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Striking Balance in the Boardroom

Brian Buck
© Scotwork NA

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2019, we’d like nothing more than to claim that we’re doing something special to mark the occasion. Unfortunately, we can’t make that claim. At Scotwork, IWD is like every other day: We’re continuing our ongoing, unrelenting mission to strike a balance in the boardroom. And we’re doing it the way we always have — as a global company working across industries and organizational levels, applying our proven negotiation methods to everyone, regardless of location, occupation . . . or gender.

Allocating 365 days a year to this central mission, our negotiation consultants have become experts in the ways of power balance. With that in mind, we asked some of them — all women from different walks of life — to discuss their proven tips and techniques for tapping into personal power and, better yet, harnessing it to help create workplaces of genuine equality. In other words, #BalanceforBetter.

“Always leverage your power, no matter how much you think you have.”

“At Scotwork, we say that if a person is even talking to you, then you have some power or you wouldn’t be there. The key is being able to understand what is my power and what am I willing to do with it?,” says Jill Campen. “I do executive coaching with women who have recently been promoted to executive status. These are high-potential women. I tell them to have a clear idea of who they are and what they want. Am I creating opportunities for myself or am I taking the easy way out? What am I willing to do? What options do I have? If I have clarity on what I want and what the other side wants, then I can create a balance and we can both get what we want. Clarity creates power, which creates balance, because I’m crystal clear on what is and isn’t acceptable — and I get to make a choice.”

“People create a lot of obstacles. We teach them to get around themselves.”

“Last year, I worked one-on-one with a team of sales reps for a medical technologies company,” says Ananda Laberge. “The organization had never had a five-year deal with their client — mostly three years and under — so they never put that down as an objective. We explored a question: Why not? It always came back the same way: ‘Well, they’ve never done it before.’ We ended up closing a five-year deal, and it came down to the team having the confidence to ask, ‘Under what circumstances would you agree to a longer-term contract?’ Half of the sales reps were men, half of them were women. The women tended to be a little more timid, whereas the men were more eager to try different things. With the women, they were afraid sometimes to use their own voice, but they all had it in them. Getting them to be confident enough to use it created the beginning of so many opportunities.”

 “As women, we have a worry in the back of our minds . . .”

“When we talk about balance in the workplace, there are always teams or individuals that accept more of the workload, whether it’s part of their responsibility or not,” says Julie Shen. “Specifically as women, we might think, I don’t want them to think I’m not a team player or I don’t want to come across as aggressive, so I’ll just do it. Basically, they’re creating an imbalance of power by trying to be good team players. Negotiation is about good communication, which allows you to neutralize the imbalance in a positive way. One team I worked with countered the issue like this: ‘Yes, I’ll take that on . . . if you’ll do this for me.’ The moment people realized that this group was pushing back and asking for something in exchange for doing stuff for them, they got more respect and more work done. They liked their jobs more because they weren’t getting dumped on.”

“A competitive environment doesn’t breed confidence. It breeds aggression.”

“Collaboration is not about one person or another having more power. It’s about all of us saying, ‘Hey, we’re all in this together to achieve one goal — in the boardroom, in the workplace, in the company,’” says Millie Davis. “I’ve found a lot more success when all of the players are collaborating towards one goal versus when everybody has their own personal agenda. Collaborative environments also have an impact outside of the workplace, because if you’re feeling good about the work you do, that bleeds into your home life. Assuming that women are more generally collaborative, we can continue to balance the day-to-day life of the workplace. In fact, if we can begin the collaboration process and bring more people in, maybe that’s our gift to the workplace.”



With those proven tips and techniques in mind, we hope you’re recognizing International Women’s Day 2019 the way we at Scotwork are. Come the next day, rest assured that we’ll be back to providing critical negotiation-skills training, coaching, and consulting, every bit as committed as we were before the weekend began to “bettering the balance, bettering the world,” one boardroom at a time.

If you would like to talk to any of our expert negotiation consultants, give us a call. Talk to one of our experts today. 

Brian Buck
More by Brian Buck:
Me, Me, Me!
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