What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions

An Examination of the Relevancy of Identified Self-Defeating Behaviors of High-Achieving Women in U.S. Corporations in Light of the Current Generation to Determine if These Behaviors Have Evolved or Completely Changed Over Time.

Erving Goffman (1959), in his classic work, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, said, “In our society, the character one performs and one’s self are somewhat equated…” (p. 252) He explained how producing and maintaining selves depends on the stage where we are performing (the situation), the audience (who is present), and the available props. “The self is a product of all of these arrangements,” Goffman said, “and in all of its parts bears the marks of this genesis.” (p. 253) Therefore, how we present ourselves at work relates to how we would define our identity. (Wagner, et al., 2006)

If the self is truly malleable, fluctuating with current life situations, and we shift and evolve our identities over time, then we can only begin to know our selves by being present to who we are being in the moment. (Ibarra, 2004)  To know ourselves, we must begin by unearthing the basic assumptions about how our world operates. At work, the basic assumptions that formulate our presentation strategies include “our emotional relationships with institutions, our benchmarks for success, and our preconceived notions about viable work arrangements.” (p. 83) Only then can we determine what is possible from today’s viewpoint and use this as a launching pad for expanding the view of possibility for tomorrow. We start with “who am I” but then end with “who I might become.” (p. 162)


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Marcia ReynoldsIn addition to coaching leaders in global companies, Dr. Marcia Reynolds travels the world speaking and teaching classes in advanced coaching skills, leadership and emotional intelligence. She is the author of 3 books and has been quoted in major online and print publications in the US and Europe.

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