Breedlove's Briefing: 7 Ways to Avoid Falling Off the Glass Cliff

September 2 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

What Is the Glass Cliff? 7 Ways Female Business Leaders Can Avoid Falling Off.

Who it’s for:

Every woman striving to grow their career.

Why it’s important:

Everyone has likely heard of the proverbial glass ceiling: The barrier that separates the earning potential of men and women. Unfortunately, while enterprising women everywhere seem to be making strides to shatter the glass ceiling, progress has been slower than we would like to acknowledge. That is not to say that gains have not been made. For example, board membership of women in Fortune 500 companies has tripled in the last 20 years from 10% in 1995 to more than 30% in 2017. But female representation in the highest levels of executive life is still woefully inadequate, potentially due to a phenomenon known as the glass cliff.

What best practices can we adopt to play a pivotal role in progress? First, simply understanding the path that leads to the glass cliff is valuable. Then, adopting a few simple steps in how you work, make decisions, and seek career advancement may be a game changer. New data provides a roadmap, and it’s my pleasure to get the word out.

Know What the Glass Cliff Really Is

A term initially put forward by Michelle Ryan and Alexander Haslam, of the University of Exeter, the glass cliff is characterized by a company elevating a female leader as an agent of change when they are facing a difficult transition or challenging period. It is staggering to see how often, in the midst of turmoil, companies look to female leadership.

By inheriting a precarious position, women who are appointed during this time are seen as ineffective when they cannot immediately produce positive results. These women are, most often, subsequently replaced with men, who are looked at as saviors after female leadership was unsuccessful in quickly fixing the issues that they inherited with the leadership position.

Practices for Avoiding the Glass Cliff

So, how to approach the cliff without falling off? It requires understanding that women need to develop a level of empowerment and advocacy that male counterparts do not. Women have enough trouble being taken seriously for simple business tasks like getting business loans and making sure they are getting a fair wage. We have to remain vigilant in the business world and work harder to get a fair share.

Here’s some best practices to make the work a little less difficult:

1. Know Your Numbers. Knowledge is power!

2. Include Risk in Your Negotiations. Know your worth, especially when risk is high. Men are 4 times more likely to ask for a raise than women.

3. Define Success Before You Accept. Women CEOs are 45% more likely to be ousted than male CEOs. Have the board set your performance standards and then decide if they are achievable.

4. Use Your Unique Position to Your Advantage. Women outrank men in 11 out of 12 emotional intelligence categories and are better problem solvers.

5. Believe in Yourself. Make decisions quickly and confidently. Decisiveness makes you 12x more likely to be considered a high-performing executive.

6. Build a Network. Having trusted colleagues in multiple departments will give you more insight.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away. If the risk is too great, say so. Ousted women CEOs don’t usually get picked back up to lead another organization.

Top Take-Away: We now have data informing us of how the glass cliff has been created. This is powerful, because it allows us to effectively build practices for eliminating it. Change won’t happen overnight, but this is smart progress.

Want a Deeper Understanding? These are excellent:

Why Struggling Companies Promote Women: The Glass Cliff, Explained.

How Women End Up on the Glass Cliff

Should Women Be More Worried About the Glass Cliff Than the Glass Ceiling?

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