What is the glass cliff?
The glass cliff is a term that refers to the phenomenon in which women face a disadvantage in their careers when they are put in high-risk, high-profile positions. Evidence suggests that these positions are often more precarious and offer less opportunity for success.
The glass cliff has had a significant impact on the careers of women in many industries. Although women are sometimes appointed to these roles as a way to show that the company is committed to diversity, they are more likely to be accused of not getting results fast enough or fail and be blamed for the failure. This can lead to a decrease in opportunities for future advancement.
What can be done to avoid career ruin from the glass cliff?
While there is no one definitive answer to avoiding the glass cliff, there are several things that can be done to increase the chances of success for those appointed to high-risk positions. Organizations should take steps to identify and assess the risk associated with potential appointments, identify and groom diverse candidates for high-profile roles, and create a supportive environment that allows individuals who have fallen off the glass cliff to recover without penalty.
It has also been suggested that organizations should focus on improving the cultural fit of potential managers and leaders, examining the extent to which they can be effective in leading teams. In addition to the specific skills, organizations should assess their people on the basis of emotional intelligence, or how well they can relate to people and motivate them. This is based on the ability to recognize and use emotional information, as well as assess and manage emotions.
Meredith Wood details seven steps women can take avoid falling off the glass cliff.
- Know your numbers and details. Armed with statistics and facts, you will have a competitive advantage. Stay up to date on industry trends and company insights so you know the exact level of risk.
- Include risk in your salary negotiations. Think about the fact that you pay mortgage and car insurance monthly, semimonthly, or annually. And you don’t get the money back if you don’t have an accident. Why? The insurance companies say that you are paying them for assuming the risk that something will happen. Therefore, identify your worth, especially when the risk level is high. Men are about four times more likely than women to ask for a raise. Get compensated well if you are going to take a high-risk position.
- Define success BEFORE you accept the position. Have your performance standards set to decide whether they are reasonable and can be met. Women tend to be more scrutinized. Sometimes the male before you got more leniency than you will get. After all women CEOs are 45% to be fired then male CEOs.
- Use your unique position to your advantage. Women are more likely to prevail over their male counterparts in emotional intelligence categories. Women are more effective than men on problem-solving aptitude and are typically seen as more inspiring. THOSE ARE SECRET WEAPONS – USE THEM.
- This goes without saying: Believe in yourself. Be a DECISIVE DECISION MAKER. Ensure that you are swiftly making decisions with confidence. No overthinking and doubting or second guessing yourself. When you are a decisive executive, leader, or manager you are typically seen as high performing and trustworthy.
- Build your network. Having reliable colleagues in varying departments will provide you more perspective when evaluating a promotion. When possible don’t accept a proposal in a silo.
- Do not be afraid to walk away. WHY? Because when women CEOs are ousted, they may not make it the c-suite of another organization. Despite having a record that has proven worthwhile in her career. In organizations men that make mistakes are judged by their potential to do better. He’s just learning. However, women who make mistakes will be accused of not having been prepared enough in the first place. Vote with your feet and say no!
Final thoughts on the glass cliff phenomenon and how to avoid it.
The glass cliff phenomenon is when women are disproportionately appointed to positions of leadership during times of crisis or risky jobs. Research has shown that these appointments are more likely to lead to failure. Sometimes it’s the lack of support while you are in a position that causes women to fall off the glass cliff. Leadership knew going in, that the role was a difficult one, and the company stepped back and was willing to let the woman swim or sink on her own. Rather than offering support and guidance.
But with these seven steps you are armed to avoid the glass cliff.
Click here to view my Youtube video “How Can Women Avoid Falling off the Glass Cliff.”
Twanna Carter, Ph.D., Career Transition Coach. I help high achieving professional women who are anxious about transitioning into a new career, have absolute confidence and belief in their own abilities, so they can communicate their unique value, honor their true purpose, and boldly pursue their dream career.
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