Forget The Glass Ceiling: Leadership Lessons from the White House to the Board Room

Part of the IYF Guest Bloggers series. Cross-posted from Deborah’s blog.

Betsy Myers has served two Presidents.  As a senior adviser on women’s issues under President Bill Clinton and Chief Operating Officer for President Barack Obama’s campaign, Betsy has experienced leadership at the highest levels. In her latest book, Take The Lead Betsy says that her curiosity has framed her leadership efforts.  Questions such as: Why is it that some people challenge us and motivate us to rise to our best abilities, while others seem to drain our energy and spirit? What is that particular quality people have that causes others around them to fully engage and feel connected?

You can learn more from Betsy Myers by joining me at the Midwest Women’s Invent Your Future conference June 19. Until then, here are 5 leadership lessons from Betsy Myers:

1. The “Science” Of Leadership Is “Feeling.”: Most people don’t think about leadership as a feeling.  According to Myers, a successful leader creates a feeling among employees of being valued, appreciated and included. When people “feel” valued, supported, appreciated, included, and understood, they are inspired to do their best work. The job of any leader is to bring out the productive feelings of their people.

2.  Look Beyond The Board Room, The Battlefield Or The Ballot Box For Your Leadership Opportunity: You do not need to be a battlefield hero, a CEO or a President in a boardroom to have a profound impact on everyone around you. Each of us has opportunities to take the lead every day, says Betsy. Look for your opportunity and seize the moment.

3. “Forget The Glass Ceiling – What About The Sticky Floor That’s Holding Us Down?”. Betsy recommends that we change our view from the glass ceiling to the sticky floor as that  floor may be filled with sticky things that are holding us back. “Without understanding which behaviors are getting in the way of our success, we’ll have trouble figuring out the “pearl we’ll add to the world.”

4. Real Leaders Don’t Act Like They Have All The Answers.  The best leaders begin by asking questions and also admitting that they do not have all of the answers.

5. Diversity Of Perspectives Is The Winning Edge:  The research is in and its compelling: diversity matters not because it is the right thing to do (it is!) but because it also impacts the bottom line in positive ways.  ”In this new century for both the public and private sector, organizations that are not diverse will find themselves lagging behind in both profits and ideas.”

About the author: Deborah Collins Stephens is an expert on the human side of business. A best selling author of five books that have been translated into 8 different languages, with one (Maslow on Management) named among the top ten books of the decade by The Financial Times. Deborah is passionate about helping leader’s build inspired teams.

Known for sharing stories that move the hearts and minds, Deborah helps leaders build cultures that create extraordinary levels of employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Grounded in research and real world experience, she has held senior level positions in both the public and private sectors.

Deborah co-founded The Center For Innovative Leadership, a firm that has worked with many Fortune 100 companies and venture backed early stage firms, for over 20 years. She created one of the first e-learning and web cast programs, Leadership Lessons From The Fastlane in conjunction with She has been a guest lecturer in the Stanford University Entrepreneurial Thought Leader’s Forum, a faculty member in the Stanford Professional and Executive Development Program and a judge in the Stanford Entrepreneurs Business Challenge Competition. She has also lectured at the University of California San Francisco, California State University, and University of California Haas School of Business.

Deborah’s work and commentary has been covered by National Public Radio, ABC News (San Francisco and Chicago affiliates), United Press International, Inc. Magazine, Fortune Magazine, Selling Power Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, Connections Magazine, Gentry Magazine, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Dallas Morning News, Contra Costa Times, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Epoch International Times, CBS Radio Boston and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Her client list includes Medtronic, Merrill Lynch, Kaiser Permanente, Intuit, Hewlett Packard, Accenture, Safelife Biotechnology, Storage Tech, Professional and Business Women’s Conference of California, NAWBO, State of California, National Organization of Women in Business, Commonwealth Clubs of California and Silicon Valley, Denver Women’s Forum, San Mateo County Government, and many others.

Deborah serves on the Advisory Board of Women Impacting Public Policy, and Invent Your Future Inc.

Leave a Reply