done and figured that if she gave it a try she might be able to do some good. Ideally, Lynne hoped, the changes she would bring about would not only make work easier for her but would benefit everyone at the firm. As it turned out this arrangement continued for over 2 years. In trying to reorganize and run the office, Lynne relied on what seemed like common sense as her guiding principle, perhaps not realizing how much business management expertise she had absorbed by osmosis from her father's lifetime in business. Lynne and the support staff began by reviewing all the systems in the office right down to the ordering of supplies and the scheduling of 69 appointments. They evaluated everything on the basis of effectiveness, altering some systems and keeping those that seemed to work. Lynne also introduced weekly staff meetings and case discussions. Staff meetings hadn't been held for years because the partners believed that staff meetings were just gossip sessions that led to trouble. Lynne, however, found these meetings not only were productive but were fun and really brought the staff together. When Lynne asked for a copy of the budget she was handed two pieces of paper with some numbers penciled in. Even as a lay person with no formal training in accounting, Lynne was appalled. A million dollar business was being represented by roughly sketched numbers. Immediately Lynne arranged to have a computerized spreadsheet program brought in In order to learn more, she joined a group program for law office administrators. Lawyers weren't supposed to belong but Lynne registered herself as a bookkeeper so that she could go to their meetings. Although she still felt that she was relying mainly on common sense, Lynne also took courses and read books in her attempts to educate herself about how one was supposed to run a law firm as a business. It was natural for Lynne to admit to herself that there were great gaps in her knowledge and she felt completely comfortable opening them up to other professionals, asking questions and probing them for their opinions oh the most effective way to run a firm. The men of her firm, in what Lynne dubbed the "arrogance of ignorance," would never have asked those questions of others and as aresult it had gone right by them that the world of law and business had changed and people were doing things differently. Lynne invited the openness of others and asked people what the firm might do differently. She happily exposed their vulnerabilities, even at the risk of seeming silly or being embarrassed, because she believed that the end result would be the improvement of the firm. The changes Lynne initiated met with a good deal of resistance and no support from the upper ranks of the firm. They refused to acknowledge even that some good might be coming out of her efforts. They resented her when she pressed them on their accounts receivable, which showed them up in a poor light. T.'s only comment on the new 70 developments Lynne had created was in reference to the weekly staff meetings. "There seems to be a lot of joking going on in there," he said, but he never once asked Lynne about the projects and accomplishments she and the staff had been enthusiastically working towards. Lynne was deeply disappointed. She had hoped against hope that if she could just show them that addressing these issues would make people happier and more productive and the business more profitable then they would join her and support her, but they continued to ignore the positive impact of her contributions. She wanted to show them the light, but she was getting no extra money, no credit, and not once did anyone except her support staff tell her that she was doing a good job. She woke up to the fact that two years had passed with no review. They would have let her go on forever that way if it just kept her quiet. She also saw that the vote of approval she had worked harder and harder for Over the years was never coming, and that its absence had more to do with them and their problems than it did with her and her performance. Lynne was bashing her head against a brick wall. They weren't going to change and it wasn't her responsibility to create change for them. They had to accept responsibility for themselves. Around the same time that Lynne was coming to terms with this realization the firm was having difficulties with a new lawyer they had hired. This individual had turned out to be a disaster. He was manipulative and incompetent, and clients were climbing the walls. Lynne tried to set up a program of review in an effort to deal with the problem and avoid further embarrassing the firm but the partners refused to have anything to do with it. They were simply unwilling to deal with problems, even to the point of being unable to deal with Lynne as a problem. It was the final straw and Lynne concluded that she had given them the very best chance they were going to get. Over the next few months she sought out new premises and arranged to set up her own firm. Although it was finally the only option left that made sense to her, the thought of going out on her own was terrifying to Lynne. Her husband had just taken a leave of absence from his career to care for their children full-time, which meant that they would have some 71 stability at home but also that Lynne's would be the only income for a while. Lynne still had no solid sense of her own competence and had no idea if the business would really work. She knew that clients liked her and that she always gave them the best service she could, but she had never heard whether she was doing a good or bad job and had no idea whether her skills with people would be adequate for running a business She would be both financially liable and personally responsible for the success or failure of the firm. It felt like a huge risk, but to be true to herself Lynne knew that she had to give it a shot. She had to prove to herself that she could make it on her own and wasn't just relying on their safety net. Also, Lynne had just had her fortieth birthday and it seemed like a pivotal point to her - it was now or never. With trepidation, Lynne sent out faxes to her clients to let them know she was moving and to give them the choice to transfer their file to the new firm if they wished: Lynne had been told to expect that about 10 to 25% of her clients would be likely to accompany her, and she was prepared to be happy with this number although she was sorry to think of giving up many of the people she had so enjoyed working with over the years. Much to her surprise and delight, 89% of the companies she had worked with agreed to accompany her right off the bat. It was a huge vote of confidence and the first real validation that she was indeed doing excellent work. Even T's cousin, a client, had indicated that she wanted to transfer her files with Lynne. Not surprisingly, several of the support staff had also indicated their willingness to move and throw in their lot with her. T. took it very personally. In his perception, Lynne had slit their throats when she handed in her notice. In the weeks before she and the three others were due to leave, T. began to get quite nasty with them. He even began checking their desks to make sure that they weren't taking anything with them that wasn't theirs. To Lynne it felt like a slap in the face, after all her years of effort and honesty. It made her wonder if next time she shouldn't just walk and not worry so much about the impact on others. On the day they left, T. gave Lynne a hug. He told her that he felt like he was seeing off a daughter who had grown up and was ready to go out on her own, but any time afterwards he behaved very 72 bitterly towards her. Unless Lynne made an effort to say hello to him he acted as though she had fallen off the face of the earth. The first little while at their new location was both difficult and exciting for Lynne and her colleagues. Lynne had to personally face a lot of new challenges. She had trouble finding one more good lawyer to do the litigation work and the first two that she hired turned out to be absolute disasters. Cash flow, dealing with the bank, and accounts receivable all became even more important issues for Lynne because her personal financial well-being was at stake. She took on a lot of extra work so that she would know thoroughly how every aspect of their office was functioning. For the first 4 months Lynne did all of the work herself on their new accounting package because the woman who brought in their accounting program suggested that someone in the office should really understand it. It meant long evenings at home working by modem and Lynne was becoming really tired, but at the same time she could see that as a result of her hands on approach she was learning a great deal about their financial picture. She learned how to plan and stretch things out. When the firm first started, Lynne only asked whether or not they would have enough money to survive from week to week. However, as time passed and her confidence grew, the margins within which Lynne was operating began to move outwards and she began to project their financial survival further and further into the future. She began to put their ups and downs into perspective as she came to realize they were part of normal business cycles that were likely to define their business year in years to come. The first year went much better financially than they had expected and by the second year even the accountant was very impressed by how quickly they had built up the business. Because her new firm was still quite geographically isolated, Lynne continued her commitment to decreasing their professional isolation. She was becoming even more determined to find out what was happening in other firms and what others were doing, and she became increasingly open about asking questions and inviting other people's opinions about her way of doing things She became involved in many of the subsections of the 73 Canadian bar, and regularly attended the meetings of the law practice management subsection. She even joined the Legal Assistant's association. The association was supposed to be for office managers only, but they took a special, vote and said Lynne could attend because she was doing most of the office management work herself. They were very supportive of Lynne and often marveled at how busy she seemed, but in Lynne's mind she had no choice but to take on all of the work that she did. As far as she could see, these things needed to be done and there was no one else to do them. It was important to Lynne and she was pleased to observe in herself a willingness to face and take on tasks or problems that needed to be dealt with, however unpleasant, after her years of frustration with the leaders of her old firm. When she had hired the second litigator for the firm, she had really hoped that he would be what they were looking for. However, after a few months her assistant brought it to her attention that all was not working out as planned. It .took her a few weeks to work up to it and to sort out what she felt would be best for the firm, but in the end Lynne was proud of herself that she was able to face up to the unpleasant task of letting him go. Lynne's ability to make hard decisions endured the ultimate test in the firm's third year when she had to fire V , her legal assistant and colleague of 10 years. V. had accompanied Lynne to the new location and had been an absolute powerhouse in getting the new firm off the ground. V. had been a legal assistant for many years and the work was her whole life. She had an extremely unhappy life at home and was her family's sole financial support. All of her self-esteem came from her career. In years past Lynne and V. had come to work together as colleagues. They shared a passion for the work they were doing and matched each other's energy and enthusiasm. As V. often pointed out, she had 30 years of experience in the field of law. She knew so much about many different areas and she had been Lynne's main source of guidance throughout the years. During the best times, there was an understanding and a trust between them. After the first few years in the new firm, this understanding began to break down. V. was a formidable woman. She was a powerful presence and commanded a great deal of 74 influence over the office. Lynne deeply respected and appreciated her capabilities, and also understood how much her work meant to her, so she went out of her way to respect V.'s needs and satisfy her requests. When they moved to the new firm, V asked for and got her own office. She asked for a special new chair, Lynne bought it for her. She was the prima donna. She called her hours, she was paid for over-time, she being paid $10,000 more than she would be anywhere else. However, despite the tremendous recognition and encouragement and credit that Lynne and the others accorded -V., it just seemed to be a bottomless pit and their support never seemed to be enough to keep her happy. V. was undermining the cohesiveness Of Lynne's team. Even when she simply entered aroom, she entered it with a cloud of negative energy that unsettled and caused anxiety in everyone around her. The other staff began td ask Lynne and each other if it was something they had said or done to create such a black mood in the place At first they were reluctant to come to Lynne about V. since they knew Lynne and V. had a special relationship, but Lynne pressed them and in a way was relieved to find in their concerns some validation for her own difficulties with V. However, their willingness to finally confide in her also further reinforced for Lynne how much they were all struggling under V.'s domination. Before long Lynne and her staff had all arrived at a consensus that most of stress and turmoil was indeed radiating from V. who acted completely oblivious to the impact she was having on the others. Lynne tried to address with V the issue of her mood swings, but V. denied their existence and wasn't willing to listen to the others' perspectives. It was her refusal to recognize the problem that caused Lynne the most despair because it circumvented any attempt at a solution and worsened an increasingly intolerable situation. The law firm was there to make money but, to Lynne, it was really the well-being of the people that counted and this was now being seriously threatened; As V.'s depression and general unhappiness increased, she also became increasingly inappropriate and abusive towards Lynne. As she struggled to remain the top dog in the office, her comments were usually aimed at undermining Lynne's confidence and authority, 75 convincing her that her success was due to V.'s capabilities and involvement. Whenever V. didn't get her way she cut Lynne down, saying," you don't know what you're doing as a lawyer," and "I'm the only one who keeps you out of trouble." She undermined Lynne's obvious interpersonal skills, saying," I can see that clients like you, but it's nothing to do with skill, it's just a personality thing." She questioned everything Lynne did and criticized her involvements, telling her to "sit down at her desk and just keep up instead of going out all the time with people from the banks." When Lynne bought some furniture for her home for the first time in 20 years, V. berated her for "making money now so that she could go spend it." On the surface Lynne refused to take it personally because she understood that V.'s venom had more to do with her life's unhappiness than it had to do with Lynne. With regards to V.'s cut about her new furniture, Lynne knew that she didn't deserve that, that she had done without just as long as V. had. However, V.'s other remarks found a more sensitive spot in Lynne. Always at the back of her mind was the niggling question of, "was she not right?" V.'s work was so phenomenal and V. had always been right by Lynne's side. Maybe she was right and all of Lynne's success had been due to V.'s capabilities? Maybe Lynne did need her to survive? Despite these troubling worries and doubts, Lynne could see that others were looking to her to handle the situation. V. was bullying her. Was Lynne going to let herself be bullied? When Lynne told her family each evening what had been going on throughout the day she realized that she wasn't setting a good example. Through the eyes of her husband and children, Lynne could clearly see that V.'s behavior was offensive and inappropriate. She wanted her children to know that V.'s behavior was not acceptable, that this was not how you treated people or let yourself be treated. The other staff were also counting on her to deal with the problem. Finally, Lynne had brought a retired law office manager in to the office to help her look at the staff positions and this woman had suggested that she create an additional position. V. was threatened by the possibility of someone new on her territory and vented her anger and resentment more than ever. The woman was appalled at V.'s behavior, and openly 76 recommended to Lynne that she consider V. her biggest problem. To Lynne it seemed again that there was only one solution left to her. The situation was intolerable and could not continue. As much as she had cared for V. over the years, and even if it meant she was cutting her own throat in doing so, Lynne was going to have to ask V to leave. If her firm went down, then V. would have been right, but it didn't take away from what Lynne had to do. One Friday in March Lynne sat down and told V. that she was going to have to proceed with her plans for firm expansion. In essence, this was tantamount to asking V. to leave because their ideas for the firm had become mutually incompatible Inside, Lynne had still hoped that being given a clear message of power would cause V. to be pulled up short and might result in being able to give her another chance. The following Wednesday V. did get back to Lynne but all she said was," Okay, we'll try it your way. My husband says that I've got to put bread on the table." Sadly, Lynne knew this wasn't enough, that V. had not really admitted there was a problem so there would not be any change. Lynne saw that she could not possibly fix V.'s basic unhappiness, though she had certainly tried. It had never been her responsibility to try and fill the bottomless pit of V.'s needs. Since March Lynne and her staff have had a very difficult time keeping up with all of V.'s work. She had been unbelievably capable and productive. They brought a few temporary people in, but Lynne found she needed to learn how to do things herself in order to be able to tell them what she wanted them to do. As a result Lynne did her own secretarial work, right down to the niftiest grittiest part of a file, rationalizing that it was probably good for her even though it hurt. Lynne had expected to struggle. She had been told to prepare for 6 months of long hours and dog work after letting such a key player go and it made things easier to know that this was a transitional period. Despite the extra challenges, the mood in the office was much happier. Everyone seemed very relieved, as if a cloud had gone. As the months went by and more things began to fall into place, Lynne and her staff began to lift their heads up from time to time and marvel that they were actually making it without V. V. had managed to convince them all that they couldn't survive without her. Lynne still felt a good deal of loss 77 around V.'s departure. Someone new would never share that same sense of history with the rest of the staff, and understand the chances they had taken and the excitement they had felt going out on their own. What V. had broken was the trust and the special relationship that she and Lynne personally had shared, but Lynne also recognized that that was from V.'s side and Lynne could not mend it. Recently Lynne hired a new person who seems to be picking the work up very quickly and things seem to be falling into place. The first litigator she had hired, who had left out of a desire to make money more quickly, came back one day and asked if Lynne might consider hiring him back. Lynne recognized that it had taken tremendous courage for him to return after the difficulties he had caused her, that he probably feared that she would tell him to get lost, but Lynne had been sorry he left so she welcomed him back warmly. He has turned out to be an honest lawyer and a steady worker, and Lynne is relieved to feel that she now has a better balance in the office. Lynne is now focused on rounding out the practice and finding a third lawyer. Right now there are not enough workers to allow one of them to get sick and Lynne herself hadn't had a day off or a holiday in ages. Lynne is enjoying, for the first time, the freedom to consider the ways in which she wants the firm to grow. V had always refused to work with or supervise another support person and would not do any other type of work-in the last few months Lynne has finally been functioning without all of the supports from her past which, although they were comforting, eventually restricted her ability to pursue her visions. As the leader of her firm, one of Lynne's strong points is her obvious enthusiasm and passion for the work she is doing. Her thoroughness and willingness to do much Of the dirty work herself is much appreciated by her staff. It sets a standard for them but also gives them a level of comfort in knowing that Lynne is aware of what is going on and checks up on things to ensure they are done properly. At the same time, Lynne continues to recognize and deeply appreciate the support that her staff gives her and she treats them with respect. She enjoys being generous with them, bringing flowers or presents in sometimes and she is conscious that 78 they are being paid well. There are a lot of commonalties between Lynne and the women she works with that help to bond them. They are all married with children of the same age. Because they spend so much time together Lynne feels it is really important that they have a good, positive relationship. She would prefer that they all build each other up instead of bringing each other down. The firm generally functions in a very democratic way, but Lynne also finds that as the boss she has to create a balance between distance and familiarity with her staff, having recognized that compromising all of her authority can undermine the respect her staff have for her. When she goes away to courses or functions she usually suggests that they order in lunch for themselves, so that they can feel a sense of community among each other that is separate from her. For the longest time Lynne didn't know what kind of a lawyer she was or how well she was doing. Now she is satisfied that she is doing a good job. She is still not sure that she knows how to make a lot of money at this work. She is still not making as much as she thinks she should but for now she can accept that. She knows that as long as she has a goal she has the capacity to hang in there and work towards it. Lynne credits her increased confidence to the body of knowledge she has built up over the years. She now knows a lot about running a firm and ensuring its survival. She also has the validation of clients who return to bring her their business and the concrete confirmation of meeting her own goals. She now feels strongly about the importance of setting expectations, for her children at home, for her staff, and for herself, because otherwise she wonders, "how are you to know if you're there yet if you don't know where you were headed?" Lynne has also learned to put things that scare her and that she hates to do, like networking and client development, into perspective. She has discovered from past experience that as unpleasant as she finds them, these tasks haven't killed her yet and she has felt better for having tried. Recently Lynne was asked to speak at a conference for women in business. The other women who spoke offered lots of tips about bringing in clients but Lynne basically stuck to telling her story. Many of the women attending the conference later contacted Lynne 79 to say they found her presentation the most useful and the most encouraging. In her talk she emphasized the importance of asking questions and of knowing the business of one's business. For Lynne, it wasn't enough to simply practice law. She had to know the economic forces and practicalities to complete the picture of her work and give her the confidence that there was a purpose to the work she was doing. Once those were secured, she could develop a sense of direction and benchmarks by which to gauge her success. Postscript: Lynne's experience over the last few months has reinforced the importance of her decision to preserve team moral over the needs of one individual. Since the time of our initial interview, Lynne and her staff have risen to the additional responsibilities that they had to assume when V. left. They have grown in doing so, and the productivity that has resulted from their more positive and happy work environment has more than compensated for any skills that they lost when they lost V. Computer and technical skills can be learned and improved, but this experience has brought home to Lynne the essential value of "people skills," or an individual's ability to work well with others. 80 Chapter 6 Ann's Story Ann is currently taking a leave of absence from her position as a partner in a large corporate law firm. She is a single woman in her early thirties. Ann began working for the law firm in a very supportive and subordinate capacity after she got her law degree. Over the last decade, Ann has worked her way up through positions of increasing responsibility within the firm, learning the culture and taking on new challenges until she finally felt a sense of comfort and belonging within the system. As Ann's inner confidence in herself developed, this was reflected in increasing external authority and recognition, culminating in her promotion to the position of a partner in the firm. Once she reached this goal within the organization, Ann felt free to question whether the world of corporate law was really the place where she wanted to apply her energies and influence in the future. These questions led her to take a leave of absence from the firm and she is now in the process of considering career options other than corporate law which might fulfill her more completely This departure from the firm has been one of the biggest risks of Ann's life, but it was a risk taken with a great deal of integrity and faith in herself and has resulted in feelings of exhilaration and vitality. Ann looks to her future with both fear and great excitement. In the back of her mind, Ann always wanted to be in a position of leadership. It seemed natural to her to want to take on decision making, responsibilities, and authority. However, she started her working life somewhat off-course. Graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science, Ann found work in computers to be too narrow. It was detailed, pragmatic, and black and white with little room for judgment. She saw the field of corporate law as a broader arena that would provide her with more opportunities. She decided to return to university and complete a law degree, hoping to expand her options. 81 Upon graduation, Ann began articling with a large corporate law firm in the city. Ann's job involved analyzing contracts and legal documents and providing analytical back-up for senior litigators. Within the firm cases were assigned to teams and Ann worked as a member of these teams, but her role was supportive and subordinate. She was a background resource for the people who were in the forefront, for those who had real authority and full responsibility for decision making. In the law firm people worked their way up through an organized system of progression symbolized by increasing levels of responsibility and titles. From the beginning Ann saw herself on this path and as she progressed through many new experiences she knew what she was working towards. For her first few years in the organization, Ann accompanied lawyers who negotiated litigation cases. She expressed ideas and provided support, but during the negotiations and interviews she remained in the background, in position to observe their personal styles and the way the senior people moved through the steps of the process. As a participant without full responsibility, without an active voice in the proceedings, she had a safe and sheltered situation from which to learn. For Ann this time was about learning basic skills; building relationships; establishing credibility; and becoming comfortable within the organizational culture. Through practice and gradually increasing responsibilities, she honed her legal and research skills and learned about the field. As she took on these responsibilities people in the firm were watching her, testing their comfort with her and deciding whether they had the confidence in her to let her take on the next level. At the same time as she cultivated relationships with those around her, she was building credibility and trust. Ann also had to learn the system and become comfortable in her new work environment. This was her chance to exist within this environment, trying to understand the culture and the dynamics simply by observing and by being a participant in an indirect and supportive fashion Of these new experiences, learning how to exist within the organizational culture of the law firm was a particular challenge for Ann. While businesses always tended to possess a 82 distinct political culture, Ann was working in a field that was heavily male dominated and her work environment reflected this reality. It was very aggressive and often conflict oriented; There were codes of behavior arid unwritten rules of negotiation that simply existed, and Ann had to try and pick them up as she went along. As a woman this was more of a challenge because most of these norms were male norms, simply by virtue of the fact that the culture was predominantly comprised of men. To Ann this wasn't necessarily either positive or negative - it was just her reality. She had stepped into a field that was filled mostly with men and as a woman she was by nature a bit of ah outsider, bringing in a different set of values and something of a different perspective. To Ann it seemed parallel to being an immigrant stepping into a new country. The first immigrants in a new culture have little choice but to assimilate. In order to function within that environment they have to thoroughly learn the culture and adjust their norms and values in order to fit in and survive. However, in terms of women entering the male dominated fields like corporate law, Ann felt like she was at the precipice of a larger social change. There were enough women in the work world now to be reaching a kind of critical mass. She hoped to be able to exist as a woman in her environment, and through that very existence, start to effect changes in the culture. As a result, Ann strove to retain who she was and function within her environment in a way that felt true to herself. She tried to balance the expectations of the organizational culture with her personal codes of behavior and her value system. It was the harder route to take and as she struggled to maintain the balance, it felt like she was forging new territory. Ann's 2 years in a supportive role, where she was allowed to participate but in an indirect way, provided a foundation for later, fuller participation in the world of thelaw firm. Sheltered from exposure too soon, Ann was able to observe models, evaluate, and grow more accustomed to the dynamics of male negotiations. Although it didn't always feel like it at the time, Ann's progressive increase in responsibility was gradual and guided. Her superiors in the firm tended to throw bigger and bigger pieces of responsibility at Ann and her peers, then 83 stood back while they flailed around with their new challenges. It was often scary and difficult, but Arm's comfort level built as she worked through these tasks. Her co-workers referred to the process as the "baptism by fire." Each new task that required Ann to stretch beyond her comfort zone was another step that readied her to take on bigger challenges. Most of the time it felt as though she was on her own, but in reality her superiors were available as support Or to step in if need be. The partner in charge of her division was something of a mentor to Ann. He anticipated where she might need support and direction for her assignments, but left it to Ann to actually perform. His style of mentoring was to throw people into the deep end, allowing them to struggle with the fear and anxiety that would inevitably come up for them, but knowing all the while how deep the water was and when they might need to be pulled out. After two years, Ann was promoted to an associate position; This meant that her time of participating in a peripheral and supportive capacity was ending. She had been deemed capable Of assuming fuller and more central responsibilities. For one of her first cases, Ann was handed a fairly difficult dispute When she looked at the legal documentation there seemed to be very little they could do except recommend aggressive litigation, a harsh move that the firm usually preferred to avoid Ann arranged to meet with the principals involved. This was her case and she had authority for it, but the partner in charge of her division accompanied her to the meieting to provide her with some support. It would be up to her however, to negotiate a settlement and work through the details. Such a meeting required a solid foundation in legal analysis, a background of abilities in which Ann felt confident. However, such a meeting was also likely to call for a negotiation through conflict. Ann found handling conflict and aggression to be extremely challenging so this was a daunting situation for her. Not only was a level of aggression bound to be present but, even worse, she had no way of knowing how she would handle it. It required a leap into the unknown that could not be adequately charted ahead of time Before going to the meeting, Ann was anxious about the wrath she would face. She had no way of knowing how they might react to the news she had to deliver. These 84 negotiations tended to be intense, often emotional confrontations. They were unpredictable and there was only so much she could do to prepare herself. Ann had to struggle to find a meeting ground, a struggle that was intensified by the underlying reality that the client's economic survival was often at stake. She would just have to press forward, letting issues arise then relying on her wits to respond to each situation correctly. How she would respond to these shifting circumstances was as yet untested. She had come to be able to count on her abilities schplastically and analytically through her work, but this was more intangible. Most of the negotiations she had observed had been very face to face and extremely confrontational -sort of like a battle of wits. She had to trust her inner resources and put herself on the line. She was afraid of letting herself down, or letting down the organization and their clients. In the end, Ann met with the principals involved and they were actually very cooperative. The meeting went smoothly and they successfully effected a settlement. She had faced up to her fears and worked through them successfully, and to Ann this felt like her first little victory. This experience and others like it prompted Ann to think about the role of fear in her process. She was testing a lot of waters and doing things that weren't necessarily comfortable for her to see how they would turn out, and she had come to realize that fear was part of this experience. She had the opportunity to observe a lot of leaders within the business and legal communities and it seemed that one of the qualities they shared was a willingness to face that fear and work through it. Like most people, Ann's first instinct was to run away from experiences that provoked fear, controlling her circumstances and environment to foster safety rather than risk. However, the people she saw taking on high levels of responsibility and visionary roles seemed to be people who could extend their boundaries to move beyond their personal fears, pressing through that inevitable discomfort. They looked at fear differently. They saw it as a motivator, a kind of natural phenomenon that they still experienced but would not let themselves pull back from. They worked through it, as Ann herself had done. As she grappled with it, Ann came to see that fear has its own needs; comfort, security, predictability, routine. If she were to succumb to fear, relaxing into a comfort zone, the very 85 boundaries that defined security for her could also confine possibility. Her comfort zone could also become a trap. Ann wanted responsibility, authority, power and influence/She wanted to develop as a leader, or one who has such qualities. It was not so much an explicit, conscious goal, as a tacit understanding that guided her participation Over the next few years and beyond, Ann struggled with the tension between her priority of expanding her personal horizons and the needs of her fear. Ann moved forward by degrees, small progressions and more little victories. While her position involved a defined ladder of progression that she was following, she also actively sought out and asked for new responsibilities. She didn't have a conscious and specific goal in mind to work towards, but she continued to act in accordance with her desire for influence and responsibility. She wanted to learn and grow, and attain greater degrees of responsibility, authority, and power. The concept of power often had many negative associations attached to it, but Ann didn't see it that way. Women, she noticed, often had a rather reluctant or fearful relationship with power, probably because society didn't always respond favorably to the association, but Ann fortunately wasn't experiencing that tension. The partner in charge of her division was very willing to extend her role and listen to what she needed. In this way, he was an excellent mentor and there were fine people around her who were available for support and adyice. Occasionally, new responsibilities were just thrust upon her and she had to rise to the challenge. In general, the progression of responsibilities was attuned to her sense of readiness and need. As Ann began to gain more comfort as a lawyer, she began to want to reach out and become more involved in the community outside her work world. This desire corresponded to the feeling of expansion and growing comfort she was experiencing with her own career. She wanted to be able to give something back and broaden her areas of influence into parts of the community that were more in need of help. She expressed her interest in getting involved to people who she knew were already engaged in such things, and soon found herself invited to sit on an advisory committee for a large community organization. Her experience in 86 community work mirrored what she was doing at work: It required her to use the same skills and tapped into the same knowledge, but it also satisfied Ann's need to be involved in the community outside traditional business. Ann's decision not to conform to the very male organizational culture around her often resulted in a two-way process of adjustment and learning that became more pronounced as she gained authority and became more confident and comfortable with her own voice. Her behavior challenged others who were used to things happening in another way or were used to dealing with men in her position. Ann represented something new to them as much as they represented something a bit foreign to her, and both had to learn how to deal with one another. Often in negotiations the people with whom Ann had to deal tried to direct the process in a very man-to-man manner, in line with how they had always done things. In many instances Ann intervened and stopped it, changing the tone so that the proceedings continued differently This left others to adjust to her culture and her way of doing things. It got pretty complicated at times, and some individuals were a bit taken aback, but usually Ann found that people were willing to follow her lead. In one instance Ann was involved in an arbitration with a middle aged man who was very well established in the community The client she was representing was trying to restructure their business arrangement with him. They were at quite a contentious point and were really failing to see eye to eye. When they sat down together to try and negotiate through some terms, the client started yelling at Ann. She wasn't sure whether this was a move that was typical of his approach or whether he would have acted differently if there were another man sitting across the table from him. She suspected that he was the type who just liked to knock heads. She had seen many men do that - they sat down to negotiate, fought openly and then walked away, seeming to be fairly emotionally detached. She however, was not comfortable with this level of aggression. Ann sat and listened and let the gentleman yell while she considered her alternatives She had several options. She could cower and let him intimidate her, or she could yell back at him, or she could try to somehow redirect this. 87 Despite her discomfort, she knew that cowering was not an option. If she cowered, she would lose. Yelling back at him would put her at a disadvantage because she knew she could not yell as loudly or be as aggressive as he so she would lose that battle too. This way of interacting seemed unproductive and felt unnatural to her. She chose to redirect the negotiation. When he had concluded his yelling, Ann said, "I am not going to deal with you in this manner We have a problem in front of us and we need to come to a solution. Let's deal with it." Happily, Ann found that her chosen course of action worked. She eliminated the intensity of his aggression and reframed their situation as a problem that both needed to solve. Not only did this tactic reverse the balance of power between them, taking the wind out of his sails and strengthening Ann's footing, but it was also productive. He became much more cooperative and they were able to get down to solving the problem. Ann's experience was reinforcing for her that her most effective "way of being" in her work world was to act in a manner that felt true to herself. She found that if she tried to engage in the culture in a manner that wasn't authentic, then it didn't work and it wasn't well regarded. Ann had observed other women who tried to become assimilated by taking on very aggressive and typically masculine behaviors, buying into the culture, and it seemed to her that these women sold themselves and their person in doing so. People sensed a dishonesty and it didn't work well in the long term. On the other hand, when she behaved in a way that felt true to herself, Ann felt empowered and it seemed that other people sensed that power in her and responded to it. This continued to be a huge area of discovery and testing for Ann. Personal integrity functioned as a kind of gyroscope to keep her balanced and directed. As she forged her way through, estabUshing her boundaries and negotiating her relationships with others, she realized that she was at the same time defining and creating her own reality. Ann's learning experiences and her growing sense of comfort and confidence in herself seemed to culminate in her fourth year with the law firm when she was handed one of the biggest challenges she had yet had to deal with. Through a number of circumstances, Ann had 88 come to be in charge of a very large litigation. Because of the nature of her firm and because of some dynamics that were going on within the firm at the time, Ann had very little support handling this case and was truly on her own. Again, she was faced with new territory. It was a very high profile case which turned out to be a very public and confrontational battle. The stakes were high and the people Ann was pitted against were very well-known people within the city. She felt that she was up against them one on one and she very much wanted to meet the challenge successfully. The battle became quite personal at times and there were a lot of moments when Ann didn't want to be working at it anymore but, interestingly, when she emerged on the other side of the experience something shifted for her. Ann felt a sense of arrival. It had been an extremely stressful period for her, but Ann emerged feeling as though she had arrived at a different level of comfort and confidence in her abilities. She had also demonstrated her competence to the people in the firm who had been a bit surprised when she was given the case, and had been watching to see how Ann would stand up to the challenge. Finally, since it had been a fairly public battle, Ann gained exposure to and recognition from the outside community and people in the field began to see her in a different light. The experience brought her, both personally and publicly, to a different perception of her abilities as a lawyer and her role in the legal community. In the year before Ann had become involved with this litigation, she been asked by the community organization for which she volunteered whether she would be interested in putting her name Up for a board position. She consented, and soon became involved with the organization on a new level The work Ann did on the board continued to utilize her skills, but also involved her in strategy and was more visionary: They focused less on little projects and more on the big picture, detenriining the direction that the organization should take in the future. ThuSj at the same time that Ann arrived at a more independent, autonomous role in the legal community, she stepped into a much more visionary role within the community at large as well. 89 Shortly after she successfully concluded the big litigation, Ann was promoted to Partner. This was a significant development to her. It was a validation - a confirmation of her outward achievements in the firm and also a confirmation of her internal sense of comfort and confidence in her capabilities. In the last few months Ann had arrived at a whole new level of responsibility. She was taking on some really complex cases and was engaged in very important negotiations, and although she still felt she was learning and growing and facing her fears, something in her experience felt qualitatively different. There was a shift in her perception of herself and how she fit into the system: The nature of the work she was doing didn't really change that much, except to become more complex and significant, but Ann no longer felt like an outsider. For many years she had been trying to feel her way around and figure out how she should function. She had felt uncomfortable frequently. Now, she was still feeling her way around, but it was within the context of feeling like an equal. She felt like a participant and a member of influence in the system instead of someone who was striving to get there. In this new stage of her career, Ann had achieved a sense of peace with her role, and she worked with a sense of comfort and belonging. Ann also found her position as partner to be a useful symbol of authority within the community, There was something very comfortable about walking through the world with the title of partner in that it provided her with immediate credibility As a woman and particularly as a young woman, people didn't always suppose Ann to have the authority and competence which she did. There were so many subtle day to day things that might have eroded her confidence if she had not been aware of them happening. Sometimes it was as simple as calling someone up on the phone and having them associate a lesser degree of authority or responsibility with a woman's voice as opposed to a man's. Ann had always found it necessary to have really tangible things to define her credibility, such as degrees and training, and this title was one more thing she could throw out to increase someone's perception of her. She was reaching a point where she could very easily and quickly establish her credibility because she was armed with lots of these little tags. They were tools that helped Ann break through 90 some of the barriers and the preconceived notions that were still part of society. Her partnership was one more of these tags and it complemented the more personal and internal sense of comfort and confidence she now felt as she functioned in the legal community. At the same time, Ann liked to separate these promotions and titles from a more authentic sense of herself. Labels were just labels and she didn't want to confuse them with anything more substantial. They were helpful in terms of external perceptions but other than that, Ann tried to keep them at arms length, separate from how she felt about herself and her personal power. She felt a danger in coming to think too much of these symbols. She didn't want to let them become who she was. At the same time, there was something very freeing about her partnership and this corresponding new phase of her work life. Reaching this level of comfort and accomplishment allowed Ann to say to herself," Okayi I can do this now. I have conquered this so I can now let go of my need to conquer this, and I can start to explore other areas." Until now, Ann hadn't been able to let gO of her need to understand this system, to become a success within this environment. It hadn't yet taught her what she needed to learn Now, her goal accomplished, she was beginning to feel that she had taken this learning experience as far as she wanted it to-go: It gave her confidence and freed her to move on. Ann had reached a position in her career where she could have been very comfortable. She enjoyed having power and influence. She was intellectually stimulated by the work. She had the opportunity to deal with some very interesting and important negotiations and felt privileged to be able to work with some very evolved people. Nonetheless, Ann did not feel completely satisfied. In the field of corporate law, there was a harshness that often clashed with her values and sometimes with her sense of right and wrong. The nature of the work was money. Millions of dollars were often at stake and survival was often the crux of the legal confrontations. In this setting Ann found that people sometimes set aside their ethics and would do whatever it took to get by. Ann couldn't do that and didn't want to do it. She didn't want to live her life or her work life that way! Humanity, emotions, and sometimes values could get swept aside because people were pushed to extreme positions. There were certainly 91 elements of humanity in her work experience, but on the whole, money came before people. This didn't fit for Ann and she found there was a big price in acting this way. There was also a lot of negativity to the work Ann rarely had the opportunity to work cooperatively and productively with someone towards a common goal. Instead, she was usually working in confrontation with someone, towards entirely different goals, and only one of them could win. Between them, they could strive to make the best of a bad situation, but they were rarely working towards a good situation. There was certainly a challenge to this work but it wasn't something Ann could see herself doing in the long run. In this environment, Ann felt that part of her was being neglected. There was no room for the softer parts of life. She wanted to be able to give more of a voice to those other parts of her personality, to her feelings and humanity and creativity, and she didn't want that voice to be limited to her off-time. She had found something of an outlet for this part of herself through her community volunteer work, but she could give this only a few hours a month whereas work took up 60, 70 hours per week. It was out of balance. Ann realized that she had to make a decision about where she wanted to apply herself to the world and the ways in which she wanted to have an influence. Although she had always tried to act out of genuine motives, in consonance with her values and her sense of self, she was beginning to see that there were inherent limits in her work environment. These limits would keep her from ever achieving her vision of who she wanted to be and what she wanted to do. As much as Ann felt she had achieved a level of belonging in this environment, she still carried with her a feeling of being different - not necessarily better or worse, but simply different from most of the people with whom she worked. This feeling was at odds with the more obvious aspects of her experience By and large Ann had found her work environment to be very supportive and she hadn't experienced a lot of prejudice because of her gender. The law firm she worked for was very progressive and most of the people she dealt with had been that way also. Sexism or discrimination had really been non-issues for Ana It was nothing overt but a more subtle, systemic thing. Hopefully in the long run the system would change to 92 allow more room for women like Ann and others who shared her perspective and values, but until then Ann realized that she was going to have to start exploring other options. About a year after becoming a partner, Ann took a 4 months leave of absence from work. She wanted a couple of months to herself to decide how she could take what she had learned over the past 6 years and apply it in a way that was more in keeping with what she wanted to do. She wanted to keep herself moving arid stretching her boundaries. It was enticing for Ann to stay where she was, and it was a huge personal challenge for her to make this decision, essentially letting go of all she had attained. However, as she let go, she felt a resurgence O f vitality arid enthusiasm. It felt as if life, with all its options, was opening up for her again. She also experienced a huge amount of fear. She had made a much harder decision than staying the course, and she struggled with this as the months went by The firm continued to make her offers that she found enticing, but her decision to leave felt right. Ann's choice and her current struggle with these tensions seemed to contain something of the leadership qualities she admired so much in others. This was her biggest challenge She was walking away from more than she'd ever had, but at the same time her decision felt completely true to who she was, and there was something deeply empowering about that. In the months after Ann left, she observed other people's fascination with the risk she had taken. Many of them also wanted to take some chances and make changes in their lives but were put off by the potential consequences. Ann received many calls from her male colleagues who were intrigued by what she had done - by her decision to walk away from what she had achieved. Several of them commented on what a courageous thing it was for her to do. One friend, who was also a partner in a law firm, commented to her, "you know, it's like you can also reach a fear of success. You build up all these achievements within the system and collect all these labels to attach to yourself, then become scared to let them go because that is what you've become. You lose faith in yourself that you will attain them again." 93 Ann has spent a lot of time reflecting over the last few months, struggling to answer many questions and concepts that are important to her. She has particularly dwelled on the concept of leadership. To Ann it seems that there are really two levels, or types, of leadership. The first level is leadership that is based on charisma and titles. Ann has come to realize that the system in which she worked keeps people trapped to some extent at the first level. Companies create positions and labels which take advantage of people's needs. This gives them stability. This gives them self-definition. This gives them an on-going income. This meets all their fears and insecurities. Most people cling to the trapping of leadership and can't let go, but their self-esteem and their inner confidence in themselves is eroded. People can become hollow inside because theyare fearful of trying to do the very things that made them successful in the first place. They become stuck attending to their needs of comfort and fear and control. Some have responsibilities and obligations that force them to freeze at this point. To Ann, identifying too strongly with titles and position is equal to relying on a false sense of self, and this leads to false leadership. Some people stop here, but there are others who move beyond. The people who Ann now looks to as role-models are people she sees as leaders in the truest sense. They are people who continue to let go of the traditional supports and forge outside the system rather than getting caught up in it. They are visionaries and have stepped where other people were fearful of stepping, taking personal risks and moving beyond their fear. These people tend to be entrepreneurial types who are setting up their own systems and facing day to day instability and change. However, to the extent that they are placing their confidence in themselves, Ann feels that they have the ultimate stability. The people whom Ann most admires and wishes to emulate also possess a sensitivity and an accountability towards the world. They are aware of their influence and accept with this influence a level of responsibility. Their leadership is not entirely self-driven. They are not focused on trying to protect the things that they have gained. Other people are not a threat to 94 them and they extend themselves to others. Their vision moves beyond themselves and they are willing to share that vision with other people so that they can make a difference. Ann hopes to be a woman who is able to have it all. This is her vision for herself and even though she struggles constantly with how to do this, she persists in her hope that it is possible. At the same time she has witnessed that women usually suffer consequences and that one part of their lives comes at the price of another. Power, Ann has realized, comes for most women at a very personal price and, in the past, has usually involved compromise. Nonetheless, Ann is seeking and hopes to find a way to have that balance. She feels comfortable with the level of achievement she has reached, but she does not want that to be all that her life is about. She is trying to figure out how to merge her career goals and successes with a balance in her personal life and a balanced life generally. She is redefining her goals and her concept of success, and is seriously questioning whether a system exists within a corporation such that would meet her needs and allow her have the kind of life she wants. As before, Ann is feeling her way, but with a different aim. In the law firm, she had to adjust to an established culture without losing herself In venturing forth on her own, Ann is intrigued by the possibility of being able to define her own system, of creating her own environment. As a result she is looking into doing something more entrepreneurial, so that she could ultimately have her own autonomy and ownership, without the pressure to conform to a preexisting structure or system. Ann has gained a lot of strength and confidence, however, from her experience in the very male world of business and law. She doesn't know if this is less of an issue for men, because they exist naturally within this culture. For her, however, one of her most valuable learning experiences has been to understand this environment and to learn how to behave appropriately and work effectively in it. It is empowering for Ann to know that she can function within this system. Women tend to shy away from these systems, finding areas of influence in softer and more supportive roles. However, whether rightly or wrongly, in our culture money still equals power and the realm of big business is still the main sphere of 95 influence and change. It may have been male dominated, but when Ann set out in her career she had wanted to immerse herself in those areas wherein lay the power of the system. It had been a risk. She had no idea how her abilities would hold up in a field like law, but she emerged from it with a new sense of her own competence. She achieved her goal and came to work as an equal participant in the world of business and law, which resulted in her having a greater sense of confidence and belonging. Now, having established herself and gained a level of comfort within that system, Ann wants to draw upon that knowledge and comfort as she strives to involve others in this new phase of her leadership. Above all, Ann wants to be living her own life - extending her boundaries and taking chances. She wants to continue to tap into that rich, vital experience that comes from resisting the temptation to get caught up in the need for control and safety. Ann is still consolidating her vision of leadership and her vision of her career. She is amazed when she reflects back over the last decade at the personal growth and major transitions this time has brought for her, yet she also feels like she is still the same person. As Ann looks to her future, personal integrity continues to be her guide as she seeks new endeavors that will allow her to apply her energy and her abilities in a way that feels congruent with her sense of self. 96 Chapter 7 Diana's Story Diana is now the acting director of the volunteer department in a large educational institution in Victoria. She is in her thirties and has been ina steady relationship for several years. She does not have any children. Diana worked for 10 years as a registered nurse before moving into volunteer management by accepting a position at a volunteer management agency. Diana's change of career represented a significant adjustment for her in terms of increased responsibility and an altered lifestyle. Her adjustment and progress in the volunteer management organization was facilitated by the extremely supportive and nurturing culture of her new work environment and by a special relationship with a mentor, Diana steadily and quickly worked her way up in the field of volunteer management. After being with the organization for 4 years, she moved to the volunteer management department of an educational institution, where she still works today. Recently, the director of this department left and Diana was made acting director for a 6 month period. Diana does not, at this point, consider herself to be interested in assuming this type of job permanently. However, she has been surprised at how comfortable she has felt in this role and has begun to think that she might wish to pursue such a position someday in her future. Diana's career path to date has taken several twists and turns. She attended university to study psychology, but changed fields into nursing after her second year. Upon graduation she immediately began working in the post op. ward of a local hospital, and continued working as a nurse in several capacities for the next 10 years. It was a wonderful way to spend her twenties. As a nurse she wasn't heavily supervised and she didn't have to supervise anybody else. She just had to know her job and do it well; but then she could leave it behind at the end of her shift. Life was easy and not very stressful. She had lots of free time and she was making quite a good salary. However, as much as Diana enjoyed the lifestyle, it wasn't a job 97 that allowed her to build up any confidence in her abilities. Once she knew her job there weren't really any additional challenges to push her and make her grow. After 10 years she began to feel that she had had enough of this type of career, although she had enjoyed it. She wondered if she should quit her job and go back to school. She wasn't exactly sure what she wanted to do with her life but she was open to the possibilities. She knew it was time to make some changes. When the hospital began to, talk of moving her into a management position, Diana was interested. They loaned her for 3 months to X , a non-profit, volunteer management organization, as preparation for management-type work. She worked as a volunteer with X on one of their projects. After her 3 month stint was up, the volunteer management organization offered her a job as a coordinator managing two of their divisions. When Diana went back to the hospital and told them she had been offered this job by X , the hospital immediately sat her down to make her the offer of another management opportunity with them. After 10 years of just having a good time Diana was suddenly faced with all these opportunities and with, potentially, a very big change in her life. It was certainly very flattering - Diana hadn't really pursued these opportunities but now here they were before her. She had to make a choice. The pay was about equal so that didn't really come into her decision, but Diana could see that taking the position with hospital would be her most secure option. She was familiar with the field and she felt that i f she stayed . with them she would have a lifetime of job security. Somehow however, Diana didn't feel 100% sure that staying was the right thing to do. She suspected that she would have to start at the lower echelons of the hospital's management system. It might require a lot of patience to work her way up the ladder in such a big bureaucracy. Volunteer management, on the other hand, wasn't a career she had ever considered before so it certainly wasn't something she had been dying to do. In fact, compared to working in the hospital the idea of volunteer management really represented something of an unknown. Nonetheless she could see it was a new and exciting field and the people at X seemed to think she would be good at it. She had 98 been able to prove herself enough in her 3 month stint with them to make them want to hire her. Hopefully their confidence in her meant that this field would be a good fit for her. It felt like a very pivotal decision. Finally the person at X who wanted to hire her took her aside and basically said to her, "Look, you know, you really have to take this position. You have no idea what doors this will open up for you." Diana usually liked to give such important decisions a lot of thought but she had only a few days. The hospital wanted to know her decision as soon as possible. She decided to take a leap of faith and trust this person. She told the hospital that she would be leaving them and she accepted the position with X . She knew she had chosen the less secure position. It was one of the biggest risks she had ever taken in her life but at the same time it felt really good. It was exhilarating to actually make that break from her old career and take a leap into the unknown. It was exciting to think she was going to be doing something so completely different! The first year working for X entailed an incredible number of new experiences for Diana, and required a significant amount of adjustment. Moving from the hospital into this new position was a radical change that basically turned her life upside down - not only in terms of her career, but also in terms of her lifestyle. After years of having a job where in some weeks she hardly worked at all, she now had to accommodate a full-time workload. It was more than a normal workload in fact, because working for X was all consuming. Her whole life became centered around her work there These few years represented a turning point in Diana's personal life as well. Her father had passed away a year before she moved to X and Diana had lived with her mother for a year to try and help her through the adjustment to living alone. When she started her new job Diana made the decision to move out and she told her mother that she was going to have to start getting used to living on her own. This was really hard for both of them because her mother was really terrified and Diana was the type of person who, when she cared about someone, 99 was inclined to do everything she could for the person. With the minimum of money down Diana went out and bought a small house totally on her own, financially stretching herself to the limit. Logistically, she probably shouldn't have bought a place. She had had more money to dp that kind of thing while she was in her early twenties but then she hadn't wanted to put down roots and make commitments. Now, after years of a fairly carefree lifestyle, here she was settling down, taking on responsibilities, and dealing with commitments in her family life. Life seemed to be giving her a bit of a kick to start taking things more seriously. Some of these changes were hard but, at the same time, many of them were also her choices. Diana had always cared for herself and been independent, but she had never before been put in a position where she had a lot of responsibility. Now she was in charge of a program and she had quite a number of volunteers to manage. She was also responsible for managing people loaned to X by various organizations around the city. It was all quite new to her; After nursing for 10 years, in charge of no one but herself, it was strange to be in charge of people. Some were older men in their sixties, and some held senior positions in their organizations. She was able to establish good relationships with most people and they made her feel quite comfortable, but at the same time it took a little while for her to build up some security and confidence in her authority. There were a lot of new experiences to go through. She had to evaluate the volunteers' performance and provide support to them. She was a very hard worker and so felt confident about proving herself in terms of the effort she put in, but when it came to telling someone that they were not doing a very good job, or having to pull an individual off a job, these things made her very uncomfortable at first. She found that the volunteers brought a lot of emotional issues to the job. Some wanted to be there. Others weren't sure why their workplace had sent them and were feeling very insecure and unhappy. She had a whole gamut of other people's experiences to deal with. Every volunteer had a different reason for being there so she had to figure out what motivated them and capitalize on that. To a large extent her performance depended on her ability to work successfully with these people. 100 Diana hadn't initially wanted this job and even though she had acceptedit, for a long time she was still questioning whether or not she had made the right decision. At the beginning, there were a few people with whom Diana worked who were very uncomfortable with having her in the position. She had no background in volunteer management. They questioned whether her 10 years experience of being a nurse warranted the position she had been given. Usually more senior people, took on positions such as hers, and there were a lot of other people who had applied for the job. Indeed, it took Diana some time to be comfortable with the idea as well and at first she herself wondered if she was really the best person for the job. A few months into the position she started to wonder if perhaps she had bitten off more than she could chew. She didn't want to disappoint the people who had gambled on her and she was afraid of failing to live up to their expectations. Soon however, Diana began to find the job interesting as well as challenging. She liked having access to other people in their own workplaces. Often she was often dealing with people in quite senior positions. She might be working one day with the vice president of a bank in their office with their employees and find out that the employees had never met this person before. It made her feel that, through the non-profit agency, she was quite privileged to be working with the people that she did. She began to find it intriguing to try and figure out what were their motives for being a volunteer and to try and satisfy those motives while getting what she could out of them so that the project benefited. It was a real balancing act. In working with the volunteers, Diana found that her experience in the hospital really helped her because she could rely on herself to be comfortable with so many different types of people. As Diana struggled to adjust and meet all the responsibilities of her new position, she was able to rely heavily oh the incredibly supportive environment of the organization. She had probably picked one of the best places possible to gain experience in volunteer management. The whole purpose of the agency was, volunteer management so everybody Diana worked with shared her focus and her goals. The team of people she worked with was wonderful and they were so close they were like a family. The organization supported the concept of creative 101 dissatisfaction, so there was a climate of openness and honesty within which individuals could be genuine with each other about the things that were going well and the things that were not going so well. Diana had regular one on ones with her supervisor in which they reviewed her strengths and her weaknesses and her challenges. The experience was almost like going through therapy in its intensity and its honesty. When she was out on the road doing the project she got caught up in the emotions and experience, then she could come back and have access to incredible support and feedback. She could just spill everything on the table and rely on others to help her sort things out. It was an incredible opportunity to gain confidence and insight into her abilities She felt very fortunate that she was able to get over those awkward moments in an environment where there was such incredible support. She doubted that she would have been able to find such an opportunity anywhere else, and it really helped her to adjust. From time to time the honesty and feedback hurt. People had such incredible confidence in her that sometimes when Diana let them down in any way they became disappointed. On one such occasion the most senior person in the organization asked Diana to do a training session with one of her volunteers. Diana was a little extra nervous about doing it because the woman had built it up quite a bit and had stressed how she had especially chosen Diana because it was such an important project. Diana knew she may have appeared a bit more nervous than usual but she also thought that she had done quite a good job of the session and she received good feedback from the participants. However, when she checked back with her superior about the session she let Diana know that she had noticed her nervousness and had been disappointed in it. Diana had hoped to get some feedback about what she could have done better or what this woman would have liked her to do differently, but instead she focused mainly on something that Diana couldn't really change. It was hard to listen to and for a while Diana felt quite upset aboutit She was trying so hard to live up to the many aspects of this job. It was the kind of position in which you were expected to be like superman all the time. Diana was in charge of 10 volunteers who would feel uncomfortable as 102 they tried new things, and were getting all their support and strength from her so there was pressure for her to be up and in control all the time. Therefore when Diana showed a little bit of weakness she was already very hard on herself. She didn't need somebody else reinforcing her downfalls too. On the other hand, she realized that this was just part of the culture. In a way it was also good that people were so honest because, although it was very draining, she never had to try and figure out what people were thinking and they were also open with praise. Such events helped her learn not to take criticism too personally and to thicken her skin. At the end of her first project, 9 months into her job with X, Diana began to get a sense that yes, she could do this. As a volunteer manager there were a lot of factors that were out of her control, but she had survived her first big project and it had gone well. At the end of her first year she had had enough experiences and had achieved enough success to conclude that she had made the right decision by joining X instead of staying with the hospital. Often she sat back and wondered how on earth she had ever wound up being a volunteer manager, but at the same time she Could see that this field was really quite a good fit for her. It felt as though it must have been fate. In spite of all the changes and challenges she had had to deal with throughout the year, Diana realized that she felt a lot more competent and confident in her abilities than she had ever felt in her 10 years of being a nurse As she became more comfortable in the job Diana began to feel less and less that she had to prove to others that she was justified in having her position. She had also begun to develop a rapport with those who had initially doubted her and had a few opportunities to discuss their concerns. After her first year was over Diana was pleased to be given more responsibilities by her superiors. This had a big impact in terms of increasing Diana's feelings of confidence and comfort with the work she was doing. The increase in responsibility was a clear message to Diana that she had lived up to their expectations in terms of her performance. It was freeing to know that she was doing a good job. 103 As Diana took on what seemed like a continuous stream of new challenges, ithelped her to realize that when she took on a new role or new responsibilities she could not expect herself to be perfect immediately. Instead she was entitled to give herself some time to adjust and not be too hard on herself in the meantime. The team of volunteers one worked with was so essential in this type of position, so she gave herself time to take in the dynamics of the team and get to know their strengths and weaknesses. It was very important to her to feel comfortable with the people. She tried not to expect miracles of herself immediately. She also made a habit of sitting back and observing others around her, so that sometimes before she assumed a new role she would have the chance to see how others handled it before trying to take it on herself. Diana was glad to be working in a primarily cooperative environment. It was important for her to feel that the people she worked with were her allies. She found it very difficult when some competitive feelings arose between her and another female employee who had started working for X at the same time. Because they started together, this woman felt she was always being compared with Diana. By nature, Diana could be fairly gregarious and social, and often the whole team collected around her office. The woman did not get along as easily with people and had an office in the back. It was clear that she was feeling quite uncomfortable, so to remedy the situation their supervisor switched their offices, moving Diana into the back and the woman out in front with the rest of the group. Unfortunately this solution only drew attention to the discrepancy and in fact made the situation worse. Everyone now began to congregate in Diana's back office. As luck would have it, Diana's division did really well in her first year, while this woman had a very challenging division. Diana's responsibilities were subsequently increased, and the woman's were cut back a little bit. It was one of those circumstances where, if Diana had not been going through her own struggles with becoming comfortable in her shoes, she thinks she might have been able to deal better with the situation. However, in another sense it was out of her hands! Diana would have liked to be able to sit down and talk to the woman about it but she wasn't easy to approach on 104 the subject. The dynamic that had emerged was really nobody's fault and as time went by it became clear that the situation had less to do with Diana and more to do with the woman herself. It wasn't a comfortable feeling, but it reinforced to Diana that the profession and her environment was actually a very good fit for her, and was perhaps less of a good fit for her co-worker. It also helped her to see that she didn't want to be in a work situation where people were evaluated and pitted against each other, damaging their self-confidence. It felt healthier to her to be in a place where there was a lot of teamwork and mutual support, Diana was not fond of handling conflict. In the past people had often been able to wrap her around their little finger. She often feared that perhaps she was a little too soft to be able to manage other people well. If somebody wasn't performing up to par, she would have a difficult time bringing them in and laying down the law, after going through the process of figuring out why they were not doing their j ob She went through experiences of having people crying and telling her how unhappy they were. She listened as they expounded on their problems and explained why they weren't doing things. In her first year she had some trouble knowing what to do with this. It was hard to juggle what was best for the person with what she knew was in the best interests of herself or the division she was managing. However, as she gained more experience with people, she realized that she could perhaps handle it if someone walked away being a little bit angry with her, or if they left unhappy with a decision that she had made. This was an important turning point for her because she had sincerely doubted whether she was cut out fortius work but her experience reinforced more and more to her that she actually handled it quite well. She got better at finding that fine line between being a good listener, being perceptive, and providing people with opportunities, while also looking out for the interests of the organization. She recognized that there were limits where the responsibilities of her job ended and the responsibilities of the other person's commitment began. Sometimes this meant she had to say to people, "This is your job. I will do everything I can to make this job more desirable for you and find your strengths and give you 105 opportunities, but at the end of the day perhaps this is not the right job for you and you are going to have to make that decision;" Diana's ability to stand her ground with people was put to the test in her second year. She had been given two divisions to manage, and one of them was the largest division at X, with the greatest number of people working under her. It was overwhelming and exhausting work on its own, especially during a project. Diana had one loaned volunteer in particular who was really very bright and good at what she did, but she was also experiencing problems and had her own agenda for certain things. There were some uncomfortable times in their working relationship, but at the end of the year Diana felt that she hadn't backed down. She had not found it easy to confront her on certain things, but she hadn't compromised and at the end of the year when they sat down together there was a real honesty between them. The volunteer was really grateful to Diana for working through things with her and Diana felt she and the organization had also benefited. Diana had received optimum performance from her, although not without a lot of tears and uneasy times. Diana realized that people had lots of other things going on in their lives and that it was not necessarily the job that was causing those troubles: It was important to remember to keep those things separate and remain professional, while at the same time be the type of person with whom others could be comfortable and honest. When her second year was over Diana felt that, even though there had been so many balls to juggle, everything had gone well and she had done a good job. At the same time that Diana was learning to manage other people, she also felt she was being managed really well. Diana's immediate supervisor was an excellent mentor to her. Diana's supervisor had never had a mentor herself and felt it was something that was really missing in her own experience. She really took Diana under her wing and over the years provided her with a great number of opportunities. Their relationship was very significant in Diana's development and progress. With every new experience, Diana was able to debrief with her supervisor regarding the events that had happened, how she experienced them, and whether her supervisor could suggest anything she might have done differently. It meant a lot 106 to Diana to be able to rely on her for support and constructive feedback. Diana felt totally comfortable speaking to her. In return for so much support, Diana was incredibly loyal and gave back as much as she received. It was really a reciprocal kind of relationship and it was gratifying for both of them. On one level they related almost as peers. Diana's supervisor was very open with her about the challenges she herself was facing; Diana was her confidant and they looked out for each other. At the same time however there was no mistaking that she was Diana's boss and, particularly at the beginning, Diana relied on her very much for reinforcement and support. At the end of her second year with X, Diana sometimes reflected on the changes her life had endured over the last few years. While she still felt she lived a fairly charmed life, up until her father's death it seemed to Diana that she had lived a very charmed life. All she had done was work at the hospital and take regular holidays and live in a nice apartment and socialize with friends. It had been fun and she didn't regret a minute of it, but then suddenly it seemed that she started having to deal with things. She had taken on a job that would make her sick to her stomach sometimes when she had to get up to talk in front of 300 people, or when she was faced with a volunteer who was really unhappy with her because she happened to be the person managing them. These were not things she was comfortable with and sometimes she had wondered why she was doing this to herself. Life was challenging her oh all fronts. Her mother hadn't been doing very well during this time and things were uncomfortable between them. Diana had had a bad skiing accident and ended up having to have a major operation to repair ligament damage in her knees. She had gone back to work too quickly after the operation because there was so much responsibility with her job and it was all hers. She felt she was letting people down if she stayed off for more than 3 weeks even though 10 days of that she had spent in the hospital. It had been hard to deal with these things and in facing up to many of these challenges Diana sometimes wondered to herself, "am I going to survive this?" Now, coming out on the other side of many of these events she realized that, yes, she could get through these things. Looking back she saw that perhaps 107 some of the things she did, like coming back to work too early after her operation, were a little foolish and that she might do them differently i f she did it over again, but nonetheless she had made it through. As difficult as it had sometimes been, this time strengthened her and helped Diana prove to herself that she was a lot more resilient than she knew. It felt good to be able to rely on that sense of herself as a survivor. It had been an extremely hectic and challenging few years and her work at X completely consumed her during this time. However, despite the challenges she had faced, her time at X was also a great experience for Diana. As she worked through her initial struggles and insecurities, she discovered things about herself that she had never realized. Often she found out that the things about herself that she had always considered her weaknesses were actually seen by the people around her as her strengths. When she had first started to do public speaking, for instance, she had been really uncomfortable with it and had been really hard on herself for not being more polished, but eventually she found out that it was her sincerity that came across and was appreciated by people. In dealing with the volunteers and her fellow volunteer managers, she often worried that she was too sensitive and concerned about others to be a good manager. In the end it turned out that it was this humanity that people responded to and that enabled her to form strong working relationships with others. In Diana's third year she began to get a couple of job offers from out in the community. The job offers didn't make her feel a whole lot more impressed with herself but they were reassuring. It was encouraging to know that there were opportunities for her to move on and do other things as well as maybe gain some of her life back. She had begun to realize that as much as she enjoyed her experience at X , there were a lot of sacrifices that had to be made in terms of lifestyle because work with the organization was so all-consuming. The people at X were so intertwined in each other's lives, and although they were all her very good friends, it wasn't the type of culture in which people could continue to work year after year without becoming drained or burnt out. The intensity was exciting but also exhausting. 108 Diana had also just started living with her fiance and, while he was proud of the work she was doing, he wanted to have a little more of Diana's time than she was able to spare while working for X She was starting to get antisocial and irritable at home when anybody called her in her off hours because they were so few and so precious. She wanted to be able to have a bit more of a normal hfe outside of the organization She would miss the supportive environment of X but at the same time she no longer needed it in quite the same way either. Finally, at X people progressed by moving up through divisions and the division ahead of Diana didn't really appeal to her. Rather than there being anything wrong with working at X, there just seemed to be less and less motivation for Diana to stay. She began to feel that she had gotten what she needed out of working for the organization. It felt right to move on. When a third job offer came up for her Diana was interested. Her mentor was moving to a large educational institution in the city to set up and become the director of its volunteer management department. The department would focus on a different type of volunteer management than Diana was used to. If she transferred with her mentor, Diana would get a chance to gain experience with this new type of volunteer management, which she felt was going to become increasingly important in the future. She would also have the wonderful opportunity of being able to observe and be a part of starting up a new volunteer management structure from ground zero. It was quite cOmmon for people to leave after 4 or 5 years with X because the type of work they did really zapped them of their energy. In volunteer management it was the norm for people to help each other progress and develop in their careers. It was considered beneficial, rather than threatening, for people to leave an organization in search of different experiences. There was a recognition that they might later come back with more skills than when they left. As a result, the people of the organization were very understanding and supportive of Diana's decision to accept a job elsewhere. She left X with an open door. She was grateful for the experience at the organization and she had an invitation to perhaps return sometime in the future. 109 In her new position, Diana was a senior project manager and was technically the right hand person to her mentor, the director. She was managing a different type of program than she had at X, and she had a broader range of responsibilities. She continued to be her mentor's confidant, and took things on for her, but she also filled in for her when she wasn't there. The two of them were very different people but they worked well together. Diana's mentor was very out-going and liked being in control and was out in the forefront of everything, while Diana was quite content to be behind the scenes. They were like yin and yang. Her mentor could feel complete comfort in leaving a lot of the technical stuff for Diana, and Diana appreciated having someone else out in the limelight, which she did not relish. She did not want to have to get up in front of the board of the institution and command their attention, but she really enjoyed working with the volunteers and being part of the executive team. Her mentor had to fight a few battles to get the volunteer department in place and Diana felt really fortunate to be able to observe this experience. Her mentor was really open to Diana's ideas so she felt as though she had a lot of input as well, which was very exciting. Again she was presented with many new things to learn since she was now working in an entirely different field of volunteer management. She felt continuously challenged. While Diana was not exactly hard on herself, she always tended to question whether she was the right person for the position she was in. The skills that she possessed were rarely immediately obvious to her and often it took some feedback from an outside person for her to appreciate what she brought to each job: If there was a better person for the job, then Diana would have preferred that either the other person be in the job instead of her, or else that she go out and obtain the experience necessary to make her the best person for the job. As she had progressed through volunteer management she had experienced enough new challenges to make it common for her to question herself in this way. Therefore, when Diana began working in her new area of responsibilities, it was natural for her to go through this process again. Many people who had positions such as hers tended to be social workers so Diana went through a period after she took on this new position in which she wondered whether a social 110 worker might be a better person to do her job. After a while she decided to talk it through with her mentor. Her mentor and some other professionals with whom Diana worked were able to point out to her that the skills she was bringing to the job were equally as valuable as having social work training. That validation was exactly what she needed and allowed Diana to appreciate her own unique skill set. It also freed her to have more confidence in her ability go ahead with the job. Because their department was so new, Diana, her mentor, and the other volunteer managers had to do a lot of public relations type work educating members of the institution about the kind of work they were doing. She was no longer in an organization where everybody shared the same job and the same goals. As they strove to get the new volunteer department established, Diana had to learn to frame their work so that other department managers of the institution could understand what they did and why they did it. For example, Diana would often take a day to attend social events involving alumni of the institution. To volunteer managers, it was known that volunteer recruitment was essential to their work but to others, it didn't have that immediate credibility There had always been a lot of mutual respect in the relationship between Diana and her mentor, but as time went on and Diana gained in confidence and experience, the hierarchy that had initially existed between them began to diminish Largely this was due to the fact that Diana felt less of a need now for such constant reinforcement and support, and was emerging as more of an equal with her mentor. When she had first gone into volunteer management it had been such as big career change that, for the first couple of years, she had needed a lot of reinforcement that she had made the right decision and that the work was a good fit for her. Now, after 5 years of very positive work experiences, she has proven this to herself. As she gained more comfort and confidence with her skills and her abilities, she had outgrown the supports that initially had been so necessary. Diana continued to be very close to her mentor, but also began to look forward to experiencing other relationships. Even the new challenges she was experiencing didn't renew that need for reinforcement. Now she had more I l l responsibility than she'd ever had, but instead of feeling intimidated, the more challenges that were put in front of her the more aggressive she became. She felt confident that she was up to these challenges. After they had been working at the institution for a fewyears, Diana's mentor left her position as director to move on to other things. Diana, being next in charge, was made acting director for 6 months while the heads of the institution searched for a new candidate. It was another big transition period for Diana. Her mentor had been such a strong manager and commanded such a powerful presence that the staff had always seen themselves reporting to her even though Diana had been her right hand person. It was a bit awkward for the 12 staff members to report now to Diana, firstly because they had always seen her as a peer and secondly because they all knew that she was in charge for only a limited period of time. Each staff member seemed to present their own unique challenges to her. Some seemed to be feeling her out to see how much they could get away with, and Diana was pleased with herself to see how much she was living up to her role. She could see how originally they had probably believed she might be a bit of a push-over, but now they were seeing more strength in her than they had anticipated. She didn't back down from her responsibilities and a level of respect existed between them On the whole, the staff seemed to recognize she had assumed the role and she found they were reasonably comfortable reporting to her and getting feedback from her on the work they had done. What was even more surprising to Diana was that she herself felt quite comfortable with her role and she didn't feel a need for anyone to tell her that she was doing a good job at handling her new position. She just felt content that everything was going quite well. Recently Diana had the opportunity to prove to her co-workers that she was indeed willing to take on a challenge and deal with unpleasant situations. Some problems were occurring with an upcoming big project and Diana could see that if the project didn't come off well it was going to reflect very poorly on the whole department: She knew that confronting the issue would make a few people uncomfortable, but at the same time she also felt that if she 112 didn't deal with it, it would become an even greater problem. She pulled the group together and definitely, it was uncomfortable, but she felt that she couldn't worry about how she was going to come across. It was something that would affect the whole team. The outcome, however, was that she actually gained a lot of confidence from the group who saw that she would help them with their issues. She ended up taking the problem to the president of the institution and the executive board and basically told them that if people didn't get behind the endeavor then she was recommending that they pull the project. The consequence was that people started showing a whole lot of ownership towards the affair. With these actions Diana felt she had proved to her staff that she had a lot more backbone than they expected, and she also showed the individuals who were involved in the event that she wasn't just going to let them sink or swim with their problems. She had showed them that their jobs were all of their jobs and that she was looking out for the team. Even the people who were at first made uncomfortable by her actions expressed gratitude to her in the end. They themselves had been nervous about what was happening but had been afraid to say so. By the time Diana assumed the position of acting director, she had come a long way in terms of her management skills and she had also achieved a healthy balance in her own life. She had gained a much greater comfort level in her work as a volunteer manager and acquired time management skills that came from learning what was important and what was not as important in her job. At first it had been so easy to go off on tangents She was constantly assessing what she needed to do to manage a job and what she should let go. There were so many aspects to this type of position. There was a big PR. component and a myriad of demands were placed on her by people. As time passed and she gained more practice and experience it became more automatic for her to recognize what she needed to do to manage a job well. This had increased her confidence and her efficiency and left her more time to do other things in her life that were important to her. In trying to attend to all the new responsibilities of the new position, however, Diana found that again she had to stretch to handle all the varying demands placed on her. Recently 113 she was approached by one of her staff members who wanted to let her know that another staff member had been feeling angry with Diana. Diana had not seen as much of this staff member over the last few months because she had been overwhelmed by meetings and engagements. She addressed it with the woman who admitted that she was indeed angry that Diana wasn't taking the time to say hello, so they set up a meeting to discuss her feelings. In that meeting Diana let her know that her points were well taken and that she was glad the woman had told her how she was feeling. Diana respected that it was important to her and those connections and relationships were important to Diana as well, even though she had been letting tMngs slip while she was so overwhelmed and busy. Diana also had the opportunity to communicate to the woman just how busy she was and why this apparent neglect had occurred. The woman understood that her expectations of Diana hadn't been realistic. After this reconciliation, it came out that the woman was also feeling troubled by many other things about her work situation. They talked for a long time and Diana made a commitment to help her work through the issues that were troubling her. If they couldn't address them within the context of their current workplace, then Diana would help her look for solutions elsewhere. It was a huge burden off the woman's chest to be able to tell Diana that she might want to leave without burning her bridges. Their meeting reinforced to Diana that these kinds of things, like the time she spent talking with people, made the difference between a good manager and being a not so good manager. It was important to assess continually whether she was doing a good job of it because as she got busier and busier it was easy to let those things slide. Diana still doesn't consider herself a person who has incredible confidence. She is still a bit hard on herself and it is in her nature continually to want to improve. However, it has been nice to be able to let go of the need for reinforcement that characterized her early experiences of taking on positions of responsibility and authority. Right now she is going home every night feeling pretty comfortable in her shoes. People told her that taking on her current position for only 6 months would actually be harder than taking it on as a permanent 114 job In some ways this has been true but in others it has been really good for her. Before she took it on Diana still doubted whether she was really cut out for such a position, but the experience has made her realize that it actually feels like a pretty good fit. She is still happy to be behind the scenes, but sees now that she also enjoys the challenges and responsibilities of a real management position. She has realized that a job like this one might be something she would like to pursue some day in her future. She compares the experience to that of baby-sitting one's niece for the weekend, knowing that one can eventually give her back. She has been able to experiment wifh the situation, with the comfort of knowing that she doesn't have to assume any long term responsibility. This opportunity has given Diana the chance to observe the strengths that she brings to a leadership position and what she feels she still needs to work oh. She is very focused and tends to look at all the options before making a decision Because of her thoroughness, people have confidence that she will get the job done. Things don't slip through the cracks if she can help it. This can be to the detriment of her personal life because she will stay at work forever if she knows something has to be done, but it does make those who work for her feel more secure. She considers it very important to have good working relationships with the people of the team and others really appreciate her sensitivity to what they are going through. Sometimes however, Diana wonders if she is perhaps a bit too sensitive. She will tend to take on another's responsibilities in an effort to protect them when she thinks they are overloaded, without looking down at her own plate to see that it is also spilling over. She is working on becoming better at protecting and not over-extending herself. As much as she enjoys her work, right now it is really important to her to try and regain some sense of balance in her life. When Diana reflects back on her move into volunteer management, she sometimes can't believe that she took the risk she did by leaving the hospital to join X, which resulted in so many major changes in her life. It wasn't in her background Her family hadn't been encouraging her to take on more challenges. She didn't have a significant Other at the time so she didn't have to answer to anybody. From time to time she still looks back wistfully at her 115 old lifestyle. She has health problems now from her skiing accident and when work becomes exhausting they worsen. She has a lot less free time and a lot more pressure than she had back then, but at the same time she finds this profession incredibly rewarding. As a nurse, she used to go to work and think, "gee, I can't wait until the end of my shift." It wasn't that she hated her job, but there just wasn't any kind of excitement. Now, although she's not exactly excited to get up and drive in to work everyday, she is always busy and involved and she's usually frustrated that the day goes by so quickly. She feels fulfilled. When work becomes overwhelming she tries to remind herself that these were changes she had sought out - this is what she needed and felt driven to attain. As acting director Diana now sits on the executive team of the institution, and is working with the president and vice-president. She credits volunteer management with giving her a unique position within the institution. Many people work their way up through the ranks and have to endure years of drudge work while volunteer management has allowed her to work on exciting things with people in power right from the beginning of her experience. In a sense Diana doesn't anticipate ever feeling completely comfortable with what she is doing. Every year since her first beginnings at X, the profession she is in has presented her with challenges and she is always learning something new. She never feels she has to go right back to the beginning in terms of her development however, and it is this constant requirement for growth which keeps her engaged in her work. She may not stay in volunteer management forever, but there are certainly enough opportunities to keep her going for as long as she would like. 116 Chapter 8 Kathryn's Chronology entered university to pursue an undergraduate degree. began working as a shift employee at a major service organization. promoted to a supervisory position after 1 year. returned to university to complete undergraduate degree. completed an additional professional degree. worked for a private company for a couple of years before starting her own small business, closed her business, hired to work as a research analyst for a large corporation, promoted to a managerial position in a different department returned to university to pursue another post-graduate degree; maintained position at corporation. promoted again within the corporation, this time to create and head a new department. 117 Chapter 9 Thematic Movement #1 Isolation to Belonging - The Search for a Supportive Work Environment For the women in this study, the process of becoming a leader was characterized in part by the search for a supportive work environment. The visibility of this struggle and the manner in which the participants sought to fulfill their needs for support differed from woman to woman, and was the result of their coping choices and the nature of the work environment in which they found themselves. However, it can be said that all of these women felt an overarching need to find a work environment that meshed harmoniously with their style, their values, and their goals. One participant, Diana, very easily found the support she needed throughout her story, but the others all eventually chose to move beyond their initial work settings to seek or create new environments which could fulfill their support needs more fully. It is sometimes in contrast to Diana's experience that the other women's search for a supportive environment is best illuminated. The movement from a less congruent work environment to a more congruent work environment is a vital component of the process of becoming a leader. These stories show us that without the support network of like-minded individuals and a corresponding feeling of congruence with their work culture, women feel restricted by their isolation and are impeded from freely and comfortably pursuing their vision. The searchfor 'belonging,' or for a congruent support network, seems to form two general periods which roughly correspond with a woman's changing needs for support as she develops as a leader. For all of the women in this study, there was a common experience of incongruence with their environments at the beginnings of their stories. This incongruence was related in part to the fact that they were novices at their jobs. It was also related, for all of the women except Diana, to the fact that they found themselves in traditional work cultures founded on norms and values that were different from their own. The women first sought to belong to their work places in terms of their performance, in that the initial period of their 118 stories was characterized by a drive to be accepted as equal and valued participants in their work environments Certain qualities in the women's work environments either facilitated or hindered, through their absence, this integration This acceptance was important because it enabled them to judge accurately whether the incongruence between themselves and their environments was due to essential differences of values and vision, or was simply caused by a lack of ability to measure up in terms of their performance. In this first period then, all the women seem to most desire 'performance related support' - support that enabled them to grow from their initial, subordinate, novice role in their organizations to a more central, valued sense of belonging. As the women gained in competence and confidence however, reached positions which have traditionally symbolized belonging in their organizations, and developed clear ideas about leadership and their professions, they outgrew this need for performance-related support. It became more important for them at this point to have access to a network of people who understood and supported them in the pursuit of their vision. For four of the women in the study, this transition involved a recognition that their needs could not be fulfilled within their established work environment. To fulfill their need for 'vision-related' support, they decided to move beyond the established organizational communities within which they had 'grown up' to create new environments containing the right balance of support and independence necessary to enable them to follow their dreams. First Impressions - Meeting the Existing Work Environment & The Discomfort of Being Different In Terms of Being a Novice. The beginnings of these stories are characterized for all of the participants by a sensation of'difference' that comes from being a novice - from riot yet having proven oneself and one's abilities through accumulated performance. Ann, for example, describedfeeling like an "outsider" when she first began at the law firm, because she had yet to figure out how to function and prove herself in that environment. She also pointed 119 out that this was an "uncomfortable" state to be in. As novices it was inevitable that the women should lack credibility in their workplaces, but the resulting sensation of'not fitting in' was unpleasant and provided them with a strong motivation to try and prove themselves in order to earn acceptance and belonging. Lynne felt like an "outsider" when, as a young female articling student, she represented a new entity to the partners of the firm, but to overcome this she struggled to learn and perform well at her job, even in the absence of her superiors' expectations for her. Even Diana felt some pressure to justify her position to others who doubted her credentials, and she desperately wanted to live up to the expectations of the people who had gambled on her. In Terms of Being a Woman. For Lisa, Lynne, Kathryn, and Arm, this sense of isolation or 'difference' in their work environments had another component which stemmed from their participation in the traditional, male-dominated worlds of business, finance, and law. As many of them pointed out in their interviews, it was not the actual gender composition of their workplaces which was problematic. Lisa; for example, has since gone on to find a very congruent and supportive work environment in cooperation with male partners. Rather, it was the culture of such traditional workplaces that created difficulty for them because there was little space for the women's perspectives, values, and voices to be heard or expressed. These women did not only have to strive to belong to their work communities in terms of their performance at their jobs, they also struggled to belong and find adequate support in work cultures that did not automatically feel congruent with their values and their styles. As Ann describes, they were like "immigrants" in a foreign land, and they had to make decisions about how and to what degree they wished to assimilate. Often the women did not recognize at first the nature of the situation in which they found themselves and they felt quite ambivalent about assimilating once they did. Both Lisa and Ann mentioned that they first had to recognize that a distinct culture was operating in their workplace, then had to take some time to observe and learn the norms and rules of this culture before they could figureout how to get involved in "the game" on their "own terms." 120 The women were understandably reluctant to repress or discard their personal beliefs and style in order to conform and this reluctance, combined with a natural desire to be included, resulted in their ambivalence. Lynne, for example, found it awkward to be excluded from the "rough and ready" lawyers of the firm and wished she could feel part of the group, but at the same time she "was sure that she didn't want to be included in their carryings on." Lisa pointed out that, while she could see it was important to belong to the "old boys' network" for business reasons, she too "wasn't always sure she wanted to be part of it either." The women dealt with their situations and ambivalence in different ways, depending on their personalities and the restrictions of their individual work environments. Ann coped by consciously committing herself to a guideline of personal integrity. She strove to behave in ways that felt "true to herself," even when this resulted in personal challenges or put some pressure on her work culture to accommodate her. Lisa, although she felt it wasn't really "her nature," eventually got "into the game" and worked within the competitive framework of the accounting firm because it seemed the best way to achieve acceptance and recognition of her approach. Later, after she had been made a partner, she made choices about the manner of her participation in the social network of the "boys' club," participating in some activities and also building up relationships with clients on her own. Lisa valued her right to choose the manner of her participation in this environment, and when she was excluded from the fishing trip she sought to protect this right and resisted her coworkers' assumptions about the nature of her belonging to their social network. Although the women all found ways to cope with being "different" and managed to keep it in perspective, they were not able to overcome the feeling of incongruence between themselves and their environments. In terms of achieving a really "good fit" with their initial work cultures, the women were never able to feel completely satisfied. Because the women had difficulty belonging to their work environments on the basis of their gender, it became even more important to them to earn a sense of belonging on the basis of their abilities. Their participation in traditional male-dominated fields added fuel to the 121 women's desire to fulfill their organizations' expectations for them in terms of performance. Kathryn, for example, could see that despite her capabilities she wasn't accorded the same "potential for advancement" in her work community as the young men with whom she worked, so she became determined to "outshine" the others and prove her eligibility by hard work and very long hours. The partners at Lynne's firm "made her pay for it" when she took a few months off to have her first child. After her maternity leave was over they arid they "continued to be hard on her," Lynne "became determined to prove to them that they were wrong" and devoted herself to working "even harder to show them that she really could do the job." The women felt driven td first eliminate the incongruence between themselves and their organizations in terms of their skills and abilities - to know that they belonged and had 'made it' in the traditional sense - before they could feel free to consider where the greater differences lay This period of striving to gain full recognition for their efforts and integrate themselves through their performance is thus an important part of the women's process of seeking and securing a truly supportive work environment. Phase One - Trying to Assimilate Through Performance Contributing Factors - Mentorship and Guidance. During the early part of this period as they strove to earn a place in their organizations through their performance, the women shared a need for support in the form of guidance and mentorship. They yearned for 'support from above' to guide them and facilitate their development as they learned the requirements of their occupations and adjusted to increasing responsibilities and authority. Their needs were met by their work environments, however, with varying degrees of fulfillment. Of the five participants, Diana's work place seemed most in tune with her need for support at this phase of her development. She still had to earn 'belonging' within her organization in terms of successfully meeting the requirements of her job, but this process was facilitated by a mentor who amply fulfilled her need for reinforcement and support and acted as both a role model and an ally. Diana also had access to a cooperative community of fellow 'learners' who she could 122 lean on for support. They shared the same focus and goals and struggles, and they generously and openly provided each other with recognition and feedback. Ann, also, had individuals around her who furthered her development as an equal member of her organization. Ann's superiors provided her with new tasks and responsibilities according to her growing level of readiness. They gave her room to "flail around" with new challenges yet stood ready to provide extra guidance, information, or emotional support when it was necessary. At the same time, since the creation of a supportive relationship between oneself and one's work environment is an interactive process, Ann also sought to build credibility with those around her. She cultivated relationships and sought, through diligent work, to earn her superiors' confidence and trust in her abilities. For Ann and Diana, doing their jobs well meant that they were relatively assured of earning the respect of those in their environment. It was "freeing," Diana points out, to receive feedback which clearly confirmed that she was doing a good job. Contributing Factors - Feedback. A woman's work environment may not always respond so readily to her evolving needfor support, however, and recognition of their performance was quite a long time coming for some of the women in this study. For these women, this phase of trying to attain 'performance-related support' was characterized by a bit of a battle. All of the women in this study worked very hard and put in long hours as they sought to prove themselves and earn a place of belonging in their organizations. However, while this period was fairly rewarding for the women who received feedback letting them know that their efforts were being recognized and appreciated, it tended to be frustrating for those who didn't get this feedback. This is particularly obvious in the case of Lynne, who struggled through her early learning experiences in an environment devoid of expectations or guidance from above. Without any reinforcement and recognition of her efforts to know that she was doing a good job, her self-esteem suffered and she could attain no sense of legitimacy in the field in which she worked. Lisa toO, struggled to be recognized and get feedback in an environment which did not share her focus or understand her approach. She was further isolated by a culture of competition which prevented her for a time from reaching out to other 123 individuals who could give her the support she required for her endeavors. Kathryn, although she had the validation of knowing that her boss had requested that she be assigned to work with him, struggled against having her efforts taken for granted by her boss and by others in her department. Contributing Factors - Alternative Sources of Support. However, although the struggle for adequate support may have been more pronounced in cases where the woman's work environment was less responsive to her needs, these stories show that, over time, women may find very creative means of obtaining the support they needed. Lynne is a good example of this. In the absence of adequate guidance and mentoring from her superiors, she developed strong relationships with the office staff, who in turn provided her with guidance, validation, and a sense of community. Lisa relied on her own inner resources and her developing vision to guide her as she adjusted to new responsibilities, took chances, and learned from her mistakes. Kathryn also relied on her own faith in her potential and competence, and consciously recognized when the lack of feedback had more to do with her superior's management style than with her performance. Contributing Factors - Outside Recognition; All the women enhanced their sense of belonging inside their organizations by looking outside their organizations for sources of feedback and support. In particular, industry support played an important role by providing some of the women with a source of validation for their efforts when recognition was slow in coming from within their work environments. In some cases, it actually fostered their acceptance into their organizations. For Lisa, public industry recognition for her work felt like an important validation of her approach, and also played an important role in bringing her to the attention of the people within the firm. Kathryn also, found that positive recognition from the industry with which she worked gave her confidence and balanced the lack of recognition she received within her workplace. For Diana, although she had not experienced a lack of recognition and acceptance within her organization, industry recognition in the form of other job offers did allow her to feel that she had earned a place in the larger field of her profession. 124 For Ann too, recognition from the industry confirmed and enhanced her sense that she had emerged as an equal within her organization. For Lynne, although positive feedback from other lawyers and her clients never brought her the recognition she would have liked from her superiors within the law practice, it did provide her with enough positive feedback about her abilities to allow her to realize that the lack of recognition from within the firm was not due to some failing of her own. External recognition and support allowed Lynneto s e e that the lack of recognition and sense of belonging she experienced within the firm was due to reasons unrelated to her performance and beyond her control. Contributing Factors - Educational Credentials. Educational credentials also seemed to play a role in fostering a woman's sense of belonging as she moved towards a more central and valued role in her organization. Lisa took management courses and workshops. She found them interesting and beneficial experiences, but they were also a means of enhancing her credibility within the accounting firm For Lynne, educating herself by enrolling in accounting and office support programs was one of the only ways she could ensure that she was learning to do things properly. She was enhancing her credibility with herself, as well as trying to gain recognition from within the law firm. Kathryn also points out that, although she enjoyed and benefited from obtaining her graduate degree in many ways, it was also a "tool that provide[d] her with credibility." She found that people had more faith in her decisions and actions once they believed that she had been trained to do them, even though the way she actually operated did not change significantly. , Contributing Factors - Promotions and Titles. Promotions and titles came to be important markers or symbols of progress as the women strove to gain acceptance in their work environments. After several years of feeling "like a square peg in a round hole," Lisa's need for recognition and acceptance resolved into her goal to be made a partner. At one level she knew that she didn't really "fit" in the bureaucracy of the big firm, but at the same time she yearned for the concrete recognition of being told "you've made it." Ann discusses the useful qualities of titles such as her VP designation in terms of establishing credibility and 125 symbolizing authority. Much like degrees and training, they were helpful to her in that they reinforced the legitimacy of her participation as an equal in her work world and substantiated her own internal sense of "arrival." Phase Two - Looking Beyond the Existing Environment Transitional Period - Redefining Support. It is often after these symbols have been attained however, and an ultimate level of belonging within their organizations has been reached, that the women in this study found they no longer craved these symbols and this type of belonging in quite the same way. Lisa points out that "once she had conquered" the competitive hierarchical structure of her workplace* she was "free to see that she didn't really value it:" After being promoted to VP, Ann also reached the point where she said to herself, "Okay, I can do this now. I have conquered this so I can now let go of my need to conquer this, and I can start to explore other areas:" For Lisa and Ann, the attainment of those goals, which symbolized their acceptance and worthiness to belong to their organizations on the basis of their performance, prompted them to look more closely at their deeper needs and evaluate their environments in terms of what they still found lacking. As Ann expresses it, there is something "freeing" about this stage of "arrival" This "arrival" freed them to let go of their adherence to the external system of goals and values perpetuated by their work environments, and turn inward to examine and give credence to their own internal and more personally held framework of needs and priorities. Lynne's story shows that this transition may still occur even in the absence of any significant promotions or concrete validation of performance from within the organization. In Lynne's case, positive and validating feedback from alternative sources provided her with some way of knowing that her performance was adequate This knowledge, coupled with a realization that the lack of support she received from her superiors actually had very little to do with her* resulted in a paradigm shift that enabled her to recognize that the firm was never 126 going to give her the kind of support she wanted and that she had little choice but to seek it elsewhere. UpOn examination, Lisa, Ann, Lynne- and Kathryn all came to the realization that the feeling of "difference" between themselves and their work cultures was not connected simply to their ability to perform, but was rooted in a deeper incongruence between their own values, styles, and goals, and those of their organizations. Ann recognized that as much as she enjoyed her job and felt accepted at the law firm, there was little room in that environment for her to satisfy her desire for a more positive, cooperative, and humane focus to her work. She was no longer content to fulfill this aspect of herself only through part-time community involvement. Lisa also concluded that she needed to work with people who shared her focus and respected her way of doing things. She had tried directly addressing the issue of support with her colleagues and was unsatisfied with the results. She also realized that being the minority voice, in an organization comprised of individuals who collectively held different values, meant that she had limited control over the course of her business' destiny. Lynne and Kathryn both realized that they would not be able to completely implement their styles of management and ideas about their work from within their original work settings. They, too, chose to move on to work with people who shared their priorities, respected their goals, and supported their vision. Diana, by contrast, was always surrounded by people who shared her values and respected her goals; Although her needs and priorities changed as she developed and although she did move beyond her original work setting in order to accommodate these changes, she never had to venture too far outside or break significantly from her original work culture because the larger field of her profession supported her growth and easily accommodated her desire for new challenges. Because her values and goals were congruent and supported by her work culture, Diana never had to take it upon herself to create something new. Like Diana, Ann was able to leave her original workplace without creating much discord. However^ Ann also had to grapple with the fear that came from sacrificing a work 127 environment that was familiar and secure, despite its restrictions, in favor of an unknown which she herself was responsible for bringing to fruition. Lynne also grappled with this fear once she chose to gamble on her beliefs and vision over the proven and established, if not altogether satisfactory, reality of the old law firm. Both she and Lisa paid the price of lost relationships as a result of their decision to move on, which caused them some sadness. However, on the whole their decisions to follow their dreams, leaving less congruent environments in favor of trying to create new ones, seems to have been well worth the sacrifice. Self-Determination - Fundamental Characteristics of the Created Work Environment Support & Congruence. Their current work environments provide these women with the resources to work and lead in the ways they want to and allow them to function in their jobs with a far greater degree of comfort. No longer coping with questions of belonging and acceptance, they are able to focus the bulk of their energies on the implementation of their goals and dreams. Lynne's law firm is now filled with individuals who appreciate her philosophy of management and who are in sync with her efforts to create a harmonious and democratic workplace. They respect her ideas for the business and they enable and support her in her mission to serve clients and run an efficient office. Lisa's new work situation allows her to feel more comfortable and professional in her approach to her job because she has the support of partners who share her focus and her goals, yet she also has the freedom of knowing that they respect her capabilities and her decisions. Kathryn also felt freed by the unqualified respect and encouragement she now receives from her new supervisors. She no longer has anyone "breathing down her neck," and she has had "the time of her life" setting up and running her new department. Kathryn, Lisa, and Lynne have all enjoyed being able to establish cooperative work cultures in their new work settings that feel more suited to their natural inclinations and their philosophies of management. Ann, by the end of her story, is still in the process of creating a new environment for herself after deciding that she could not do 128 the work she wanted within the environment of the law firm. However, taking the risk to head out on her own, a decision that has felt true to her innermost beliefs and faith in herself, has given her a sense of exhilaration and vitality that confirms the value of her decision and her quest. She feels empowered by the respect she has earned in the world of law, and she considers entrepreneurship to be the vehicle most likely to provide her with the autonomy necessary to do the kind of work she wants to do in the way she wants to do it. It is a balance of independence and support within their find work environments allows the women to feel comfortable in leading the way they want to lead. The realization of this type of environment is the end point of a complex process in which they must come to terms with questions of their own competence and right to belong to their work environments before they are ready to look critically at the established system, rejecting or preserving aspects of it as it serves their vision. This process is an integral part of a woman's development as a leader in that, through this process, she may come to identify, seek, and secure the elements of her environment which feel congruent with her values and goals and which she requires in the pursuit of her vision. 129 Thematic Movement #2 The Development of Confidence and Competence The women in this study experience a growth in competence and confidence as their stories unfold, and this growth is an integral part of their development as leaders. This broad development is characterized overall by a transition from unproven potential, uncultivated capabilities, and self-doubt, to more fully developed competencies and assurance in their ability to survive and succeed in their world. It is a dual natured process, comprising the objective accumulation of skills and development of abilities (the development of competence) and the multiple subjective emotional transitions which correspond to a woman's changing awareness of her abilities (the development of confidence). The objective and subjective aspects of the process are two sides of the same coin and often occur simultaneously. The central dynamic that propels this continuum of developing confidence and competence is a series of actions or activities that escalate in difficulty and diversity. These women accepted opportunities tb act in increasingly difficult and varying situations with escalating levels of responsibility, and were willing to be challenged and tested. We will look at this central dynamic in terms of what it provided the women, what facilitated or hindered the process, and the impact of success or failure within the process. Their stories illustrate that confidence and competence combined to give the women a sense of agency and the ability to control their destinies and therefore were of vital importance in their evolution as leaders. The Central Dynamic of the Process - A Series of Escalating Actions All of the women expanded their skills and developed their abilities by taking on a series of escalating tasks or activities which continuously challenged them to stretch beyond their present level of competence and confidence. This series of escalating actions is the central dynamic underlying the development of confidence and competence. These actions were characterized by increasing levels of challenge and difficulty as well as by increasing 130 diversification. For some of the women their progress was gradual and guided while for others it was sporadic and self-initiated, depending on the nature of their work environments and the type of support they received there. This dynamic required the women to overcome both internal and external obstacles in order to further their progress along the continuum. Increasing Challenge and Difficulty. From the time they first entered the workplace the women generally took on activities that increased in terms of challenge and difficulty. This dynamic of continual challenge constantly required them to stretch beyond their existing level of ability, and in so doing to extend and develop these abilities. Their first steps were as novices and as they progressed through this learning process, they gradually emerged out of this state and towards a greater level of expertise and competence. Ann's story demonstrates this dynamic well. Ann always wanted to be in a position of leadership, taking on decision making, responsibility, and authority, but naturally she entered into her job with the law firm without the actual skills and experience required to immediately fulfill this career goal. She therefore started with the firm in a "supportive and subordinate" role. In this role she was allowed to learn, observe and contribute to the litigations without having any "real authority" or "full responsibility." From this point she continually expanded her foundation of skills and knowledge by taking on progressively greater responsibilities and challenges according to her "sense of readiness," steadily progressing towards a more powerful, central, and influential role in her organization. She first moved from her background role to assume responsibility for relatively small and insignificant litigations with a little bit of support from her superiors. Gradually Ann took on greater responsibilities with an increasing degree of independence until eventually she assumed autonomous responsibility for large, complex, high-profile, and significant litigations. When Diana began at the volunteer management agency it was a great challenge for her to adjust to the basic responsibilities of managing a group of volunteers and administering a project. As she became more comfortable with these responsibilities and could perform her duties successfully, she was given more challenging responsibilities by her superiors and in turn had to adjust to these. This process of taking on 3 "continuous stream of 131 new challenges" continued until eventually at the end of her story, Diana was given the very central and significant responsibility of being the acting director of the volunteer management department. It was this process of being "continually challenged" by increasingly difficult and complex activities that prepared her to be able to handle this role. Increasing Diversification. The challenges the women faced in their workplace did not simply escalate along the same vein but also progressed with increasing diversity. This dynamic broadened the women's base of experience and allowed them to explore and develop their competencies at different things. When Lisa began her work at the accounting and management consulting firm, for example, she was responsible for only research-oriented activities. As she advanced in the organization, however, these responsibilities expanded to include people-management^  business development, and budgeting to name only a few of her position's initial requirements As the women took on new activities and became comfortable with a broader range of responsibilities they were also able to become more specialized and preferential about the activities which they particularly valued, and so often this ongoing diversification of ability and responsibility continued within a more specific area of developing expertise As Lisa explored and gained experience with the many tasks associated with building up a department, she began to feel with increasing conviction that marketing was a crucial aspect of her job and she became increasingly focused on developing this perspective. In her first few years at the law firm, Lynne was responsible for a very general practice and experimented with a variety of legal activities. Eventually she happened upon solicitor's work, realized that this was an activity which "really suited her," and increasingly made this type of work her focus. This development of an area of expertise or focus as a result of diversification was an experience common to several of the women. Regulation of Progress. For some of the women this process of participating in a series of increasingly challenging actions and broadening responsibility was well-regulated, gradual, and guided while for others it was sporadic and unsupervised. Diana and Ann, for example, were given a great deal of mentorship and support as they progressed to newtasks 132 and activities. Their organizations can be credited with continually providing them with new responsibilities and challenges that were appropriately suited to their developing abilities. As Ann says, the progression of responsibilities assigned to her were generally well "attuned to her sense of readiness and need." Their organizations also provided these women with the resources they needed to successfully execute assigned tasks and assume assigned responsibilities. When Ann went to litigation with her first case, her training had already provided her with the solid analytical background and legal skills she would need, but since she had little experience in litigation and it was still new and intimidating, the supervising partner accompanied her to the meetings to provide her with some necessary back-up. As Diana struggled to "adjust and meet all the responsibilities of her new position" her supervisor was there to give her "incredible support and feedback" and to help her review her "strengths and weaknesses and challenges." While Diana and Ann also of course relied on their own initiative to take advantage of the support and guidance available to them and also to occasionally seek out new responsibilities, the other women had to rely even more heavily on their own initiative to motivate their progress because their organizations did much less to actively guide them and develop their potentials. For example, although Kathryn had the same abilities and potential as the men at her level, her abilities were not acknowledged and cultivated in the same way as were theirs. She had to take it upon herself and rely on her own initiative to seek the "challenge and intellectual stimulation" that she needed to ready herself for other opportunities and have her "potential for advancement recognized." When progression in this series of escalating actions was less guided by the organization, the women's experience was sometimes characterized by great leaps in responsibility and challenge. Lynne, for example, went for years doing the same type of work and feeling very restricted in her role as a subordinate at the law firm until her desire to make changes catapulted her suddenly into a position as the firm's manager. While the progression of responsibilities was likely a much more pleasant and thorough learning experience for the women whose advancement was supported and guided, the women who progressed without 133 such supports also made significant progress along the dynamic of escalating action, due primarily to their own motivation and initiative. The Presence of Adversity. The dynamic of increasingly difficult ahd diverse tasks and activities was further characterized by the women's efforts to overcome additional obstacles, both internal and external, that threatened to hinder their progress. External barriers took many forms and for the women in this study they included a lack of resources; discriminatory or restricting attitudes of others; and negligence of the women's abilities and potential, to name only a few. When Lynne, for example, was looking for an articling position she struggled with discriminatory attitudes in the firms she visited, encountering people who were unable to recognize her abilities and potential because she was female. When Lisa was striving to build up the business of her department in the accounting firm, she was frustrated by the absence of adequate support in her work environment. She had no one to share her focus and concerns or to give her some much desired feedback. In terms of internal barriers, these stories demonstrate that the women may experience inner discomfort for many reasons when they are presented with new tasks and activities The most common obstacle in these stories, however, was fear and lack of confidence, particularly when the challenges seemed beyond the woman's present level of ability or outside her range of previously proven skills. Ann realized quite early on that fear was simply part of this process of testing new waters and trying new things. She tried to overcome her fear by accepting and understanding its role in the process of rising to new challenges. Lynne also, over the course of her story, comes to cope with tasks that "scare her and that she hates to do" by putting them "into perspective." She realizes that "as unpleasant" as she might find them, these tasks "haven't killed her yet" and that she feels "better for having tried " Overall, it was common for the women to have to overcome some sort of adversity, either internal or external in origin, in order to successfully face and work through each new challenge. They had to work through these barriers or find a way around them, developing the ability to cope with the fear as an internal resource. This enabled the 134 women to continue growing, developing, and gaining the necessary capacities to handle the responsibilities of leadership. A Process of Personal Growth - The Development of Confidence and Competence This process of taking on increasingly difficult arid diverse tasks and actions essentially involves a process of vigorous personal change and development for all the women involved. As they engage in this dynamic the women essentially change themselves, and the result of this process is the development of both competence and confidence. The basic sense of this dynamic of escalating action is that it prepares the women for ever higher challenges. As they conquer each new set of tasks or responsibilities they develop greater internal and external resources, confidence and competence respectively, and these help them cope with ever greater actions in their futures. Competence. As the women accommodate each new challenge in this escalating series of action they are called upon to utilize, practice, and therefore develop hew skills and new knowledge. Essentially, they engage in a process of vigorous personal development as they extend the range of their competencies and become increasingly prepared for higher challenges by virtue of possessing greater skills, knowledge, and abilities. In Lynne's case, for example, although having her own law firm was not her initial goal, the various skills she learned over her years as she took on new challenges prepared her for this end. She first took on challenges and developed skills that were associated with actually practicing law, then she took over the management of the old firm without the full responsibility of ownership and gained some practical knowledge and experience in running a law firm. Having mastered these tasks and developed these sets of skills Lynne was then competent to carry through with her plan of setting up her own firm. The expansion of competencyinvolves learning and gaining comfort with both the technical skills of one's profession as well as the softer skills associated with working with people. Diana, for example, learned time management skills and experienced a growth of 135 "efficiency" as she became more skilled at managing projects. However, her greatest struggles involved her adjustment to possessing authority and having responsibility over the performance of others She never became "fond of handling conflict," but she eventually became skilled at "finding that fine line between being a good listener, being perceptive, and providing people with opportunities, while also looking out for the interests of the organization." Her people-management skills and her ability to exercise authority were put to the test when she assumed the position of acting director^  and it was these 'soft skills' which pulled her through many of the challenges of this position. Lisa also described the difficulties she had at first in terms of "handling people problems" in addition to learning how to successfully generate business. It took time and practice for her to determine "how strongly she should wield her authority" and find a comfortable balance between "the business side of matters" and "the emotional side." It is the combination of these two areas of developed ability - people skills as well as technical skills - that provide the women with the comfort and competency they need not only to do their jobs, but to also assume positions as leaders. Confidence. A natural outgrowth of this increase in competence is a corresponding growth in confidence, or a feeling of certainty, appreciation of, and reliance on one's own abilities Self-confident people feel that they know what they are doing and that they are doing it well, and these qualities are necessary if one is to lead other people or start new work ventures. The development of external competence and internal confidence are intimately linked in the women's stories. As they tested and developed their abilities and potential they usually developed at the same time a greater awareness and appreciation of their strengths, and this gave them faith in their ability to succeed at their goals and handle further challenges. At the beginnings of their stories the women tended to experience self-doubt and lack confidence in their abilities/Diana, for example, wondered in the first few months of her job if she "was really the best person for the job" and worried that she had "bitten off more than she could chew." Several of the women believed in their capabilities and potential but this belief was as yet untested and unconfirmed by their experiences. As they worked through new 136 challenges and stretched beyond their existing level of ability, and particularly as they pressed through the discomfort and fear that were usually associated with new situations* they experienced a surge of self-esteem and confidence as they expanded their range of proven potentials. Ann is very articulate about the link between fear and challenge, and self-esteem and confidence,^  in this process of self-growth. Ann realized early on that the leaders and visionaries she most admired saw fear as "a motivator" and a "natural phenomenon that they experienced but would not let themselves pull back from." She points out that when she "put herself on the line," "faced up to her fears," and "worked through" new challenges successfully, she felt like she had experienced a personal "victory." Ann reflected that the people who get "stuck attending to their needs of comfort and fear and control," thereby stymieing the process of ever escalating actions, risk the erosion of their "self-esteem" and "inner confidence" in exchange for a fragile sense of security. Kathryn also recognized the link between challenge and self-esteem or self-confidence. When she began to be "unchallenged and bored" in her job, she began to feel "like she was stagnating." This sense of stagnation resulted in a loss in "self-esteem" and a lack of confidence about "what her next career step would be." In order to halt this downward spiral Kathryn made the decision to go back to school to pursue a graduate degree and find new challenges to stimulate her, thereby developing both the confidence and competence she needed to be keep moving forward and pursuing her goals. Kathryn and Ann both demonstrate the importance of, as Ann says, keeping oneself "moving" and "stretching boundaries" and "taking chances," despite the many pressures to "stop the movement" of this dynamic, in order to continue developing a genuine sense of confidence Confidence was essential to these women because it contributed to their sense of agency, gave them the comfort of knowing that they could fulfill the requirements of their jobs, and eventually gave them courage and faith in their capacity to control their destinies and create new realities. 137 The Outcome of Action - The Impact of Success. Survival and Failure In addition to her participation in this dynamic of continually escalating actions, a woman's sense of competence and confidence may be further enhanced by the outcome of the challenge or set of challenges she has undertaken. Confidence and competence cannot be developed in isolation but rather as an active process emerging out of a woman's interaction with her environment. As a woman assumes new challenges and acts upon her environment she will inevitably meet with varying degrees of success. Whether she succeeds, fails, or merely survives a particular challenge, the outcome of her actions provides her with concrete and sometimes pivotal feedback regarding her capabilities, her areas of strength, and sometimes those areas where she needs to improve. In this way, the outcome of action plays an important role in furthering a woman's progress along the continuum of developing confidence and competence and prepares her for ever greater challenges Success Experiences. In part, the experience of simply attempting a challenging task or situation may quite legitimately be considered a success experience since from this action a woman achieves the satisfaction of knowing that she is doing her best, and the comfort of knowing that she cannot be reproached by others or by herself for giving in to her fears or hesitations. Her sense of confidence and self-esteem may be further enhanced, however, by the successful outcome of the challenge or challenges she has assumed. Ann, for instance, undertook the challenge of trying to "exist as a woman" in the "very male organizational culture" of the corporate law firm. It was a struggle at first and Ann often felt she "forging new territory" as she strove to be true to herself and retain who she was, but eventually her non-aggressive and solution-oriented style began meeting with some very "productive" results. As a result of her success with this approach Ann felt empowered arid increasingly confident in her ability to create and define "her own reality." A woman's confidence in her abilities may also be enhanced by the impact of successful experiences that accumulate over time. Lisa, for example, mentions that her comfort in her "role as a manager" was fostered by the development of a proven "track record" of successful business decisions that built up over her 138 years in business. This track record enhanced her credibility with others and also allowed her to feel "much more confident in her ability to make the right decisions." When a woman successfully completes a task or rises successfully to a series of challenges she proves her ability both to herself and to her work world, and this gives her a greater sense of comfort and confidence as she functions in her job, commands authority, and considers future challenges. Survival Experiences. Sometimes merely surviving a particularly difficult or overwhelming experience is enough to cause an important shift in a woman's sense of self-confidence and give impetus to her developing competency. Several of the women in this study state that their emergence from particularly challenging circumstances gave them a profound and valuable awareness of their own resilience. This knowledge gave them strength and took some of the fear out of future challenges, because they could be confident that they had the ability at least to survive future adverse circumstances, if not to succeed in them. For Kathryn, the awareness of her ability to survive was like a "revelation" that came to her after several scary, difficult, and exciting years of running her own small business. It was profoundly satisfying to her to discover that she was capable of "surviving completely on her own ih a very competitive market," and it "gave her a certain level of self-confidence that she hadn't had before." Diana came to a new appreciation of her own strength after she emerged from a series of challenges which at times she thought would overwhelm her. Her new job had represented a huge lifestyle change for her and it had required her to assume responsibilities, such as public speaking, that had often made her feel "sick to her stomach." At the same time as she was taking on these new challenges her family had undergone some major difficulties, and needed her support as never before, and she herself had been involved in an accident and had endured subsequent health problems. At the end of this difficult time however, Diana : concluded that these challenging experiences had actually "strengthened her." Often during these years she had sometimes Wondered "am I going to survive this?," but now she had proved to, herself that "yes, she could get through these things," and that in the future she could now rely on that "sense of herself as a survivor." 139 Failure. In addition to success and survival, it must not be forgotten that mistakes or 'failures' also have their place in the development of competence and confidence. The women in this study often used their failures and mistakes as vehicles for insight and improvement. As a result of this self-reflexiveness, their difficulties often played a part in fostering, rather than hindering, their progress along this dynamic of ever escalating action In Lisa's first year as a manager, for example, she mentions making mistakes like "hiring too many people too fast" which "wrecked havoc with her budgets." While errors such as these may have undermined her confidence for a time, Lisa eventually saw them as part of her learning experience and credits them for contributing to the development of her "judgment when it came to making business decisions." Sometimes the women turned their 'weaknesses' into strengths by their readiness to acknowledge them and explore methods of improving upon their skills. When Lynne began trying to run the old law firm, for example, she readily admitted that "there were a great many gaps in her knowledge." Instead of concealing these vulnerabilities however, she openly exposed them to other professionals and colleagues. She invited their commentary, so that she might be able to run the firm more effectively Lynne's behavior gave her the confidence of knowing that, unlike her superiors who had hindered the improvement of the firm by the "arrogance" of their "ignorance," she was doing everything in her power to address her areas of ignorance and mitigate their effect. The key for several of these women in terms of not allowing their difficulties to hinder their progress along the continuum of developing confidence and competence was to keep these difficulties in perspective. Diana, for example, coped with the difficulties Of taking on new challenges by reminding herself that when she took on a new role or responsibility "she could not expect herself to be perfect immediately." She realized that the process of learning doesn't happen overnight. She was entitled to give herself "time to adjust" and in the meantime it was not fair to "expect miracles of herself "The women kept themselves moving along the continuum of escalating action by recognizing that mistakes are a natural and very useful part of the learning process. For these 140 women, striving to overcome these 'failures' or difficulties was an integral part of their progress and facilitated the development of their confidence and competence. The Relative Nature of Success and Failure. It soon becomes obvious that success and failure are relative rather than absolute concepts. Each may lead to a positive or to a negative outcome depending on how the woman acts upon the information she receives about her endeavors. What may initially appear to be a negative outcome may be transformed into success depending on what she does with that information, and the reverse can also be true. It may be said that the true nature of a success or failure is best observed by the action which follows it. Much depends therefore on the way the woman assimilates or incorporates information she receives concerning her efforts because this determines her approach to future endeavors. Ann for example, grappled with this paradox after she received her partnership status and attained a high level of comfort and confidence in the corporate law firm. This stage certainly represented the successful accomplishment of major career goals for Ann, but at the same time there was something very seductive about this success which could have resulted in a negative outcome for her It meant that she had reached a position in her firm, continuing in which "could have been very comfortable" for her, but at the same time the focus of the work "clashed with her values" and left her feeling basically unsatisfied. It was extremely "enticing" for her to stay where she was but she also knew that giving in to this pull would have required her to compromise core personal values and beliefs. It was a "huge personal challenge" for Ann to let go of all that she had attained, but in deciding to leave and follow her instincts and beliefs Ann realized an even greater level of personal success* she achieved an authentic and profound sense of confidence, and she avoided the sense of personal failure that would have resulted from compromising her beliefs and her sense of self. It is also possible to transform what may originally be perceived as a failure into a personal success. Lynne, for example, was "deeply disappointed" when her efforts to win the approval of her superiors failed, even after she had transformed the firm into a more profitable and professional business. One option for Lynne at this point would have been to accept this 14.1 lack of recognition as an accurate reflection of her abilities and value, to silence her ideas and beliefs, and to give herself over to their way of running the firm. Such an outcome likely would have obliterated her sense of confidence in herself and rendered her reluctant, at the very least, to take on future challenges. Instead however, Lynne turned this apparent failure around. She assimilated her superiors' reluctance to give her any approval as their problem, not hers, and decided to put her faith in her abilities and instincts by making an attempt to "go out on her own" and start a new firm. It felt like "a huge risk" but by choosing to "be true to herself and "give it a shot," Lynne, like Ann, pushed herself along the dynamic of ever more challenging action and contributed to the development of her sense of confidence and self worth. In general the women of this study aptly demonstrated a capacity to manage the outcome of their efforts in such a way as to further their progress along the dynamic of developing confidence and competence. This is a personal struggle as well as a professional one, and a woman's ability to cope agentically with both the successful and unsuccessful outcomes of her endeavors has implications for her personal sense of worth as well as for the progression of her career. Environmental Facilitators of the Dynamic - Validation Certain external factors in the women's wOrk environments facilitated their progress along the dynamic of escalating action and the continuum of developing confidence and competence. In particular, a system of evaluation or promotion helped the women know when their performance had met the expectations of their position, gave them recognition for doing so, and allowed them to appreciate their growth and accomplishments. Access to constructive . feedback was immensely helpful in allowing the women to monitor their growth and come to a full appreciation of their strengths. Finally, a supportive work environment facilitated the women's developing confidence by giving them access to skills or competencies that they lacked, or by giving them the understanding and emotional support they needed to pursue their goals; These key facilitators all tend to represent some form of validation - of the 142 women, their abilities, and their progress. Some of the Women in this study had easy access to these key facilitating factors, while others had to struggle and look to alternative sources of validation. Access to a System of Evaluation. The stories of these women demonstrate that the development of a woman's competence and confidence is facilitated by a system of evaluation which lets her know whether her performance is meeting the expectations of her position. As Diana mentions, it is "freeing" to be able to know that one is doing good work. By meeting the expectations and performance standards of her professional community and achieving recognition for her work, a woman is freed from self-doubt and gains the confidence of knowing that she has successfully mastered her responsibilities. Ann, for example, had the good fortune to work in a setting which had an established "system of progression" and people who were available to help her progress along this path. As a result, she had the satisfaction of knowing where she stood in relation to the firm's expectations of her performance, because her progress was represented and validated by "increasing levels of responsibility," "titles" and "promotions." Diana was also presented with expectations and a system of evaluation with regard to her performance. While this meant that Diana sometimes experienced nervousness about her ability to meet those expectations and some frustration with herself when she was did not, it also enabled her to experience the satisfaction of knowing that her performance had met with her superiors' approval. At the end of her first year, for example, her superiors increased her responsibilities. This provided her with the clear and validating message that she had "lived up to their expectations" and such recognition had a "big impact in terms of increasing Diana's feelings of confidence and comfort with the work she was doing." In contrast, the absence of a system of evaluation undermines the development of a woman's confidence since, without any recognition or performance standards, it is difficult for a woman to know when she has developed competence, Lynne, for example, was never given any guidance from her employers in the law firm. The absence of benchmarks or even stated 143 expectations regarding her performance meant that Lynne was never able to "gauge her performance and determine whether or not she was doing well." This badly undermined her self-esteem, keeping her in a "state of continual self-doubt" and giving her the sense that she was "lucky to have the job she had." Because she was forced to operate in a vacuum of standards and recognition it was virtually impossible for Lynne to be able to assess accurately or appreciate what she had learned. Lynne's frustration eventually lead her to search outside her work environment for information that would allow her to judge how well she was doing. She was finally able to evaluate her performance after she confided her difficulties to her uncle, who was also a lawyer. This critical action allowed Lynne to realize that, in reality, she had become very competent and skilled at her job It also allowed her finally to begin feeling a sense of accomplishment ahd confidence. Lisa also struggled without an easily accessible system of evaluation and recognition. Because Lisa was doing atypical work and had a very different approach than the other employees in the firm, she did not have access to the "rewards" that were "built into the system" for the other young managers. She coped with this by making partnership her major goal, overlooking the ways in which this goal was ill-suited to her, because she craved some form of "recognition for her accomplishments," and, with the work she was doing, partnership was the "only concrete way for them to reward her." Systems of evaluation and recognition are important facilitators in the development of competence and confidence. They are so important that if they are not immediately accessible to give a woman a sense of her progress in her job, she is likely to continue seeking some type of context to evaluate her performance from alternative sources. Access to Constructive Feedback Systems of evaluation and recognition provide women with some way of knowing how they are doing at their jobs, and therefore are part of the larger issue of constructive feedback. Access to constructive feedback from their superiors or colleagues was immensely helpful to the women in this study in terms of allowing them to develop competence and come to an appreciation of their own strengths. Again, some of the women had immediate access to such a resource while others had to find the validation they 144 needed through more creative means. Diana* for example, had the opportunity to rely throughout much of her work experience on ample constructive feedback and support from her mentor and her colleagues. With her mentor she had regular "one on one" meetings in which they "reviewed her strengths and weaknesses and challenges" which helped her immensely to "gain confidence and insight into her abilities." By contrast, Lynne, who had to assume that she was doing an okay job only because her superiors "hadn't fired her yet," eventually began to look to her clients and other law firms in order to gain a sense that she was doing good work. The stories of these women also demonstrate that sometimes constructive and validating feedback may facilitate a woman's shift from self-doubt to confidence by helping her reframe the personal characteristics that she may have initially perceived as her "weaknesses," as her strengths. Diana, for example, Was always hard on herself for not being a more polished public speaker, but people around her let her know that what she considered discomfort and nervousness actually came across to those watching her as sincerity. She also worried that she was "too sensitive and concerned about others to be a good manager," but in the end people really responded to this humanity in her and she realized that it "enabled her to form strong working relationships with others." Constructive feedback and validation sometime played a vital role in allowing the women to perceive and acknowledge their own strengths. Often the women needed to hear their strengths reflected back to them by others before they could fully appreciate them in themselves. For Lisa, this happened after she left the accounting firm and she sat down with her new partners to assess the personal skills and resources they each had to bring to their new business. The partners all recognized the same skills in Lisa, and it was extremely "exciting" and "rewarding" for her to "finally get such clear and positive feedback " While she had been at the old firm she had never heard anyone say "this is your area of strength;" It had therefore been difficult to "see or fully appreciate these areas of strength in herself." Diana often found, when assuming a new position, that "the skills she possessed were rarely immediately obvious to her" and she "tended to question" her suitability for the job. However, when she voiced her concerns to her 145 mentor and colleagues, they gave her explicit feedback about the skills they believed she brought to the job. This kind of "validation" allowed Diana to "appreciate her own unique skill set" and "freed her to have more confidence in her ability to go ahead with the job." Sometimes feedback from others facilitated the development of a woman's confidence and her progress along the dynamic of escalating challenge by prompting her to make an internal commitment or inner decision to recognize her strengths and put her faith in her capabilities. Kathryn, for example, saw the advertisement for a new job in her corporation that was perfect for her in every respect but one. At first she didn't hold out much hope of getting the position because she lacked a father central qualification, but she "rationalized that the interview process would be good for her to go through." However, when she confided her plans to her friend, the friend made a pivotal remark to her which turned Kathryn's mindset "upside down." "Kathryn,'' she said, "you've got the job. The job is yours if you want it. Now all you have to do is start getting ready for it." "She's right," Kathryn thought, "I've got the job. But I don't know when I'm going to start so I'd better get busy and start preparing." Prompted by her friend's remark and her own recognition of the truth in this insight, Kathryn stopped focusing on her weakness arid started putting her faith in her many strengths. She read stacks of books, talked to every specialist in the city, and by the time of her interview she had become the expert they were looking for and she was awarded the job. Access to a Supportive Work Environment. Confidence and an increased sense of competence is also fostered by the existence of a congruent and supportive work environment. Such an environment may foster a woman's confidence by giving her access to skills and abilities she does not possess personally. Lisa, for example, did not feel comfortable working independently after breaking off from the big accounting firm because she did not feel that she had all the skills she would need to run a business completely on her own. However, by remaining with her partners in Toronto, she felt that she had "access to all the expertise she needed" so made the decision to set up a new corporation in cooperation with these individuals. Emotional support may also provide a woman with the confidence that comes 146 from knowing that she does not always have to cope and deal with problems on her own. Lisa mentions that, in addition to providing her with a greater skill base, the working relationship with her new partners gives her a "certain level of relaxation and confidence" because she knows that their "support is there when she needs it." Kathryn too, values the support of her current work situation. Her supervisors are encouraging while also being respectful of her competency, and this has given her the confidence to start making her beliefs and ideas a reality. Competent and Confident Leaders The development of confidence and competence played a crucial role in the process of becoming a leader for the women in this study. This transition, from uncultivated capabilities and self-doubt to fully developed competencies and self-confidence, makes leadership possible. Without a certain level of competence and confidence the women would have lacked the outer capabilities and inner strength to do what they wanted and needed to do. Skills and self-assurance were necessary before the women had the courage to pursue their vision and do so successfully. At the beginning of their stories the women did not possess the personal qualities necessary for them to assume positions of leadership as comfortably and successfully as they did towards the end of their process. The women's participation in the dynamic of ever more challenging actions ensured that they built up these resources over the course of their work experiences, so that when leadership became the next challenge in the series of actions they were ready to take on those new responsibilities When their vision had developed to the extent that they were ready to make it a reality, each of the women had enough skills and expertise as well as enough courage and faith in themselves to be able to take the necessary risks and assume a leadership role. The importance of this development can be observed in each of their stories. Lisa gained experience with the technical skills of building a business as well as the soft skills of managing people, and had eventually built up a track record of successful experiences, before 147 she felt ready to make a break from the big accounting firm and set up her own corporation with new partners Lynne learned the particulars of practicing law, gained experience with the skills associated with running a law firm, and struggled to feel confident that she was performing these tasks with a degree of success before she felt comfortable doing her job and was able to assume the risk of starting up her own firm. Ann took on gradually more complex tasks and assumed increasingly greater responsibility in the corporate law firm, building her self-esteem and confidence as she worked through the fear associated with these challenges, until she "arrived" at a new level of "comfort and confidence in her abilities" and felt herself participating as an "equal" and a "member of influence" in her work environment This confidence eventually gave her the strength to look outside the comfort zone of her workplace to seek a more complete fulfillment of her career goals and vision of leadership. Kathryn also built upon her skills over the years, continually seeking out new challenges and opportunities for growth, until she felt ready to take possession of her abilities and assume a position of leadership that allowed her to implement all she had learned Lastly, Diana relied on the support of her mentor and her colleagues as she adjusted to the responsibility of managing others and the particulars of her profession until, overtime and with experience, she outgrew her need for that reinforcement. As she "gained more comfort and confidence with her skills and her abilities" she became satisfied that she was up to new challenges and she eventually assumed the leadership of her department for a term with relative ease and comfort. The development of confidence and competence are intimately intertwined, but both are necessary components of a woman's development as a leader. Only once a woman has some confidence in her ability to survive and succeed and is in possession of the skills and competencies necessary to do so, does she possess the internal and external resources to be able to comfortably pursue her vision. By engaging in this process of vigorous personal development the women in this study prepared themselves, sometimes consciously and often unconsciously, for the many challenges and responsibilities of leadership. 148 Thematic Movement #3 Evolution of a Leadership Style and Philosophy For the women in this study, the process of becoming a leader is characterized by the evolution of a leadership philosophy and the development of a management style. At the beginning of their careers, the women in this study brought to their work experiences a variety of dispositions and implicit notions about how people should lead, As they interacted with their work environments, watching others in leadership positions and assuming some aspects of leadership themselves, their values and their beliefs about 'how things should be done' were clarified and further elaborated. By the end of their stories the women hold very articulate and committed ideas about how people, including themselves, work best (leadership philosophy) and how a leader should function and relate to people at all levels within an organization (leadership style). The development of a personal philosophy of leadership is critical to a woman's process of becoming a leader herself because a woman's leadership paradigm gives her a clearly defined framework of belief from which to function when she assumes a leadership role. Her style of leading proceeds from this philosophy, defining how she will fill her role and determining the manner in which she will go about pursuing her goals. While the women in this study interpret their experiences from a Variety of angles and therefore emphasize different things in their resulting philosophies of leadership, they each eventually develop a personally congruent understanding of leadership which they can live with comfortably and try to emulate. What emerges out of their stories are some common themes regarding the manner in which the style and philosophy of leadership develop. The Dialectical Development of Leadership Style The: evolution of a leadership style and philosophy is primarily a dialectical process emerging out of the interaction between a woman and her work experience. It finds focus around the heed to create and maintain a sense of appropriate balance among the increasing 149 and various responsibilities that accumulate along the path of leadership development, and is marked by the fact that it is driven and measured by actual concrete experiences. Throughout their development the women must resolve the issues involved with such experiences, and, regardless of their initial disposition towards leadership, they are required by these subsequent dilemmas in their work lives to elucidate, develop, and further refine their implicit notions and beliefs The women begin at an intuitive level, without fully developed or tested ideas about the workplace and authority. As they interact with their work environment, watching others lead and taking on some leadership responsibilities themselves, they more consciously determine the nature of the environment in which they feel most comfortable and in which they believe people work best. In assuming responsibility for others and learning to handle . their authority the women seek to comfortably balance the needs of individuals with the needs of their organizations As their responsibilities grow, they elucidate the boundaries and limits of those responsibilities and finally learn to make space for their own needs and personal priorities. In doing this the women further commit and align themselves with what they think is right, and so these issues become instrumental in elaborating the women's leadership philosophy and in helping them to define their style. Beginning: Intuition and Reflection Initial Dispositions towards Leadership; The women in this study begin their stories with a wide variety of dispositions towards leadership. There were also differences in terms of how developed their beliefs and ideas were about the concept. Some had already begun to develop a philosophy about leadership by the beginning of their stories, whereas others didn't begin to elucidate their beliefs until prompted by later experiences. It is obvious, for example, that Ann began her story with a very positive orientation towards leadership. Ann states that "in the back of her mind" she always "wanted to be in a position of leadership" and "it seemed natural to her to want to take on decision making, responsibilities, and authority." Although Ann may not yet have known exactly how she might behave as a leader, she embarked on this 150 journey with the idea that a position of leadership would be well suited to her personality and abilities and would thus feel congruent and satisfying. Kathryn also developed a positive orientation to leadership early on after she was promoted to a supervisory position in one of her first jobs. She had always hoped to reach a "fairly high level of career success" but until this experience had always envisioned herself in "solitary and independent professions." Although she "hadn't aspired" to the supervisory position "in any way," she found she was "really enjoying it" and "began to think about management responsibilities as being an important part of her future career." Although Lisa "never set out to be a competitive manager" she also regularly seemed to "find herself moving into decision making positions." Lisa did not seem to have an intrinsic interest in the experience of leading itself but she was drawn to these positions out of her desire for "the power to make things happen." She appreciated the level of control and power inherent to management positions because it was instrumental in allowing her to achieve her goals. Diana also found herself assuming management responsibilities in her career without having "really pursued" them, but she was more ambivalent about assuming authority. She had wanted more "challenges" to "push and make her grow," but at first found it "strange" and sometimes "uncomfortable" to be in charge of other people. Lynne too seemed to begin her story without any particular interest in leadership. Her goal was to "be able to work in an environment where she would not be held back by others," to "be responsible for her own Work," and to "be around other people who shared her efficiency and enthusiasm," but it wasn't until later that her ideas about 'how things should be done' began to develop. These were the initial dispositions towards leadership that would form the starting points for the women along their individual paths towards the development of a personally congruent leadership style. Intuitive Reaction and Projection. Typically, the first impetus the women received prompting them to begin pondering the ramifications of the style, or manner in which leadership is carried out, came from their work environments* and at a time when they did not yet have any leadership responsibilities themselves. Many of the experiences that would later 151 fundamentally influence their own choices and priorities as leaders occurred within the context of being subject to someone else's leadership style. Restricted in terms of their own actions by their initial subordinate positions, and also in terms of their own awareness - their ability to identify the underlying issues involved - the women tend to express these experiences in terms of a perceived incongruity, or a sense of 'something missing' in their work environment. Consequently, the women largely personalized these experiences, understanding them primarily in terms of how they themselves were made to feel, and noting the impact on themselves Of the leadership styles that set the tone of their work environment. Kathryn, for example, found her "hierarchical and authoritarian" work environment, which was "characterized by criticism and a focus on problems" to be very "disempowering." Similarly, Lynne was managed by people whose own needs for control led them to neglect all their other responsibilities as leaders of the firm. As an employee Lynne found this an extremely demoralizing culturein which to work. She realized that the absence of knowledge, guidance, and recognition from her superiors made her feel "very insecure," "isolated," and "frustrated." Being subject to these conditions the women began to respond intuitively, often in a generalized and conceptual way about how things might be improved: Lynne responded to the lack of support and community in her work environment She began to wonder if she and the other employees wouldn't be "happier" and "more productive" if everybody was working together cooperatively - sharing their resources, a common focus, and a mutual respect Kathryn also responded to the negativity of her environment: Prompted by what she felt was missing in the culture of her workplace she developed a belief that an alternative culture characterized by "encouragement and support" and a focus on "empowering and valuing others" would result in people who were "happy as well as productive." Not all the women responded to negative early influences in identifying the potentially significant impact of leadership style. Working in an environment that supported and encouraged her contributions, Diana felt that she benefited enormously from the "incredibly supportive" and "cooperative" environment of her initial workplace. Everybody with whom 152 Diana worked "shared her fociis and her goals" and there was a genuine "climate of openness and honesty." Diana's superiors fostered this environment and the development of the people in it. Diana could rely on them for "reinforcement," "support," and "constructive feedback.^  Diana appreciated these qualities in her work environment and these positive personal experiences influenced her developing ideas about managing others. At the time the women had neither the resources of experience nor the opportunities to implement their ideas about leadership style. However, as they accumulated the resources to name and more fully develop the fundamental principles of their own leadership philosophy, these experiences would resurface as projections towards specific goals for their own emerging leadership styles and priorities. Kathryn's "developing vision of an ideal management style" was influenced by those first impressions that showed her what did not work and stimulated her continued thinking on more functional alternatives. Consequently, ideas like "empowerment and team-work and mutual respect" became priorities for her Similarly, Diana was very conscious of appreciating the positive qualities in the people who had led her, and subsequently incorporated many of these characteristics into her own leadership style. Although generalized and without specific application, these initial projections of healthy leadership style and priorities were intuitively developed in response to the environments the women found themselves in, and later, their more substantial philosophies of leadership style would still reflect these initial concerns. Middle: Active Participation in Developing Leadership Style As the women progressed and accumulated increased responsibility and authority, they began to confront the question of defining a personally congruent style of leadership in a more immediate and comprehensive manner. The presence of other leadership styles and their impact on the women's lives remained even as they advanced and began to take on a degree of leadership responsibility within their workplaces. When Kathryn's boss promoted her, then apologized to her new staff for "forcing them to report to a woman," Kathryn had to step into a position of leadership while simultaneously dealing With the impact of her boss's manner of 153 announcing her promotion. She coped by recognizing that"the discomfort her boss and the others experienced due to her gender was their problem, not hers." This realization helped her to "let them deal with those issues on their own" and helped her to see that her responsibility was simply to "get on with her job." Dealing with such examples of other people's leadership style continued to provide the women with opportunities for reflection upon the nature of effective leadership, but now also began to provide a means of measure and evaluative comparison upon which to gauge the relative success of their own leadership initiatives. Active Participation and Experimentation. For many of the women this period was a time of experimentation and testing of the ideas and principles developed in contemplation of others' ways of leading, as for the first time they were given authority and responsibility over the performance of others. For example, each of the women began to actively explore her instincts and developing ideas around questions like how to reconcile the efficient with the humane and how to handle her authority as she assumed increasingly greater responsibilities in her workplace. Most of the women expressed an initial inclination towards relationships and a concern for the needs of people, but as they began to take on leadership roles the possession of responsibility required them to also integrate a concern for the priorities of the business into the execution of their duties When Lisa, for example, first went from "having someone else review her work to being responsible for the work of others," she had difficulty "determining how strongly she should wield her authority." Her initial tendency was to be "soft" on people "when their work was suffering," because she often knew the "difficulties people were having in their personal lives." However, as a manager she had to "differentiate the business side of matters from the emotional side," so she searched for a happy medium between being a "push-over and being an autocrat." Over time and with experience she found a balance that felt comfortable to her, and as she found this balance her "authority began to fee} more natural and her comfort at handling people grew." Kathryn first found herself having to integrate a greater focus on business matters when she began her own small business. She found that her "relationships" and the "people-part" of managing "came easily to her," but once she was the 154 head of her own business "she also had to make an effort to balance this focus with a consideration for the bottom-line.11 As their responsibilities grew and they moved from a purely contemplative relationship with the role of leadership towards a state of active engagement with the specific tasks and dilemmas of leadership responsibility, the women made conscious efforts to put into practice some of the ideas and initiatives they had begun to foster. Self-reflection and analysis of the results of these experiments would provide them each with further opportunity to focus and define a person Learning from Results and Defining a Personal Style. As they learned from their growing experience dealing with the responsibilities of leadership the women began to recognize and foster areas of specific strength and ability, and the results of their efforts began to provide them with a comfortable basis upon which to build their own leadership personae and style. Lynne, for example, found herself very easily establishing strong, supportive connections with the staff who helped her do her job, and later found that she also met with consistent success in establishing good relationships with clients. Diana, also, found herself to be quite adept at establishing good working relationships and strong teamwork amongst the volunteers she managed. For some of the women this strength at establishing and building upon a basis of good relationships would become characteristic of their emerging leadership styles. The women also began to understand the limits of their control, and to undertake important self-defining steps in establishing a personally relevant definition of their relationship to leadership. Even as Lynne built upon her successes in dealing effectively and positively with her staff and clients, she continued to struggle for years to bring positive changes to the old law firm, hoping that these improvements would "benefit the whole firm" and elicit some recognition from her superiors for her efforts. Finally she recognized that "she was bashing her head against a brick wall," and that the "vote of approval she had worked harder and harder for over the years was never coming," and also that "its absence had more to do with them and their problems than it did with her and her performance." This critical 155 awareness allowed Lynne to stop focusing all her energies on something that she could not control and accept that "it wasn't her responsibility" to create change for the principals of the firm if they chose to be so resolutely unwilling to participate and cooperate with her efforts; This important clarification of understanding freed her to leave the organization and start up her own firm, thus shifting her energy to a more productive focus. It allowed her to let go of things she could not control and look more intently at the areas where she could act upon her ideas and initiatives with more success. Recognizing the limitations o f their control allowed the women in this study to let go of a focus on pleasing others and re-focus on their personal initiatives and beliefs regarding the requirements of their work situations, thus clarifying their responsibilities and more clearly establishing their position within a leadership role. For each of the women in this study initial explorations of the actual tasks and fociis involved with a leadership role provided some revealing insights regarding their own strengths and priorities as a leader. As they continued to reflect upon the nature of leadership in its manifestations around them, and began to integrate those reflections with their formative experiences as leaders themselves, the women were able to begin establishing a comfortable sense of balance among the issues that tested their leadership abilities, including the nature of the working relationships that they established with the people around them and the reconciliation of the needs of those people with the objectives of their organizations. They were also required to find a sense of balance around the limits Of their control as leaders. As they later established themselves more fully in their roles as leaders these issues would form the basis of their emerging personal styles. End: Monitoring a Changing Sense of Balance As they progressed in their careers and accumulated increasing levels of responsibility the women were faced with a series of concrete experiences that required them to elucidate and define their feelings and beliefs around the topic of leadership. Beginning in subordinate and dependent roles they first encountered leadership as they were subjected to it. Their 156 reflections and assessments of the personal impact of those leadership styles during this time would later influence their own initial explorations in a leadership capacity. As they tested and explored those instincts and ideas the women continued to resolve and understand their own relationship to the role of'leader'. Out of this dialectical process of encountered dilemmas and personally developed solutions the women built, and are still in an ongoing process of refining* their own congruent leadership styles. For all of the women the delineation of a comfortable and congruent style becomes a question of finding balance among the following issues that they hold as priorities for effective leadership. Managing Well-being of People vs. Organizational Objectives. Although all the women maintained a strong sense of the importance of relationships and a concern for the needs of people, several of them also recognized that when they didn't assert their authority and maintain a balance between the priorities of people and the priorities of business, they compromised their credibility as leaders As a leader there was a necessity to be able sometimes to make difficult decisions and set standards. Lisa, for example, tended to give people "an extra chance, and then an extra chance again" during her first experiences as a manager, but eventually she recognized that "a limit existed and that her staff lost respect for her if she was overly lenient." When Lynne was trying to figure out what she should do about her problems with V., she sensed that the other staff were "looking to her to handle the situation," wondering if she "was going to let herself be bullied" into trying to satisfy V.'s individual requests or if she would make a decision to protect the greater well-being of their organization. By the end of their stories the women were able to integrate their concerns for the well-being of people with their responsibilities towards ensuring the well-being of the organization in a way that felt personally comfortable for them As the head of her own firm, Lynne continues to "recognize and deeply appreciate" her staff, while also checking up on things "to ensure that they are being done properly." Her staff is actually appreciative of this because it "sets a standard for them and also gives them a level of comfort in knowing that Lynne is aware of what is going on." Diana discovered and became better at walking "that fine 157 line between being a good listener, being perceptive, and providing people with opportunities, while also looking out for theinterests of the organization." By the time she set up her own department, Kathryn also had honed her skills at negotiating the "sensitive balancing act" of leadership. She "strives to develop her teammates and encourage their participation as much as she possibly can," while at the same time monitoring their performance and providing "enough supervision to ensure that their clients are receiving the standard of service they can expect and are entitled to." Ann's situation is interesting because the responsibilities of her job required her to focus primarily on achieving the objectives of the organization. However, by the end of her story, Ann recognizes that she was uncomfortable with the "money before people" reality of her work. It "clashed with her values" and she craved more of a balance between "business" and "humanity." Although Ann had not yet had an opportunity to fully explore and implement this balance it became part of her personal vision of leadership: She is now seeking an opportunity to implement her beliefs and hopes to be able to balance her influence with "responsibility," "sensitivity," and "accountability" towards the world as well. This ability to find a balance between human interests and organizational interests was an important priority for each of the women, and, in choosing to make it a characteristic concern in their approaches to leadership they reinforced for themselves a sense of the value and appropriateness of their personal leadership styles. Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries as a Leader. Several of the women had to come to terms with a tendency as leaders to "take on" other people's issues and assume a personal responsibility for putting related problems to right. This put them under a great deal of pressure since the actual resolution of these issues may often have had very little to do with them and were outside their control. A lack of clarity on these boundaries also created confusion for them in terms of what course of action they should have taken. Diana, for example, describes herself as the type of person who was initially inclined to "do everything she could" for other people, particularly when she cared about them. This created a dilemma for her when she assumed her position managing volunteers because, out of a genuine 158 sensitivity to the personal problems of others, "she had some trouble knowing what to do" when people were "not doing their job." With time and experience Diana eventually came to the critical realization that "there were limits where the responsibilities of her job ended and the responsibilities of the other person's began." This crucial awareness helped her to resolve her dilemma and clarified for her the duties of her position. Once she had clarified her responsibilities to herself she was able to clarify them to the volunteers, letting them know that "this is your job I will do everything I can to make this job more desirable for you, but at the end of the day perhaps this is not the right job for you and you are going to have to make that decision." Lynne also had to sort out the question of limits when V s depression and lack of people skills began to wreak havoc with the working atmosphere at Lynne's new law firm. Eventually, after having exhausted all other attempts at a solution, Lynne recognized that "she could not possibly fix V.'s basic unhappiness" and that "it had never been her responsibility to try." This realization helped her when she came to the irrevocable conclusion that she had to let V go, and it helped her to carry out this responsibility. The recognition of boundaries became a necessary principle in guiding the women's interactions with her superiors and colleagues as well as with her subordinates, in order for her to be able to maintain a sense of her own role and duties as the person in the position of leadership responsibility. Maintaining a clear sense of the limits of their duties allows the women to focus on performing the tasks most critical to the endeavors of their organizations, while keeping enough perspective to properly address the multitude of concerns, both personal and business related, that become associated with the work. Maintaining Self-Care. As an extension to the conscious delineation of the limits of their control and responsibilities, the women in this study also came to recognize the importance and responsibility of incorporating space for their own needs and well-being into their style of leadership. As the women advanced through their professions they were forced to consider at what personal cost they were willing to pursue success and they defined for themselves a balance of priorities with which they could live. In this way the women ensured 159 that their leadership vision balanced their concern for others and for their organizations with a healthy concern and respect for themselves, their needs, and their personal priorities. The beginnings of the women's stories are characterized by a great deal of striving and each of them made personal sacrifices in the pursuit of their goals, often forgoing their own needs in favor of the needs of others or the needs of the organization. Kathryn, for example, worked six days a week in order to "prove her value to those around her" and "outshine other workers." She stayed "late every night and on the weekends" in order to "keep up with the demands" of her superiors and colleagues. Lisa too, dealt with incredible "time commitments" as she worked towards her goal of being made a partner, working close to 4,000 hours a year while she was managing. Even Diana centered her whple life around her work for the first few years of her new career, and made "a lot of sacrifices" in terms of her lifestyle because working for the organization was "so all consuming." However, as time passed the women were prompted by their experiences to evaluate the effects of these sacrifices and consider whether this was a balance with which they were comfortable. Kathryn found her frenetic work activity "exhausting "She also found that devoting all her energies towards satisfying the needs of other people, often "at the expense of her own needs and goals," had a "negative impact on her self-esteem." Lisa reached a turning point after she became a partner and her time commitments continued to mount. She realized that she was "way over stressed and had too much on her plate." She "had watched many people at her level have mental break-downs" and decided she simply had "do things differently." Kathryn, also, has "stopped putting others before herself and has "started taking care of herself and integrating more balance into her lifestyle." In her new job she "structures her work week balancing what she knows is best for her with what she knows is needed by the organization," making time to "exercise and relax:" Having a balanced life is also a priority for Ann. She is currently trying to "figure out how to merge her career goals and successes with a balance in her personal life generally," even if this means "redefining her goals and her concept of success." As Ann so succinctly puts it, power may come at a very personal price for women. To avoid this, women 160 must consciously ascertain where they, as people, fit in their vision of leadership and their definition of success Leadership has no single solution, and although each woman's individual solutions to these issues may be different from the others', these topics highlight some commonalties in their content. Consequent to this, although all the women already have a well-developed understanding and level of comfort with their leadership roles and personal styles, their priorities and methods of behavior are by no means at a static end point on the path of development. They continue to personalize their experiences and experiment in order to find other suitable means of maintaining the sensitive balance of concerns they have identified as some of the priorities of leadership, and this is probably the most fundamental commonality amongst the leadership styles of these women. 161 Thematic Movement #4 The Development of Vision For most of the women in this study the development pf vision represented a central element in the process of becoming a leader. The term "vision" is essentially a metaphoric way of describing an individual's idea of what her work should look like or what her organization should be and do The development of vision in these stories was characterized by the shift from tacit beliefs and unclear impressions regarding work and one's work environment to an articulated and projected vision of what one's organizations and work life could and should be. The individual cases in this study suggest that there is one definite pattern and possibly a secondary pattern for developing vision. The women each began their journeys in a similar state, with loosely defined career goals and generalized ambitions. Through their work experiences however, Lisa, Ann, Lynne, and Kathryn identified areas where they perceived an incongruence between their existing reality and their sense of future possibility By addressing this incongruence they hoped to have an impact in their work world and make a positive contribution to their fields. As they set about implementing their initial ideas of change, they gradually honed their vision of what their organizations should be and do until finally they had the tools and the courage to make this vision a reality. Three of these women were able to implement their vision within their original professions; one ventured even further outside, but each of them had to take risks and forge new paths to create their envisioned realities. For these four women, vision emerged out of unique and personal perceptions and was therefore unlikely to be perceived or implemented in quite the same way by anybody else. As a result, these women were challenged and compelled by their vision to act, and they eventually felt called upon to lead. Diana is atypical and represents potentially another pattern for the development of vision - one that is based on identifying with the vision of the established work environment rather than on differentiation. For the first four women, vision emerged out of a perceived incongruence between the way they observed things being done and the way they 162 felt things could or should be done in their professions. Diana, to date, has seen very little throughout her very positive work experience which she wanted to change or do differently. Rather, she approved of and identified with the vision already guiding her organization. As a result, Diana is perfectly and amply capable of assuming a leadership position by the end of her story, as is evidenced by her term as acting director of her department, but she doesn't at this point in time feel driven to "assume this type of job permanently." Diana is participating in a vision which she shares with other people in her work environment and has therefore not been required to assume the same level of responsibility for realizing this vision as the other women in the study. It may also be hypothesized, of course, that Diana is earlier in the process of developing vision than the other women. In any case, she is in a different place in terms of leadership by the end of her story and her difference from the other women provides intriguing illumination on the process of developing vision. The development of vision is essential to the process of becoming a leader because vision imbues the act of leading with a purpose. Personal vision is best conceptualized not as an end result, but rather it is a guiding light that gives direction and motivation to a woman's experience of leadership (Carr-Ruffinp, 1993). Establishing Direction and Commitment Generalized Motivation and Lack of Direction. All the women began their stories with a certain amount of motivation and ambition but with little specific idea of what exactly they wanted to do in their working lives. The paths o f their careers frequently took twists and turns before the women became committed to a particular career field and began to develop a vision of what they could do in this field. Lynne's frustrating experience working for the government gave her the motivation to seek the challenge and fulfillment of a "professional type of career," but at first she had no idea which field would be best suited to her. Ann's ambition was always to be "in a position of leadership," but she too started her working life "somewhat Off course" in the too-narrow field of computer science. Kathryn had always hoped to "reach a fairly high level of career success" but halfway through her bachelor's degree she decided to 163 "take time off' to "figure things out" since she still didn't know "what she wanted to be" It was with these generalized motivations and ambitions that the women approached their working lives. Making an Initial Commitment. The women dealt with their career indecision by consciously or unconsciously gravitating towards and taking a chance on a career field which they perceived as possessing the maximum potential for realizing their ambitions or goals. Diana took a "leap of faith" and left nursing for volunteer management in the hopes that volunteer management as a career would open more doors for her. Ann went back to school to complete a law degree in the hopes that the field of business law would "expand her options" and "provide her with more opportunities." Lynne went to law school because her father had always admired the profession and to her it seemed "interesting enough" to be worth "a try." Experimentation and Sharpening Focus. Despite making an initial investment in a particular career field, several of the women reserved judgment on the suitability of their field for them personally until gradually, through accumulated experiences and sometimes through a trial and error type of experimentation with activities, they began to sharpen their focus and crystallize a direction for their career energies. Lynne is a good example of this development. She continued to feel very "non-committal" all the way through law school and beyond. In her articling year and the two years that followed she "experimented with a variety of legal responsibilities" but felt "lost" and "disappointed" when after this time she "still hadn'tfound work that she could be passionate about" Finally she happened to try solicitor's work, and to her surprise and delight found it an agreeable and highly suitable activity for her. The work tapped into her skills, andfelt "challenging," "productive," and "meaningful." Diana also struggled to answer the question of whether she and the field of volunteer management were really a "good fit" for each other and she sincerely doubted whether she was "cut out for this work" for quite a while. Over time her success experiences confirmed for her that "yes, she 164 could do this," that she did have valuable skills to contribute to the job, and that this profession "was actually a very good fit for her." A Basic Levelof Cornrnitment and Purpose. The discovery of a suitable activity or field allowed the women to develop a certain level of commitment and a sense of purpose around the work that they were doing, and this was an early and necessary step in the development of vision. Without a focus to engage their interest and passion, there would have been nothing to stimulate the women's thinking on what they might personally contribute to their fields, and no reason for them to begin developing a vision of excellence for the arena of their interest. initiation of Vision Vision Through Differentiation - Identification of a Problem or Incongruence. Carr-Ruffino, in her book "The Promotable Woman" (1993), suggests that everyone can and usually does possess a vision but that this vision will likely remain at the subconscious level as long an individual feels pessimistic about having any personal influence or remains dependent on external authorities. In the present study, it was often when the women perceived a problem which they thought they might be able to address, or when they perceived some type of incongruence between the reality of their work and their intuitive sense of how it could bs, that they began to extend and elaborate the kernel of their vision. For Ann, Kathryn, Lynne, and Lisa, the identification of a problem or an incongruence introduced the possibility of a personal niche to which they might make improvements and original contributions. It helped them to feel they had the potential for positive influence and tuned them into their internal voices (their internal 'authority') regarding how they might wish to have that impact. For these four women, the identification of an incongruence between the reality of their work and their intuitive sense of how it could be, focused their energy towards specific issues and formed the springboard of their developing vision. As they began to generate possible solutions to these problems and started to dwell upon alternative ways of doing things, they began to 165 differentiate their personal vision of how things should be done from the existing reality of their work environments. For the four women whose experience conformed to this pattern, the development of their personal vision was initiated in the following ways: For Lisa this phenomenon, the identification of a 'problem', occurred rather early in her story and prompted her to switch gears quite suddenly. It occurred when she observed the company's financial statements for the first time. She was "intrigued" when she realized that the company wasn't doing as well as she thought and it was "clear to her that there were things they could do differently." She decided that she personally "wanted to have that impact," so armed with a "vested interest" and a "new sense of purpose" she set new goals and began to work towards making this happen. The identification of this "problem" prompted Lisa to become invested and engaged in the process of creating and implementing her own personal ideas of change Lynne's early vision began to emerge more gradually, beginning with a strong intuitive sense that 'all was not functioning in her law firm like it should be ' She learned the problems of this system from the inside out. She personally paid the consequences of being an employee in such system long before she had the resources to objectively name the cause of her difficulties. Eventually, outside feedback confirmed Lynne's initial suspicions that the firm was being managed very poorly, without any attention to basic professionalism and no understanding of "a law firm as a business." She knew, through personal experience, what distress and difficulties this could cause for those involved in such a firm and she began to consider what was required to "address the problems she could see needed to be taken care of." Kathryn also began to develop her vision out of observing a given style of management. The departments she had been working with weren't being managed very well, and eventually she came to "see clearly where the dysfunction lay and what she could do to manage things more effectively." She increased her work efforts and strove to "prove her 166 value to those around her," and she set her goals on attaining a position that would allow her to make the changes she envisioned Ann's vision began to emerge out of a niche that was more personal in nature, When Ann began working for the corporate law firm, she became aware of a felt incongruence between herself and the heavily male dominated work environment in which she found herself As a woman, she felt herself to be bringing a "different set of values" and "different perspective" into a culture defined by primarily male norms. She was also aware, however, that as a woman entering the male corporate world she was part of a greater movement of social and political change. Ann decided to have an impact and use her influence by "retaining who she was" as she functioned within her environment, balancing "the expectations of the organizational culture with her personal codes of behavior." With this decision she selected her niche and began to elaborate her personal vision of change. Vision Through Identification. It is at this point that the other women and Diana begin to differ because Diana, from the beginning of her involvement.-in the new and non-profit field of volunteer management, experienced very little incongruence between her personal values, beliefs, and convictions and those norms and values espoused by her very non-traditional and forward-thinking profession and work environment. In her work experience to date, she has not come across any problem that was not already being addressed, nor has she identified any niche to which she can uniquely contribute solutions. The development of a vision that is unique and separate from her work place is therefore not evident in her experience, however it would not be accurate to say on this basis that Diana does not possess vision. Diana appears to have participated in the pursuit of a shared vision - a vision that she shares with other members of her work community. From the time she entered into the field of volunteer management Diana found herself respecting and identifying with the objectives and goals of her work place and with the agency's style of management. Diana's vision developed alongside others who shared her interests and priorities. In the absence of an identified 'problem' or niche to which Diana could uniquely contribute, Diana has never yet been called 167 upon to develop a more separate vision for which she alone bears responsibility - she has never had to differentiate her personal vision from the more general vision of her workplace. The development of her vision initiated through her identification with an already existing vision, and she began to work collaboratively with people in her workplace towards mutually shared objectives and collective priorities. Implementing Ideas and Adjusting Vision Vision through Differentiation. Once Kathryn, Ann, Lynne, and Lisa had identified an area within which they wanted to create change, they progressed through an evolving repertoire of positions in relation to the 'problem', gradually refining their initial, unclear sense of what was wrong into a complete and developed vision of how to do things right. This process began as they tried to implement some initial solutions to the perceived problem or as they began to try and realize some aspects of their fledgling vision. Because the women functioned from the context of an early, limited understanding of the problem and often from a position of limited power, their actions at first met sometimes with only moderate effectiveness. However, as the women reflected on their initial attempts at influence, they expanded and deepened their understanding of the implications of the problem, elaborated their vision of an alternative, and developed increasingly effective means of realizing this alternative. Lisa, for example, quickly achieved her goal of becoming a departmental manager, but because of her inexperience she made several "mistakes" in her first year as she set about expanding the business in the way she had planned. As a result of these attempts however, Lisa gained insight into the nature of "making business decisions" and developed a deeper understanding ofthe practicalities of "monitoring her division's growth." Through her subsequent efforts she further identified what worked for her and what didn't, clarifying for herself the things she needed - such as a focus on marketing - to make her vision a reality. In this way, the women clarified their initial intuitions about what was wrong and identified more 168 effective means of addressing the issues, thus elaborating and refining their vision of how to do things right. The development and realization of vision is a cyclical process, in that as the women strove to implement their vision, they went through transitions and stages of personal growth that made their vision increasingly attainable. For example, as the women strove to create change in their environments, they relied on and subsequently developed certain skills. These skills, in turn, made them more effective agents of change. When Lynne suggested a reverse take-over of the law firm, she had no idea whether she was capable of addressing the problems she could see needed to be taken care of but figured that she couldn't do "any more harm than was already being done." In trying to reorganize and run the office she relied first on "common sense as her guiding principle," but she was soon required to master the many tasks associated with running an office in the manner she had envisioned, from accounting and office systems to team building and community networking. These new skills and insights fed into Lynne's developing courage regarding her capabilities of starting up her own firm, and they made her a more effective business owner and manager when she did so: As the women invested more of their time and energy into making their ideas a reality, their commitment to their developing vision continued to grow. They began to see with increasing clarity what was possible as they developed confidence and expanded their skills and competencies. For example, as Ann worked her way up in her field and also gained experience of more altruistic work through her community volunteering, she began to wish that she could combine the positive, productive, and socially responsible focus of her work with the community organization, with the power and effectiveness that characterized her involvement in the fields of business and law. Through the accumulation of work experiences, Ann's vision of how things should be emerged more completely and more clearly, and she simultaneously acquired the skills and built the self-confidence she would need to pursue that vision. 169 At the same as the pieces of vision began to fall into place, however, these women also had to come to terms with the restrictions of their environments in terms of being able to fully realize that vision. Upon receiving a partnership, Ann, for example, realized that even though she had reached a position of having power and influence in the very exciting field of corporate law, she still "did not feel completely satisfied" because the often harsh and money-centered nature of the work "clashed with her values." There was no room for her in this environment to realize her vision of working "cooperatively and productively with someone towards a common goal." She wanted to give more of a voice to the parts of her personality that she expressed through her community involvement, to her "feelings and humanity and creativity," and she began to realize that she "no longer wanted that voice to be limited to her off-time." The basic incongruence between their vision and the nature of their environments meant that these four women eventually began to face the impossibility of fully realizing their vision within the context of their existing workplaces. Vision Through Identification. In some ways, Diana's process does not differ much from the other four women during this stage in their development: Like them, she begins with minor responsibilities in her work setting and gradually gains in experience and expertise. Like them, she becomes more committed and invested in a particular vision as she develops a fuller understanding of that vision and as the nature of her participation becomes more intense. Unlike the other women however, Diana's experience involves an apprenticeship in an already existing organizational vision; Instead of experimenting with and elaborating a different and more personal vision of an alternate way of doing things, her energy was directed towards working alongside others to fulfill the objectives of the agency and her profession. Because her vision and her priorities and the vision of the organization Were essentially one and the same, there were few restrictions in her environment which prevented her from participating in realizing the vision. She was not focusing her energy on changing an existing structure, but rather was happy to explore the vision of the volunteer management agency, and fulfill her responsibilities in terms of furthering its ends. 170 Crystallization of Vision Vision Through Differentiation. A clearly defined vision becomes a force in itself and represents a powerful source of motivation. After a certain point the four women in the study who had developed a unique and personal vision realized that they had taken their vision as far as they could within their existing work environments and this realization brought them to a critical juncture inthe progression of their careers. They were required to make some crucial decisions. They could either leave their current work environments and assume the risk and sometimes fear that came with trusting themselves, with trusting their personal vision, and with forging a new more independent path, or they could live with the frustration and sense of compromise that came with seeing their ideas only partially realized. For each of these women however, their vision had taken on a significance greater than the circumstances of their work and their commitment to this vision wouldn't allow only a partial realization They began to reckon with those aspects of their work experience which represented impediments to their vision and they began to seek out and put in place the supports they needed to pursue their goals. This important transition occurred for each of these women in the following ways: After 2 years of trying to implement her vision, of a professional and properly managed business within the old law firm, Lynne finally had to accept that the attitude of the partners of the law firm would always inhibit her success. She felt she had no choice but to become the leader of her own firm. Going out on her own felt like "a huge risk" but "to be true to herself Lynne knew that she had to "give it a shot." Over the next few months Lynne left behind what she knew she could not change, the partners and their focus in the old law firm, and she arranged a team of trusted support staff to accompany her in her new venture. Eventually she let go of V., her old assistant who out of her own difficulties had begun to undermine the success of Lynne's firm. In doing so Lynne shed the last factor impeding her from freely pursuing her vision. 171 Lisa tried for years to get the kind of support she needed from within the environment of the accounting firm, but eventually had to accept that the partners in the firm did not share her focus and would never really be able to support her in what she wanted to do with her type of business. She yearned to work with people who shared her priorities, her focus* and her methods. When an opportunity for her to leave the firm without all the penalty clauses that usually accompanied leaving a partnership, Lisa "jumped at it." From that day on "she was clear that she wanted to separate" because "she had recognized that she was never going to get what she needed from her current situation and she had decided that it had to change." In order to make this change possible in her mind, Lisa not only left behind her old environment but she put in place the "expertise" and "support" she needed by remaining with the partners from Toronto. In their new corporation, Lisa has both the support and the independence she needs to "determine her company's destiny and the freedom to do so in the way she feels is 'best"".; Once Ann had reached the position of partner in the law firm and recognized that she still did not feel truly personally satisfied by the type of work she was doing, she felt compelled to "make a decision about where she wanted to apply herself to the worid and the ways in which she wanted to have an influence." She accepted that "there were inherent limits in her work environment" and that "these limits would keep her from ever achieving her vision of who she wanted to be and what she wanted to do." Anrt chose to take a leave of absence from her work in order to consider ways that she could bring her beliefs and values and ideas more fully into her reality For Ann it was a "huge personal challenge" to make this decision and essentially let go of all she had attained and she "experienced a huge amount of fear" in taking this risk, but at the same time she also felt a resurgence of vitality and enthusiasm and empowerment that confirmed for her the correctness of her decision. By taking on this challenge she is living out her vision for herself as a leader who "move[s] beyond [her] fear" and "forge[s] outside the system," pursuing her dreams while remaining true to herself and her beliefs. 172 Kathryn also left her existing would better allow her to implement all of her skills and her ideas around leadership. She had gone back to school to get another professional degree to prepare herself in case "any opportunities arose," and when an exciting position setting up a new department in the corporation was advertised, Kathryn was ready for the job. In her new job Kathryn found the support and encouragement she was looking for and this was like "having a massive burden lifted off her." Having "the independence to do things her way was incredibly freeing for her" and it allowed her to "stop focusing on problems and start pursuing her vision." At this point in her career Kathryn began to feel "really comfortable" in her role as a leader, because she had finally developed the "inner conviction" and had "received enough external authority to feel confident about leading in her own way." For these four women, the experience of finally taking a chance on their vision was characterized by feelings of "excitement," "vitality," and "freedom" as well as "fear." By the ends of their stories they are each at different stages in terms of how fully they have yet been able to realize their vision, but for women like Kathryn and Lisa, who have both had a few years to settle in to their new situations, living out their personal visions has given them a greater feeling of "comfort" in their role as leaders. While their old work environments may have brought the women some degree of comfort by virtue of being familiar to them and by virtue of being associated with lesser responsibility, the women secure for themselves the ultimate comfort in their role as leaders by living out their personal vision and creating for themselves a new environment that better suits their deepest values, concerns, and goals. Vision Through Identification By the end of her story, Diana is in a different place in terms of leadership than the other women in the study Instead of feeling driven to actualize a unique and differentiated personal vision, Diana had identified with a vision already being perpetuated and therefore shared with others in a mutual quest to make that shared vision a reality. As a result, Diana did not feel the same weight of individual responsibility to make that vision a reality and was hot called upon to lead in quite the same way as the other four women 173 in the study. As is evidenced by her term as the acting director of her department, Diana was perfectly and amply capable of successfully assuming a leadership position when this was required of her. She enjoyed her experience of leadership and realized that she might like to pursue such a position some day in her future, but by the end-of her story she is not currently motivated by a vision which she is eager to realize on her own. Because she shares her vision with other responsible and like-minded people, Diana can move in and out of positions of responsibility and authority when it is appropriate and necessary for.her. to do so. It may be that Diana's situation will change if she encounters a problem or incongruence through her work experience that she can't resolve with others in her workplace. If this were to occur it could be hypothesized that her story and her experience of leadership might come to resemble something closer to the other four women in the study. Two patterns for developing vision have been evidenced in the stories of the women in this study - one emerges as a woman differentiates herself from the incongruent values; priorities, methods, or objectives of her work environment, and the other emerges when a woman finds the objectives and methods of her work environment harmonious enough to identify with them. It is likely, of course, that there is some middle ground between these two patterns and this also must be kept in mind. None of the women in this study was happy to lead simply for the intrinsic experience of leading. They led because they had a reason to lead and they felt a sense of purpose which motivated and drove them. This purpose and this reason was their comprehensive and crystallized vision of what they and their organizations could and should become. Vision, of course, is not a stagnant entity but continues to evolve just as the women continue to change and grow as they progress through their careers. In recent years, for example, Lisa has rethought the "bigger is better" philosophy that characterized her earlier days of running her business and she is now more motivated by the personal enjoyment and "intrinsic satisfaction" she experiences in doing the work itself/However, as long as a woman's vision continues to 174 emerge from her innermost instincts and beliefs it will inevitably supply her experience of leadership with a sense of passion and purpose. 175 Chapter 10 Discussion Introduction The purpose of this study was to investigate the process of becoming a leader as it was experienced by successful female leaders. A narrative case study approach was used to explore the question of how women negotiate this experience and construct leadership roles which are both personally congruent and satisfying: Five interviews were conducted with women who occupied leadership positions in their organizations and who had reached a stage of relative comfort and stability in those positions. The women were selected from five different career fields. In the interviews the women were asked to talk about their work experiences from the time when they first entered into or began to contemplate entering into a management position to the time when they felt that they had stabilized in such a role: A lifeline was used to facilitate a discussion of their processes and to give context to critical events and experiences. From these interviews five narrative accounts were generated to describe each woman's experience of becoming a leader. Each narrative was told from the perspective of the individual woman and was based as much as possible in her own language and frame of reference. Each account was reviewed and validated by the participant. At this point the details of some of the participants' professions were changed to protect their anonymity. One narrative at this stage was converted into a chronology for the final research product at the request of the participant. The information from this narrative was still incorporated into the analyses. By comparing the five narratives and analyzing their contents it was found that the transition from beginning worker to leader involved four major thematic movements or clear themes of progress for the women in this study. The first development involved a shift from a sense of isolation to a sense of belonging as the women searched for a work environment that meshed congruently with their methods, their values, and their goals. The second thematic 176 movement involved the development of confidence and competence/The women engaged in a dynamic of increasingly challenging activities through their work experiences which moved them from a state of self-doubt and unproved potential to more fully developed competencies and confidence in their abilities to survive and succeed in the world. The third development involved the evolution of a personal leadership philosophy and management style. The women began their work experiences with a variety of implicit notions about leadership. As they observed others lead and assumed leadership positions themselves they elucidated their ideas and committed themselves to their beliefs until they defined for themselves a sensitive and personal balance amongst the concerns they identified as priorities of leadership. The fourth and final thematic movement involved the development of vision. This development was characterized by the shift from tacit beliefs and unclear impressions regarding work and one's work environment, to an articulated, powerful, and projected vision of what one's organization and work life could and should be. The development of vision is a central element in the process of becoming a leader because, in this study, the women's vision is the reason behind their leadership. The presence of a clear and articulated vision imbues the act of leading with passion and purpose. The existence of a supportive work environment, of a measure of confidence and competence, and of a clear and personally congruent leadership style make the enactment of this vision possible. Limitations of the Study There are some limitations inherent to the present study. First, while a sample size of five participants is adequate for generating a model of the process of becoming a leader, it is not adequate for generalizing to the general population. This study therefore does not claim that the pattern identified for these participants will be observed in all women who moveinto positions of organizational leadership. Furthermore, it must be recognized that although efforts were made to select individuals from a heterogeneous range of occupations, all of the women in the study were Caucasian, Western, university educated, and from comfortable 177 socio-economic backgrounds. Caution must therefor be exercised when considering the results of this study in the context of women from other racial or cultural backgrounds. Secondly, there are some limitations inherent in the nature of the data gathered in the present study. Only one method of gathering data was employed (the interview), and the trustworthiness of the data in the form of the narrative accounts was reviewed by only one source (the participant) Since the individual expression of the participants was relied upon both for the construction of the narrative accounts and for their validation; some phenomena may have occurred which were below the level of the women's general awareness. It is also possible that there were some aspects of their experience which the women were not willing to share with the interviewer. It is impossible to know how much this was the case, however as the interviewer I must say that I was personally impressed by the women's willingness to talk openly and candidly about their experiences. As evidenced in comments like the following, the women were insightful about their process: ...I also witness that largely women have consequences to doing these things...that there is compromise involved and power often comes at a very personal price... I hope to find away to have that balance and that is probably what this phase is for me right now Stepping, feeling comfortable with achievement that I'have reached, but knowing I don't want that to be all that my life is about and sitting back and thinking how to merge that with a balanced personal life and a balanced life generally, and honest about their difficulties: And that I think was the biggest problem that I didn't know how well I was doing and they never recognized, they never once said, "you're doing a good job", and I think again that might be female and might be me and my age looking to the male, the boss for validation, but I didn't have any other measures. It is therefore also worth noting the level of insight and self-reflection which these women brought to our discussion of their process was honest and profound. 178 Finally, the study is also limited because it relied mairdy on retrospective accounts of the women's experiences. While the study certainly benefits from the insight, understanding, and context which can be gained only through retrospective reflection, it might also be valuable to investigate the process of becoming a leader by obtaining accounts concurrently. Focusing on a woman's 'in-the-moment' experience may shed light on any aspects of this process which are lost through reflection and hindsight. Implications for Theory The general pattern of development evidenced in the narratives of the five women in this study has theoretical implications for existing theories on women's workplace experience and leadership development! Previous research has addressed aspects of a woman's process of becoming a leader, but has not presented a coherent picture of the process of change associated with this experience. For this reason this discussion will take these research theories as its starting point, comparing them to the narrative accounts and extending them where possible to encompass the additional knowledge implicit in the present study. The Double Bind Hypothesis According to previous research, the great dilemma faced by women as they become leaders is that of the 'double bind'. The theory of the double bind asserts that the concept of traditional leadership and the concept of femininity are antithetical Thus, for a woman to behave as an effective leader she must violate stereotypic gender expectations, while if she behaves in a traditionally feminine manner sheruns therisk of being seen as subordinate and ineffective (Nichols, 1994). This dilemma is thought to complicate women's experience of becoming a leader by requiring them to thread their way through a contradictory set of expectations regarding their roles as women and as workers. For the women in this study, however, the dilemma of the double bind is evident not so much in terms of the expectations others had of them, but rather is manifested in terms of an implicit inclination on the part of the women themselves to handle power and approach their work in a 179 different manner than that which is suggested by a traditional understanding of leadership. Particularly for the women in traditional and male-dominated fields, this sensation of being 'different' and of wanting to do things 'differently' engendered an experience of internal conflict as they attempted to merge the norms of their work community and the expectations of their jobs with their own internal values However, by facing up to this challenge and by grappling with the issues this Conflict presented to them, the women in this study came to recognize, examine, and test their originally implicit values and tendencies against their work experience. This process allowed them to make decisions with an improved awareness about what mattered to them in their work and which values and priorities they wished to maintain. It also gave them the opportunity to round out their repertoire with new skills and leadership styles observed and learned in interaction with their environments. As described in the four thematic movements identified in the analyses, the women in this study found ways to integrate the role of leader with their identities as women in a manner that felt internally congruent, externally effective, and personally comfortable. This study further develops the findings of the double bind research by suggesting that women may successfully resolve this conflict by finally discarding the role of the traditional leader in favor of forging out a new identity that fits more congruently with their personal values and style. It also augments the existing research by outlining a process through which this transition may occur. The following discussion highlights in greater detail some of the issues resolved through this process. Value Hierarchy and Relationship Orientation. The research literature reviewedin relation to the values influencing a woman's vocational experiences suggested that women, in general, are; socialized to bring to the experience of leading an emphasis on the importance of relationships and connection with others. This emphasis suggested the possibility of tension between their affiliative and achievement needs (Washburn, 1993; Eccles, 1987), an aversion to competition and hierarchy (Helgesen, 1990; Washburn, 1993), and a tendency to associate 180 success with a balanced lifestyle (Eccles, 1987; Helgesen, 1990). The results of present study provides support for the notion that women bring an overall orientation towards relationships and a different set of values to the experience of leadership. The value that the participants placed on relationships and the importance they attributed to them figure prominently in their discussions of their work experiences and their adjustments to leadership. Making allowance for a degree of individual variation, the women in this study described and perhaps even perceived their adjustments to leadership very much in relational terms. Ann, for example, understood the process of advancing and working her way up in the corporate law firm to be very much about "relationship building." "Relationship," she says, "has just been huge for me." For the women in this study this focus on relationships was indeed the source of some difficulties, as the literature suggests, but was also the source of many strengths as they adjusted to being leaders. Particularly for the women in male-dominated occupations, this orientation towards relationships engendered a sensation of "difference" and lay behind many of the issues they had to resolve. However, as they worked through these difficulties and learned to merge these tendencies with the requirements of leadership, they came to a fuller and mote profound confidence in the lightness of this orientation and allowed it to become a defining characteristic of their emergent leadership. The research literature suggests that this orientation towards relationships is likely to manifest itself in the experience of confusion and conflict as a woman attempts to integrate her family and career responsibilities and to satisfy both her affiliative and achievement needs (Washburn, 1993; Eccles, 1987). Although the present study did hot specifically focus on the phenomenon of work and family conflict and although only one of the participants had children, there is some evidence to suggest that work and family tension was a salient issue for the women as they became leaders. Most confusion and conflict seemed to be circumvented, however, by the willingness of the women and their families to consider and participate in non-traditional role responsibilities in a way that allowed the women to focus on achieving workplace success. In this way, Lynne's husband became their family's full-time parent while 181 Lynne took on the role of the family breadwinner Lisa's husband had the less demanding job of the two and so he "picked up the slack" at home in order to allow Lisa to spend the time and energy she needed to get ahead in her career. These experiences may provide support for the notion that a willingness to be flexible and discard traditional notions about women's roles towards work and family may be necessary for, or at least facilitative of a woman's experience of becoming comfortable in a position of organizational leadership. On the larger scale, this study does suggest that work was very much about satisfying affiliatiye as well as achievement needs for these women. The women sought and received a great deal of satisfaction from their relationships with others in their workplaces, which supports the assertion that women prefer to integrate, rather than compartmentalize their personal and vocational domains (Eccles, 1987) . Even the metaphors the women used to describe their work environments and their philosophies towards leadership overlap with more afnliative domains. Kathryn is a good example of this in that she sees herself and her staff in her new job functioning "sort of like a family," in which everyone has their role to play. It is this opportunity to interact harmoniously and work alongside her colleagues that makes work fulfilling for her. In her role as leader, she considers it one of her primary responsibilities to help her team-mates grow and further their development! These findings support the assertion that women may bring to the workplace a tendency to integrate their professional and personal domains, and while this may cause them some conflict, a successful integration can be accomplished and may provide meaning and purpose to their experience of leadership. The results of this study present strong support for the assertion that women are likely to include the achievement of a balanced lifestyle in their personal definition of success. Indeed, the search for balance could be considered one of the defining characteristics of the process of becoming a leader for the women in this study. However, the results of the present study also suggest that, although such a balance may have been the participants' goal throughout their experience, the achievement of this goal remained an ideal rather than a reality until the later stages of their stories: All the women in this study sacrificed extensively 182 and lived very work-eentered lives, often for many years, until they reached a certain level of success and credibility. They worked hard not only to fulfill the requirements of their professions, but also to prove themselves and gain the recognition and respect of their work communities. There is evidence to suggest that several of the participants had to work particularly hard to achieve these goals because they were women and were not accorded credibility as automatically or as easily as their male colleagues. However, since they were willing to suppress their personal preferencesin favor of playing 'the game' for a time, they eventually succeeded in achieving a level of success necessary to allow them to create their own work environments and set their own priorities. Once they had achieved this freedom, they returned to the understanding that personal success meant, for them, the achievement of balance. By proving their competence and Worth to themselves as well as to others around them, the women developed a sense of entitlement which allowed them to return to those ideals and begin conducting their work lives with a greater respect for their own needs and priorities. Thus, while this study does provide support for the notion that women are inclined to bring to the experience of leadership an understanding of success that incorporates personal balance, it also suggests that the ability to pursue this goal may have to be earned. Nonetheless, the experience of these Women demonstrates that it is possible for a balanced lifestyle to be successfully integrated into the experience of leading. Finally, the research on female values postulates that an orientation towards relationships may manifest itself in an aversion to hierarchy and competition, both of which thrive on a basis of disconnection and independence and may pose a threat to interconnected relationships. In this study, the pattern observed in relation to this theory is similar to that observed for the theory regarding success and balance. The women in this study most certainly demonstrated, on the whole, a marked aversion to competition and hierarchy and a notable anxiety around conflict. However, the four women in male-dominated occupations also demonstrated a willingness to engage in hierarchical systems characterized by a competitive way of functioning. Furthermore, all the women in the study learned to face up to 183 and handle their fears around conflict, while also striving to bring to their work environments a more cooperative and non-conflict oriented style. They found confronting these issues and participating in such systems to be very uncomfortable at times. However, by the time they were able to define their own work environments they had gained a profound level of confidence from knowing that they had lived, struggled with, and finally conquered this way of functioning. The traditional systems of power in our society have long been defined by these characteristics, and several of the women noted that they gained strength and felt empowered once they understood and figured out how to behave appropriately and work effectively in such environments. "I've lived it. I've participated in it and I have succeeded in it," Ann says, "and that is probably where I feel empowered." Nonetheless, the women's true preference for a cooperative work environment is evidenced in their final work environments and by their consolidated leadership styles. These self-created work environments were characterized by a greater emphasis on cooperation and harmony rather than by conflict and competition. As Lisa says, "You may get in the game, but, it doesn't mean you would necessarily set up the same game." By the time they set up their own game most of the women in this study had seen both sides of the coin and could quite confidently make very informed choices in the creation of their own work cultures and organizational systems. The results of this study therefore provide support for the theory that women bring to the experience of leadership a preference for cooperation over competition and democracy over hierarchy. The women demonstrate that it is possible to successfully integrate a preference for a cooperative and harmonious work place with effective leadership. However, the results of the present study also extend this theory by suggesting that women may gain strength from learning to function with a relative degree of comfort in the milieu of hierarchy, competition and conflict, since this enhances their ability to access those traditional networks of power which they are likely to encounter still in the culture at large. 184 Work Orientation - Ambition and the Issue of Confidence. The literature describing women's orientation towards work and the experience of career suggests that a woman's approach to leadership may be moderated by a hesitancy to engage in hon-traditional career options due to lack of confidence (Eccles, 1987) or a preference for more traditionally female domains (Ireson & Gill, 1988; Washburn, 1993). In some ways the women in this study conformed to these suggestions, but in others their approach could be considered atypical. The results of the study support the assertion that the ease with which a woman's process of becoming a leader will be negotiated depends on the adherence to the traditional model of leadership in a given occupational setting and the extent of gender-role socialization for the individual woman. This study sheds light on this complex interaction. The literature on women's orientation towards work suggests that women are socialized to approach the workforce with a distinctly traditional orientation (Ireson & Gill, 1988). Recent research has found that the career aspirations of young women are still overwhelmingly stereotypically feminine (Washburn, 1993). The research also suggests that those women who do consider occupations outside of the home tend to do so only tentatively (Eccles, 1987). If this is so, then the women in this study must be considered atypical. Uniformly^ they brought to their careers a pronounced motivation, if not ambition, to use their abilities and realize their potentialsin the work-force Some of the women expressed this motivation as a desire to challenge themselves, while others sought the opportunity to have influence and make meaningful contributions. Regardless, their desire for a satisfying career never seemed to be in question. There was a sense of purpose and commitment evident in the way they approached their careers. This sense of purpose became more pronounced as they developed vision, gained confidence and skills, consolidated their personal styles, and secured the support they needed to make their visions reality. This study indicates therefore that the process of becoming a leader may begin with a stance towards work that differs from the orientation with which women are traditionally socialized to approach the experience of career. These women may indeed represent the results of an atypical socialization experience. 185 For the women in this study, their movement into positions of leadership did not come about by chance. They brought it about themselves by acting on their desires to fulfill their abilities and potential, and through their willingness to be challenged in order to learn and grow. The research on female work orientation also indicates that women are inclined to suffer from a lack of confidence with regard to their abilities to succeed at non-traditional tasks such as leadership. Furthermore, they are thought to approach the workplace with a low sense of self-sufficiency and competency (Eccles, 1987). While the women in this study all brought to the workplace a desire to develop their potential, they varied in terms of how much Confidence they had in their abilities to meet the requirements of their workplace and succeed at their careers. Most of the Women in the study described the process of becoming a leader as one which centered around the building up of this confidence, and the struggle to feel secure and competent figured prominently in most of the stories. For some of the participants this process of building up a functional level of confidence was smooth and supported while for others it was a more pronounced battle and a test of their existing level of confidence, depending on the nature of their work environments. A lack of recognition, being taken for granted, the sense of being different and an outsider, and the absence of role models or mentors or support all undermined the women's sense of confidence The women in these less conducive situations experienced a tug-of-war as they struggled to gain a sense of confidence in the face of these factors which functioned to break it down. This study identified two factors which serve to facilitate the development of a woman's confidence in her ability to survive and succeed in the work place. As evidencedin the women's stories, the first of these factors was a willingness to face their fears and challenge themselves by participating in a series of activities escalating in difficulty, diversity, and responsibility. By engaging in this dynamic the women were able to build their self-esteem, prove their abilities to themselves in addition to those around them, and enhance their confidence by enlarging their range of skills and competencies through practice and experience. The second facilitating factor was the availability of support in the form of guidance, encouragement, feedback, and recognition. 186 The critical influence of this factor can be observed in the stories where it was absent, as well as those where it was present. Several of the women exhibited the documented female tendency to credit external factors, such as luck, for their successes (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993), which hindered the development of confidence. Feedback, recognition, and encouragement were often very helpful in allowing the women to credit and appreciate the role of their own skills and abilities in their successes. While both factors helped the women gain confidence, the existence of the latter in addition to the former helped to make this process much smoother and less characterized by struggle, though not necessarily less satisfying in the end result. This study therefore extends the findings of previous theories by suggesting that, regardless of the level of confidence a women has in her abilities as she approaches the work-force, certain factors in her work experience, namely her participation in increasingly challenging activities and the existence of support will allow her to build upon that confidence. It is worth noting, however, that the level of confidence possessed by the women by the end of their stories was enough to free them to take the risks they needed to take and to do their jobs comfortably, but it never bordered on ego. The women never lost their awareness of their weaknesses or their appreciation of areas where they felt they still needed to grow: Because this study did not compare the women to their male colleagues it is difficult to say whether their development was low on the continuum of workplace confidence compared to any other group. The Impact of Discrimination there is a large body of literature which states that sexism is continuing to operate in the workplace, creating difficulties for women in such a way as to complicate their advances into positions of leadership (Haslett, Geis, Carter, 1993), The results of this study provide support for this assertion even though problems related to sexism and discrimination were part of only some of the participants' experiences Diana, for example, experienced an adjustment to leadership responsibilities within a very proactive and female-friendly profession. At the same time the contrast of her story with those of the other 187 four women demonstrates, to varying degrees, the impact of discrimination on the experience of becoming a leader. This study also suggests that, if they can be successfully overcome, the problems a woman struggles with in relation to discrimination can lend a greater sense of purpose and clarity to her vision as a leader. It is also important to note, however, that the women in this study did not feel completely comfortable working and leading until they were functioning in non-discriminatory environments and in work cultures where they felt they belonged It was once they were in such environments that they truly began to thrive. The women in this study who participated in less progressive occupational fields described, between them, several of the most frequently documented manifestations of sexism or discrimination. Lynne is describing the bias against women which is said to operate in gate-keeping positions of organizations (Koziara, Moskow, & Dewey Tanner, 1987), when she talks about her frustration upon realizing that discrimination or gender stereotyping was interfering with her being hired into a law firm: And in trying to find an articling position I was turned down many times and I remember once that it finally dawned on me, and I don't like to dwell on these things, but I realized that it was because I was female, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I couldn't be smarter, I couldn't be better, I couldn't be better looking or more smartly dressed. It was nothing that I could control that was the reason I was not being hired. It was really quite devastating because I didn't like the old excuses or the feminist things or the minority stuff You know, if you study harder, if you do better someone will see that they want someone with, good work habits and the light will come through, and it didn't and it was very difficult to accept that it was something that I could not control:- control being one of my strong points. I couldn't do it. And that was really difficult. Kathryn also described the impact of Haslett, Geis, & Carter's 'perceptual bias' (1993) as she experienced it once she was involved and participating in the work world and was striving to gain in authority and move into a position of leadership. She says, 188 of the important points is that I started out with a pretty healthy sense of self-worth... then you go out there in the world and realize that most people don't loot a woman automatically and think, ah, presidential material, or whatever, or GEO. And so even with a pretty solid grounding you have to struggle through that. This perceptual bias meant that the women had to work even harder to gain credibility as individuals entitled to handle authority and responsibility, because they were not accorded the same degree of credibility as quickly or as easily as their male colleagues. As is suggested by the literature (Haslett, Geis, & Garter, 1993), this perceptual bias results in the misperception and devaluation of the women's work arid their potential. In several of the stories, the very obvious effectiveness of the wOmen as workers and potential leaders was overlooked or undervalued by people who should have supported them and helped them to advance, and this complicated their struggles to break through the glass ceiling into positions of top management. Finally, the results of this study also provide support for the literature which says that women commonly find themselves excluded from the peer relationships and informal networks that constitute the social structure of the corporate environment (Prasso, 1996). The participants who worked their way up in the less-progressive and less female-friendly career fields experienced a sense of exclusion from the male culture of their work environments that ranged from a subtle sense of possessing a different perspective* as in the case of Ann, to more outright experiences of exclusion, such as that which Lisa describes when she talks about finding herself excluded from corporate social activities like the fishing trip. As suggested (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1993), the women's struggle to feel in sync with the values and norms of the culture was made more difficult when there was an absence of role models and mentors to guide their participation in their work world and facilitate their career development. This study extends the findings of previous research by demonstrating a variety of coping choices evident in the women's stories, all of which led to eventually overcoming the barriers of discrimination and the achievement of a successful and satisfying experience of 189 leadership. On the whole it seemed that resistance and authentic action, where and when possible, were the most effective means of breaking down limiting stereotypes and restricting the impact of discrimination. Lisa demonstrated resistance when she put a framed picture of herself with the fish she caught on her credenza to remind her male colleagues to think twice before assuming she had no place in the activities of the corporate 'boys' club'. Lynne demonstrated resistance when she decided that she was no longer going to feel responsible for bringing success into the old law firm, and refbcused her energies towards bringing it into her own. Ann demonstrated such resistance when she decided that she was going to try and act in a manner that felt true to herself instead of conforming to the aggressive and traditionally male norms and values of her workplace. The women's ability to cope with discriminatory instances or systems, however, was in part a function of the nature of their environments and the amount of power they had in them. It was most difficult for them to resist when they were new in those environments and had the least power and self-confidence. They became increasingly effective at resisting discrimination and asserting themselves both as women and leaders as they became more credible and powerful. This development Was sometimes furthered by titles and promotions which represented their increasing status and right to belong in positions of power, and at other times corresponded more strongly to a growing inner strength as they became more internally confident in their right to their own voice, Artn describes this process when she recounts her efforts to resist and to effect change in her very-male work environment. She says; To an extent I was an observer and was in a subordinate role .. by definition you are not in a position of leadership or in a position where you can effect change as much, but the fact that I was a woman in a male environment has in certain instances effected change. In smaller ways, and it has become larger over the you feel , comfortable and confident with your voice... This increase in external and internal power and the corresponding ability to act authentically was freeing and made their workplace experiences more comfortable and enjoyable. Being 190 able to function in one's work environment authentically and with integrity - acting out of one's innermost beliefs and values - is a profoundly empowering experience which, as Ann noted, has implications for effective leadership as well. " I think," she says, "that every time you do things that are true to yourself it is empowering. People sense that kind of power in you and they respond to it." Authentic behavior is at the core of true leadership and tends to evoke an equally authentic response in others. It is also worth noting that it helped the women to have some awareness and ability to understand and name the experience of discrimination. Ignorance in the case of discrimination was not bliss. Lisa, for example, mentions that she attributed "a lot of the difficulties of being a manager to a female/male perspective on things " Ann made a decision to function within the traditionally male environment of her workplace in a way that felt true to herself, retaining her Own codes of behavior and value system, because she felt herself to be part of a "critical mass" of women in the work world and believed that they were at a "precipice of change" regarding their ability to affect the traditional cultures to make more room for afemale approach. At the same time, although the women in this study acknowledge the dynamics of discrimination in their work experience and talk openly about it, they also all mention a reluctance to dwell upon discrimination as a problem. The women in this study are solution-focused, and this is a common denominator in their approach to handling discrimination. They acknowledge it, name it, and make decisions about how to cope with it, but their refusal to let discrimination prevent them from reaching their goals may be at least partially responsible for the successful outcomes of their adjustment to leadership. Hopefully, as the result of the efforts and perseverance of women such as these, the workplace they are creating will be transformed into an environment where other women can experience the empowerment of acting and working authentically without struggle, leaving them energy to be focused towards even more positive goals. 191 Feminine Leadership. Recent literature has begun to embrace the traditionally 'feminine' skills and values women bring to leadership as the components of a new and superior management style (Cammaert, 1994; Helgesen, 1990; Lipman-Blumen, 1992; Rosener, 1990). This study provides support for theories which postulate the existence of a particularly feminine style of leadership which differs from the traditional model. The personal styles and philosophies of leadership exhibited by the women in this study fit very accurately the typical descriptions of'feminine leadership' found in the research literature. Judy Rosener, for example, in "Ways Women Lead" (1990) could be describing Kathryn's approach to leading when she says that these new leaders focus on encouraging participation, sharing power and information, enhancing other people's self-worth, and getting others excited about their work. Ann's desire to be a leader who functions out of a " sensitivity and an accountability towards the world" conforms to Lipman-Blumen's description of a style of leadership which is based in a "recognition of the networks of relationships that bind society in a web of mutual responsibilities," (Lipman-Blumen, 1992, p. 184) While no objective measures were gathered in this study that would allow us to say whether the style of management exhibited by the participants was superior to more traditional styles, the women certainly reach a stage in their process at which they feel comfortable and confident in the effectiveness and the 'lightness' of their approach in their workplaces and for themselves personally. They came to value and take strength from their own approach not only because this approach felt personally comfortable and congruent, but also because their experiences and participation in the work force had reinforced and refined their faith in their instincts. The research literature is divided over whether the identification and endorsement of a particularly feminine style of leadership will have a positive or negative impact on women who are becoming leaders (Nichol, 1994). The results of this study provide support for the argument that any shift in the workplace towards respecting and recognizing these traditionally 'female' qualities and abilities as valued and effective components of leadership would in fact be very helpful to women moving into leadership positions. In this study, the desire to lead in a non-192 traditional way created tension and conflict for the women who were in the more traditional fields, since these fields were less inclined to make room for the more 'feminine' skills and priorities the women brought to their work experience The women in newer and more progressive fields, by contrast, experienced a much smoother adjustment to leadership and did not have to struggle as hard or as long to learn to trust themselves and their instincts. This study also suggests, however, that the manner in which a woman copes and makes use of her work experience, positive or negative, is critical. A greater struggle may result in a profound sense of confidence once their instincts finally prove to be right This research suggests that women may have to go through a process of coming to trust themselves and develop their vision before they are able to find the strong and confident voice of their leadership. Nonetheless, a more widespread appreciation of the qualities women bring to leadership would definitely allow a greater number of women to appreciate and utilize much sOoner the qualities that they possess, and would hopefully result in a larger pool of strong female role models for the female leaders of tomorrow. Conclusion. In conclusion, the results of this study support the findings of research literature which suggest that women managers tend to operate, at least in part, from values, assumptions, and perspectives which reflect their female grounding, but which are not yet widely represented or accepted in organizational life (Marshall, 1993; Asplund, 1988). The results of this study demonstrate that this is likely to present women with a number of issues to resolve, particularly if they find themselves in organizational environments in which a traditional model of leadership is endorsed and perpetuated. However, the results of this study also suggest that this may not necessarily be ah ultimate barrier if the women are able to engage in a process of confronting these issues and filtering through the examples of leadership around them while also coming to know and trust their own tendencies. Becoming a leader can be considered in some ways to be a process of self-discovery. The women in this study developed a congruent and satisfying leadership identity and reached a stage of comfort 193 in their process by exploring and expanding their capabilities, interacting with the world around them and ultimately articulating a model of leadership which suited their needs and dispositions. Motivated by a clear vision of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it, and armed with enough confidence, competence, and support to make their vision a reality, the women in this study are excellent examples of women engaged in a meaningful and satisfying experience of leadership. It is worth noting that the end points of these stories are somewhat artificially imposed and that all of these women still consider themselves to changing and growing. However this may also be an indication of the essence of true leadership - the willingness to participate always in a lifelong process of learning and growth, continually facing new challenges in order to expand conceptions of self and leadership. Implications for Practice The present study has several practical implications. The general pattern of development observed in the process of women becoming leaders can serve as a guide to counsellors, employers, and others who affect and shape the working lives of women and, most importantly, it can serve as a guide to women themselves It facilitates our understanding of how women move into satisfying leadership roles and points the way to specific issues which are important to address if women are to have meaningful careers and congruent and satisfying experiences of leadership This study suggests that a woman's process of becoming a leader can be a journey of self-discovery and self-growth. The findings also demonstrate that it is possible for a woman to successfully integrate the role ofleader with her identity as a woman in a manner that feels internally congruent, externally effective, and personally comfortable. This study supports the practice of affirmative action policies and, indeed, any measures which facilitate the increase of women into positions of organizational leadership and make the workplace a more hospitable and supportive place for women. While the women in this study certainly developed a level of strength and resilience by overcoming barriers 194 related to discrimination, they also demonstrated the greatest satisfaction and comfort with their careers when they had the power and the support to be able to do things in their own ways. Increasing the number of women in positions of organizational leadership is a powerful way of breaking down limiting stereotypes, freeing up the workplace and also expanding our understanding of leadership to make more room for female voices and methods. As Ann says, the existence of a "critical mass" of women in the business world gives individual women the power to resist assimilating completely into male work cultures, and gives them the strength to retain their own values and function in a way that feels true to themselves. A prevalence of female role models and a more widespread appreciation of the qualities women bring to leadership would help a greater number of women feel that the workforce is a place where they can belong and excel. Much can be learned from the coping skills displayed by the women in this study as they worked their way up through their professions and into positions of leadership. Their enthusiastic approach to career, based on their perception of work as an opportunity to exercise their abilities and fulfill their potentials in a satisfying way, could be used as a guide and a model to overcome the ambivalence with which many young women approach career. Vocational counsellors should keep in mind that the idea of work as potentially a profoundly satisfying experience may be a novel and powerful concept for the many young women who still hold a very traditional orientation towards work (Eccles, 1987). Since few women today* in families or as single people, can afford to spend their lives out of the paid workforce, it is of vital importance that we overcome this cultural lag which leaves women ill prepared for their experiences in the workforce and traps them in unsatisfying and low paying jobs. For young women who consider pursuing a career ortly tentatively or out of necessity, the development of a positive orientation towards work may be the first step towards transforming their experiences in the workforce into a satisfying and meaningful part of their lives. The'findings of this study also suggest that women may benefit from learning to view challenge in a positive light and from coming to understand fear as part of the process of self-195 growth and development. Previous research has identified that a lack of confidence and fear of failing tends to plague women as they participate in the workforce and this fear often keeps them from aspiring to positions that require them to move beyond their comfort level (Eccles, 1987; Paludi, Frankell-Hauser, 1986). Counsellors and human resource professionals should bear in mind the truths and insights discovered by the women in this study as they personally struggled with and resolved these issues. The women demonstrated, for example, that confidence and self-esteem can be built. They expanded the sphere of their comfort level by continually moving beyond it - engaging in a process of ever escalating challenge and self-development. Counsellors can help women develop a positive orientation towards challenge by helping them overcome the stigma which our society places on failure and mistakes. Fear of failure is paralyzing and keeps us from trying anything new. However, as Cochran and Laub point out in their book "Becoming an Agent" (1994), in order for there to be the promise of self-fulfillment there also needs to be the danger of self-betrayal for any of the life-defining and self-defining activities of our lives. Women need to be taught that fear and failure are natural and very useful components of the process of self-growth and learning The women in this study demonstrate that failure is not bad in and of itself and in fact is a useful stepping stone, much like success, on the road of career progress and self-development. The findings of this study also suggest that the process of a woman becoming a leader may be facilitated by access to constructive feedback and support. Most people crave support and feedback to let them know how they are performing, to help them identify and work on their areas of weakness, and, most importantly for women, to help them recognize their strengths. Counsellors and human resource professionals can play a role in helping women overcome the internalized perceptual bias which hinders them from perceiving their own strengths and undermines their sense of agency. A sense of agency and a belief in one's strengths and abilities is necessary if one is to comfortably and effectively occupy a position of leadership. This study demonstrated that the ability to perceive their strengths and appreciate their role in the creation of their successes preceded the women's ability to feel comfortable 196 and satisfied in their roles as leaders in their organizations. Counsellors and employers might do well by encouraging women always to trust and explore their instincts, since it is through this process that the women in this study came to develop a vision which motivated their leadership and bettered their work worlds. While the women in this study were often very goal-oriented and brought to their careers a desire to fulfill their potential, their stories also demonstrated that a career path may unwind in a very unpredictable fashion. Many of the women in the study, as they reflected back, marveled at the unexpected twists and turns that their career paths had taken. At the beginning of their stories most of them stated that they would not have been able to predict where they were going to end up. Counsellors and career planners must therefore keep in mind when counselling women about career that, while the ability to set and strive for goals is certainly important, so too is the ability to be flexible and open to experience. It may be helpful for women just entering the workforce to know that they do not have to be able to clearly perceive their final career goal for their career to be a satisfying and successful one. The women in this study maintained a balance between control and flexibility: They possessed an awareness of their overriding career goals and needs, like the desire to "make a meaningful contributions," the desire to "have power and influence," the desire to "work on something I care about with people who share my interest and passion," of the desire to "challenge myself and grow." These goals were large enough however, to flexibly encompass and allow the women to take advantage of whatever opportunities they encountered. In the meantime the women acted upon opportunities which looked interesting and satisfying, but also attended to a gut-level awareness of when the opportunity or activity had outlived its usefulness to them. They then demonstrated courage in taking the risks they needed to take to move on. An ability to recognize opportunities for growth and the possession of enough courage to take necessary risks, are qualities which counsellors and employers should encourage women to develop in their lives in addition to the ability to set and strive for goals. 197 The most powerful potential application of this study is to present these women, the participants, as role models to other women. For women just considering the issues of career and leadership or for those women who have already embarked on their own journeys, the common pattern of development shared by the participants of the study can be a critical source of information, validation, and learning. However, because this pattern is an abstraction of actual experience and lacks some of the color and detail of an individual life story, some readers may wish to turn to the narratives to expand their understanding by witnessing the actual experiences of real women. One immense advantage of the narrative format is that the stories of these women are immediately accessible to anyone choosing to read them. Each individual reader may learn and gather impressions from these women's experiences in their own way. As the researcher, I have been struck by the powerful reactions of other women upon reading the narratives presented in this research. These stories validated their own experiences, raised their level of awareness and gave them the tools to perceive and name the issues with which they struggled. The stories stimulated discussion and the sharing of resources, inspired the readers with possible solutions to problems, and empowered them to appreciate the qualities which they and other women bring to the workplace and to leadership. As women we lack an adequate pool of role models representing us in the work force and acting in positions of leadership. Few of us have the luxury of sitting down and learning from another woman's experience. As a result, we struggle to develop a vision of ourselves striving, overcoming, achieving, and leading. We are told all the time of the difficulties we might face and we worry that we are already victims. The real value of this study lies in its ability to provide other women with accessible role models of real women struggling with real issues, representing between them a wide range of real solutions and coping techniques. It validates our experience and our tacit identification of the issues we must confront, and it outlines a path for reaching our goals. 198 Implications for Research The findings of this study provide fertile ground for speculation and future research. Several common thematic movements characterizing the process of becoming a leader were identified for the womenin this study, and at the same time many individual differences in the women's experiences were also observed Further research could extend the findings of the present study by examining more closely these commonalties and these differences. Firstly, it is critical to explore the degree to which the pattern of development observed in the present study can apply to a larger and more diverse population of women. Although this study sampled women from a range of different occupational fields, the participants were all very well-educated women from homogeneous ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Women from different socio-economic and cultural groups may exhibit a very different pattern of development in becoming leaders, and may highlight different issues and coping choices. A similar study, conducted with women from more diverse backgrounds, would allow us to determine more accurately the extent to which the pattern of development found in this study can be generalized. Secondly, this study alerted us to an obvious contrast between the women who became leaders in the more traditional, male-dominated professions and occupational, environments, and the women who did so in more progressive and female-friendly fields. A comparative study more closely examining the differences arising from these separate circumstances might more fully illuminate the impact of a woman's work environment on her experience in the work-force and her adjustment to leadership. In particular it would be useful to determine whether there is actually a different pattern of experience for women becoming leaders in more progressive fields compared to traditional fields, and it would be of interest to ascertain the way in which this pattern of experience impacts upon a woman's sense of leadership. Thirdly, this study looked only at women who felt that they had successfully resolved the issues presented to them throughout their work experience and had reached a stage of 199 comfort and satisfaction in their roles as leaders. It would broaden our understanding of this process profoundly if further research were to explore the experiences of women who choose not to continue along the career path towards leadership. For the participants' in this study, there were many instances throughout their experiences when their career paths might have veered in another direction either through their choice or through circumstance. Without imposing any value judgments upon either outcome, it is important to examine in greater detail the forces and factors which lie behind a woman's realization of a given career path. This knowledge would be vital to women approaching the workplace by allowing them to make more informed career choices considering their personal tendencies and priorities. It would also allow professionals who affect and shape the working lives of women to better guide them to personally satisfying vocational experiences Fourthly and relatedly, it would be worthwhile to investigate whether the skills and traits developed by these women through their experiences in the workforce and in their adjustment to leadership can be taught to other women. This study suggests that the ability to understand fear and face challenge in order to develop confidence and competence, the ability tp secure a supportive work environment, the articulation of a personally congruent leadership style, and the development of a personal vision all further a woman's process of becoming a leader. It would be useful, therefore, to develop programs based on these findings and study the results to determine whether the insights gained through the present study can be implemented in a practical manner Finally, all the women in the study stated that the end point imposed on the process of becoming a leader felt somewhat arbitrary to them. They stated that while they had definitely reached a stage of comfort and stability in their leadership relative to their past experiences, they also perceived themselves to be on a path of continual growth and change It would be revealing, therefore, to perform a longitudinal study to examine the pattern of growth and change experienced by women such as the participants over an even longer span of their careers. Such information would be useful in extending our relatively limited body of 200 knowledge about the experience of career and leadership at all stages of women's lives, and would have the advantage of presenting this information from the women's perspectives and in their own voices. Summary This study has contributed to an understanding of the process of becoming a leader as experienced by successful female leaders. This is an area of research which has not been fully addressed by previous studies. Previous research has examined the qualities women are commonly socialized to bring to the workplace and leadership, it has documented the issues and problems women commonly encounter in the workforce, and it has studied how women lead in terms of their effectiveness and style Little previous research, however, has focused on how women actually experience the process of adjustment involved in becoming a leader in the workplace. A narrative case study approach was used to gain a rich appreciation of how the process of becoming an organizational leader is negotiated and understood by female leaders. Five women from a hetereogeneous range of occupations were interviewed and acted as co-researchers for this study. These women all stated that they felt they had reached a stage of comfort and stability in their roles as leaders in their organizations. The interviews yielded five rich and detailed narrative accounts describing the women's experiences of becoming leaders from their personal perspectives and in their own language as much as possible. Each account was reviewed and validated by the participants. The details of some of the participants' professions were changed to protect their anonymity. It was decided at this point to present one participant's story in a chronological format to further protect her identity. Sections of her narrative were incorporated in the analyses. A comparison of the five narrative accounts revealed four major.thematic movements common to the experiences of all the women in the process of becoming leaders. The first movement involved the search for a supportive work environment. The second movement 201 encompassed the development of the women's skills and competencies, and the corresponding development of their confidence in their ability to survive and succeed in their work worlds. The third movement involved the articulation and consolidation of a personally congruent philosophy of leadership and management style. The fourth and final movement involved the development of a personal vision, or an articulated, powerful, and projected understanding of what their organizations and work life could and should be. Vision gives purpose and passion to the experience of leading and was the reason why many of these women moved into leadership roles; The development of vision can be seen as the central movement propelling this process, while the achievement of a supportive work environment, the development of a measure of confidence and competence, and the possession of a clear and personally congruent leadership style all combine to make the realization of vision possible. All these movements were facilitated by the women's participation and interaction with their work worlds and by their perseverance and commitment to resolving the issues their experiences presented to them On the whole, the process of becoming a leader is one of profound self-discovery and self-growth; The findings of this study indicate that through these major developments, a woman may come to know, develop, and trust her instincts and her voice around the phenomenon of organizational leadership. 202 References Alimo-Metcalf, B. (1994). Waiting for fish to grow feet: Removing organizational barriers to women's entry into leadership positions In Tanton, M (Ed.), Women in management: A developing perspective. New York: Routledge. Asplund, G. (1988). Women managers: Changing organizational cultures. Great Britain: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Barley, SR. (1989): Careers, identities, and institutions: The legacy of the Chicago School of Sociology In MB. Arthur, D.T. Hall, & B. S. 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(1993) Gender-role development: A pathway to understanding female achievement. In S.D. Crozier, J. Gallivan, & V.M. Lalande (Eds.), Women, girls. & achievement (pp. 144-150). New York: Captus Press. Watson, C. (1988). When a women is the boss. Group & Organization Studies. 13 (2), 163-181. Yukl, G (1989). Managerial leadership: A review of the theory and research. Journal of Management. 15 (2). 251-289. 206 Appendix A General Format for Screening Interview Introduction My name is Suzanne and I'm a masters student in counselling psychology at U.B.C. I'm doing a study to find out what women's experience of becoming a leader is like when they assume a management position in their organization. For the women who participate in this study, this would mean meeting with me two to three times for approximately five hours total. The first meeting would be the longest, since I would like to be able to talk with you and find out what the experience of becoming a leader was like for you. I will need to audio tape our discussions so that I can have an accurate record of our interactions. The second interview is for me to check back with you to make sure that I have understood you correctly and have accurately identified the major themes of this experience for you. A third interview may be requested to check back about any additions or corrections that have been made. The second and third interviews are likely to be much shorter in length than the first. If you are interested in participating, I would like to be able to ask you a few questions if you wouldn't mind Please know, however, that you are under no obligation to answer any questions that you don't want to and that you are free to withdraw from participating at any time. Questions 1. Can you tell me a little bit about your position in your organization, and the duties that go along with your job? How long have you held this position? 2. Can you tell me a little bit about how you feel now in your role as a leader/manager in your organization? (If they feeladjusted, successful, comfortable, then. ) What was it like for you get to the place where you felt comfortable in that role? Did this necessitate any kind of adjustment or transition for you? 208 pg. 2 of 2 I have read the above form concerning the nature of this study, and I would like to volunteer to be a participant. I understand that, as a volunteer, I may withdraw from the study at any time ifi wish to do so. Furthermore* I am aware that the information gathered in this study is confidential and anonymous with respect to my personal identity. I acknowledge receipt of this consent form and agree to participate in the study Participant's Name: ' •' .. . • • • ' • . • ' Participant's Signature: . • ' Witness's Name: ' . . ' • ' ' Witness's Signature: - : "- . . • . " Date: ;. •• , •„ • - . .' . 209 Appendix C General Format for Phenomenological Interview 1 Preamble & Orientation For this study we are interested in talking to women who have assumed management roles in their organizations. As we talked about, this experience of becoming a leader often requires women to go through a period of change, adjustment, or transformation before they feel comfortable in this role It is this experience of change or transformation that is the subject of this study, and I am here today to try and understand what your experience has been like. In the past, a lot of research has been done on the problems and barriers that women often experience in the workforce, but there has been very little done on how women cope and deal with these problems. There has also been lot of research done on the difficulties that women experience when they reach the upper levels of their corporations, but again, very little on how these women resolve or cope with these issues in order to feel comfortable in management roles. By sharing your story of how you have adjusted, you will be providing valuable information and acting as a role model to other women who are considering entering a leadership role in their organization. This information is also very valuable in terms of preparing young women for the workforce, and in developing a deeper and more female-friendly understanding of organizational leadership. 2. Informed Consent Form 3. Lifeline I have provided a lifeline on which we can mark the beginning and end of this story, and we can also include any events or important aspects of this experience that occurred along the way. The beginning of your story might be the time that you first started considering assuming a leadership role in your organization. This may be because you were offered such a position or because you decided that such a position was attractive to you. The end of the story can be this present time or the time when you first began to feel comfortable and stabilized in your leadership role. The purpose of this exercise is to help you start thinking about your experience in this way and to make it easier to tell your story by using the lifeline as a guide. 4. Story I'd like you to tell me your story of becoming a leader, using the lifeline as a guide. You might tell the story as if you were watching the drama of someone else's life, so that the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Please feel free to include events that helped or hindered this process, and fill in as much detail as you need to in order to fully describe your 210 feelings, thoughts, and actions as you moved towards that sense of satisfaction with yourself as a leader. 5. Possible Interview Questions 1 What was happening for you when you first started to think about taking on a managerial role in your organization? What was this time like? 2. What kind of events or experiences occurred for you as you adjusted to this role, starting near the beginning of your lifeline and moving towards the end? What were these like? (active listening to assist the participant in telling her story) Possible probes. In what way did they help or hinder your adjustment? Do you see any experiences as being particularly pivotal? 3. How would you describe your sense of yourself now? Looking back at yourself before this process, what has changed? How do you understand your role as a leader? 4. Based on your experience, do you have any suggestions for other women who may go through the same type of experience? 211 Appendix D Participant Review Letter Dear I hope this letter finds you well. Enclosed is the first stage of my analysis for you to review. As we discussed on the phone in September, I have chosen to do a narrative-based analysis to explore my thesis question of how you and the four other women in this study have experienced the process of becoming a leader. Your individual transformations were all so interesting that I wanted to let them stand on their own before I broke them down and grouped them together into commonalities and themes. The aim of the narrative is to be both an accurate and reasonably complete representation of your experience. I would therefore like to ask you if you could take the time to read through your narrative and make a note of any places where there is a distortion or a neglect of that experience. This is also your chance to edit any identifying information. Please let me know if there is anything that you wish to alter or omit. Also* please feel free to change or invent your own pseudonym if you would like. So as not to take up too much of your time, we can discuss these issues over the phone once you have read through and noted any changes you would like to make. I will try and contact you in the first week of December to confirm that the package has reached you and to set up a time that would be convenient for us to discuss these issues. A descriptive analysis chapter comparing the experiences of all the women in the study will be coming in the future. If you are interested in having a copy of our actual interview I would be happy to include that as well in the next package Once again, I thank you so much for your participation in this study. I look forward to talking with you soon. Sincerely, Suzanne Bradbury 


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