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Leading with Integrity

In most states in the United States, employment is “at will,” meaning that an employee can be fired for any reason, unless the reason is specifically prohibited by law. Sometimes, employees have access to a union, which provides more protection for them, but generally businesses that have reached success and started scaling have hired employees who do not have access to those protections. Much of what a union enforces, though, is simply transparency, and this can often be as much of an advantage to an employer as to an employee. For example, it can seem more efficient to be able to fire someone without jumping through the hoops of clear discipline and setting transparent expectations, and th

Using Transparency to Encourage Growth and Retention

Before you owned your business, did you ever work in a business where it seemed like the rules were written by Lucy in Charlie Brown? Every time you’re just sure you’re going to kick the football out of the park, someone moves it and you fall flat on your behind. That is the challenge of working for a business where transparency is not a priority. Only Lucy feels comfortable and safe. Employees start withdrawing and hesitating to share their creative ideas and opinions. They start playing it safe and only completing the minimum requirements of their jobs. I talked with a manager in a business once, for example, who told me that she had no designated budget for her projects, and so she had no

Conflict Is Optional and Sometimes Useful

Conflict is always optional. And by that I mean that not only is it never necessary to choose conflict, it is also your choice if you do want to choose conflict. Many people unconsciously or consciously enjoy the charge of conflict and find it stimulating. After all, many of us choose to be competitive athletes, politicians, or trial lawyers and actively engage in adversarial disputes. We enjoy the process of conflict. You are not required to resolve conflict, ever. It is always your choice. At its best, perpetual conflict can become the pressure that creates a diamond or the chiseling that makes a smooth stone. A flower has to break open the shell of its seed to grow. There are many positiv

How Asking 'Why?' Completely Changes the Game

The one key, simple step toward resolving a conflict is asking, “why?” I know it sounds too simple to actually be useful, but it works because it is so simple. Asking why helps you stand in the other person’s shoes and truly understand the Thought Models they are having that are motivating their side of the conflict. It only works if you have done your work first to understand and feel comfortable about your own perspective. Ask yourself “why” first, and make sure you like your reason for continuing the conversation. You know you have your work first if you are open and willing to say your opinion, you understand what the best outcome looks like for you, and you are more committed to the bes

Strategies That Get Results

​ If you have worked hard to get to where you are in your career, but you’re worried you’re going to have to give up everything you’ve worked for because of harassment, talk to me. I hope this blog has given you an overview of what is possible in your life and how you can use your experience of harassment as a starting point to become the powerful presence you were meant to be. I want to see you take up space. Take up all the space you’ve been given, and then grow to take up more. I want to see you be the most powerful person, the biggest energy, in every room you enter. When I take my clients through a legal case, I want to know they can get on the stand and command the attention of the ent

Learning to Resolve Conflict for the Best Possible Outcome

Let’s be real, the news has been bleak when it comes to the opportunity for reconciliation and resolution around harassment, discrimination, and abuse. After the 2016 presidential election, many of us took a step back in disbelief, realizing how polarized the United States has become. We’ve seen protesters on the side of white supremacy and protesters on the side of feminism and gun control. Sometimes these protesters are in the same family circles. Throughout the country, people are shouting loudly to have their voices heard in ways that sometimes seem irreconcilable. Many of our workplaces are microcosms of this larger picture, which can create intense and even crisis levels of conflict. I

Your Own Best Advocate... Is You

“So, should I bring a case?” I hear you ask. As with all things in the law, the answer is “It depends.” (Now you know the secret to why people love lawyers so much!) When someone comes to me and asks, “Do I have a case?” my initial thought is that the person has a pretty basic misunderstanding of what it means to use the law. You always have a case. I could sue you for taking breaks while reading this blog. I would lose the lawsuit because it’s not illegal for you to take breaks, but if I wanted to spend the money, I could still file a lawsuit over it. Then, you could sue me for filing a frivolous lawsuit, and we could spend all our days filing paperwork. Yay! If that’s how we want to spend

How to Stop Offensive Behavior

For inclusive leaders in the workplace, shifting power dynamics can be difficult in a different way. Hestia described that when she started managing people she had worked as peers with before, she stopped being invited to lunches with them. At first, she was offended and thought maybe she had done something or that someone was deliberately excluding her. Later, she realized that as the manager, people she used to consider peers now thought of her as the boss. It became her job to reach out to them to maintain relationships. Their perception of her power shifted, even though hers did not. As a leader, helping subordinates empower themselves so that they understand they have not only permissio

Shifting Power Dynamics to Win

Once you have chosen a purpose that is clear in your mind, and you are ready to go for it, no matter what kind of opposition you face, your brain starts to open up to see how even opposition can contribute to your purpose.​ In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin (the chess prodigy on whose life the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher was based) talks about learning how to be a “push hands master.” Push hands is the Tai Chi fighting technique, and it is based on using other people’s weight in order to knock them off balance. Waitzkin talks about learning to stand in a grounded position as though rooted, and he describes that this is the only way to maintain balance and use a competitor’s force ag

Getting to the Root Cause of Conflict: The Power Dynamics Model

In my experience, in order to effectively stop abuse at work, we have to support both the victim and the perpetrator in understanding and appropriately using power dynamics. Most of us spend our days at work feeling like this: Often perpetrators feel this way even more than victims of harassment. Those who feel powerless are much more likely to perpetrate abuse than those who understand the power they have. This is because we justify exaggerated and abusive behavior when we are “defending ourselves.” Research shows that men are more likely to perpetrate harassment if they feel insecure in their jobs, for example. The cliché for this is the “pecking order,” referring to the hierarchy by whic

How Do You Find Your Purpose?

Choosing your own purpose and going for it is the best form of resistance and revolution possible. You taking up space in the world for good and in line with your purpose, in and of itself, is a huge step toward defending your career from harassment and setting an example for other women who want to do the same. When you become small and get out of the way for harassment, you let harassment take up space. When you become big, and you set impossible, outrageous goals for what you want to create, harassment has to get smaller to get out of your way. You can’t talk about purpose without talking about Viktor Frankl, who used his time in the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Dachau, to reach

'The Rock' and Cognitive Bias

Imagine you have a co-worker who keeps stealing your pens. Most of us have had something like that happen – a co-worker who takes the hole punch to her desk every time she needs to use it and doesn’t return it, or one who takes your pen every time she comes by your desk. Most of us would have no problem with asking the pen-stealing co-worker to stop. We would not feel shame in confronting her about it or even in going to her desk and taking the pens back. We mark our pens with tape or tie plastic flowers to them because we expect pen stealing culprits to exist. If an employee came to you as a boss and told you that she wanted you to get the pens back for her, you might think it was a little

The Best Revenge...

Honestly, when I ask my clients what they want out of bringing a claim for sexual harassment, while there are a lot of common responses (“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” “I want my life back,” etc.) one of the most common responses is “I want him to be accountable for what he did” or “I want him to pay.” Judge all you want about the dangers of getting obsessed with revenge, and we all know there are dangers, but it is totally normal to want an entitled jerk who tortured you to pay for what he did. Doing things out of revenge is a bad idea because it gets you taking care of his feelings instead of yours. But, you have to start moving forward from a realistic idea of where you are

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