Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of women who are worried about their lives, their work, and the current state of insanity in the world. They believe they haven’t done enough. They’re concerned that everything is going backwards.
Me, too. I have the same concerns – except for the last one. I know that the world doesn’t evolve and then devolve into a previous way of doing things. Instead it crumbles a piece at a time and I’m banking on those pieces getting bigger and bigger.
Right now, we’re watching living through the dismantling of a system that’s been in place for over 8,000 years – the rule of the white patriarchy. While it’s not pleasant to experience, a system that rewards only one type of person and marginalizes everyone else has to be overturned. Why? Because a one-sided system benefits no one, not even the people it was created to benefit.
A perfect example.
I had an interesting experience this week. My insatiable appetite for story and new takes on life and work and people have made me an avid reader. To feed that appetite, I read the Harvard Business Review on a regular basis. Its July/August issue features a Spotlight Series highlighting the changing requirements for people who occupy the C-Suite (CEO, COO, CIO – you get the idea).
Get this. Businesses have finally realized that companies do better with executives who have exemplary – wait for it – soft skills.
From the summary of the article: “Landing a job as a CEO today is no longer all about industry expertise and financial savvy. What companies are really seeking are leaders with strong social skills.” Harvard Business Review, The C-Suite Skills that Matter the Most
What? Social skills?
But wait. Aren’t strong social skills the softest of soft skills? Aren’t soft skills, well, soft? Like a woman? Like someone who thinks connections are as (or more) important than mere transactions? Like someone who knows communication is everything?
Businesses, giant businesses, Fortune 50 businesses, now, finally, realize that success is about more than numbers, it’s about developing relationships that allow people access to human information that’s been ignored for centuries – information that makes a business better.
I laughed out loud.
To be honest, I laughed as I read the article. Well … I actually guffawed, then cussed. Here’s the excerpt that made me both laugh and cuss:
For example, what does the term “soft skills” really mean? And to what extent does the need to hire executives with more-expansive skills vary across organizations?
Remarkably, even though almost every aspect of leadership has been scrutinized in recent years, rigorous evidence on these crucial points is scant. Harvard Business Review, The C-Suite Skills that Matter the Most
Did you catch what made me furious? It’s one word – remarkably. In what world are people so ignorant, so blind, that they find it remarkable that no one scrutinizes skills that women are punished for using? Obviously, the patriarchal corporate world and the world of elite white institutions like Harvard.
Who knew? Who could imagine that being good with people is a critical skill for running a successful business?
We knew. We women knew. We people who don’t move through the world in a prescribed manner knew. And now they’ve proved it.
I’m furious that it’s taken so long. That so many women have been marginalized and ridiculed because of their soft approach and their reliance on social skills to access knowledge and solve problems. When, all along, those skills pointed the way to success.
You know all that time women and other marginalized people have spent working harder and being smaller because soft skills don’t matter? That’s over. And no lesser source than the venerable Harvard Business Review has proven it.
Can you feel it?
Can you feel another piece of the patriarchy crumbling at your feet? We will not go backwards. They can’t stop us.