Going to the beach this holiday weekend? It’s never too late to keep a book in your beach bag.
I have two to recommend, which pair well together. the no club addresses an issue that is derailing so many careers, especially for women, and leading by heart Provides part of the antidote. Here is more information about each:
The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End WorkLinda Babcock and others, by Simon & Schuster, 2022, $27.99 in hardback.
First, a word about the title. This book is intentionally written about women and a very specific problem they face in the workplace – more on that in a minute. My view: I completely agree with the authors about this focus. But as I read this very compelling book, I had to admit that this information also applies to the number of men I mentor in my career practice. I suggest you read the book regardless of your gender if you think the problem affects you.
And that would be the issue? Well, the title gives it away: saying no, especially to tasks that keep you from progressing in the workplace.
One might naturally assume that those tasks are more for women than men, but the authors took the scientific route: they conducted a series of experiments to see who was more often assigned futile tasks, who did it. and who says yes or no to the actions.
All of which confirmed what you probably imagined in the first place: Women are asked — or volunteer — far more than men for tasks that have no purpose or meaning for their careers.
The impact of this dynamic cannot be overstated. Women are not only filling their days with work that doesn’t help them move forward, but by doing so they are left out of projects with more impact. At the same time, her male colleagues are following the reverse path, doing very little in vain, while gaining visibility from projects that are both gratifying and important. Is it any wonder that the gap between salary and promotion persists?
Non-promotional works, or NPTs as the authors call them, cover a wide range of fields, and vary according to one’s level. For example, a mid-career project manager who takes meeting minutes is engaging in an NPT, while an entry-level receptionist who is doing so is demonstrating a skill that can bring about more career-related responsibilities. . With that said, why is the project manager taking those minutes, and why is it more likely that a woman agrees to do so than a man?
Part of the answer is that women are asked just because – largely because they keep saying yes. In writing this book, Babcock and his co-authors devised a plan to help workers see NPT in their own work lives. With this information more clearly identified, the next steps in the process include discretion – which NPTs to keep, and why; and strategy – how and when to close dead-end tasks.
This book has life-changing potential, especially for workers who feel trapped. Instead of going for a different job, it may be worth the effort to fix the job you have and gain life skills in the process.
Leading by heart: five conversations that unlock creativity, purpose and resultsBy John Baird and Edward Sullivan, Harper’s Business, 2022, $29.99 in hardback.
In discussing non-promotional actions, the authors of The No Club provide some of the psychology behind the decisions we all make that can hold us back. In Leading With Heart, Baird and Sullivan lead the conversation, diving into topics like the different types of fears that hold us back, and desires that can inspire or derail us in our career paths together.
The book’s core, “Five Conversations,” refers to the five behaviors the authors have identified as keys to effective leaders. Their premise is that leaders who have mastered (or at least understood) their own fears, for example, can help others move on from their career-interrupting fears.
Even though this section was written for leaders and the examples leaned toward C-suite stories, I found it very consistent with the ideas presented in The No Club. Whether you have authority over the work of others, or only over yourself, seeing things through a leadership lens can be an antidote to volunteering your time for meaningless tasks. And even if you’re not a leader yet, it doesn’t hurt to start practicing the art of thinking like one.
Amy Lindgren is the owner of Career Consulting Firm in St. Paul. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.