Much has been made about Sheryl Sandberg’s book and crusade about how women are holding themselves back in the workplace “by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and pulling back when we should be leaning in.” Irene Corner, chief executive of HSBC USA uses the term, “sticky floor”–asserting that women who remain in lower-tier jobs because they don’t proactively try to climb the corporate ladder.

The focus is on women, but I submit that you can insert any minority group and certain personality types into her definition. In fact, I strongly believe it’s in part a lack of education/insight.
The core insight in my book, Mooove Ahead! of the Corporate Herd, is exactly about the education, insight, and motivation needed for EVERY PERSON to mooove ahead in the corporate herd. It’s not just about women. It’s not just about a minority class. My definition of minority in the corporate world is ANYONE who is NOT a Manager.
All the attention is directed at the C level. It’s true there is a dearth of women at that level. There is also a dearth of minorities at that level. Before you can get to the C level, you have to start at the S level and the M level (Supervisor and Manager). Perhaps the first level young professionals need to wake up to and get mentoring, education, and desire for is the L level (leadership).
No disrespect to women and their corporate career challenges. I have a 24 years old daughter. I get it. But I submit again that it is not about women. I see all the same things holding back males (and females) from Asian, India, Eastern Europe, and many Americans. Granted American Caucasian males have an edge but there are still ones who do not mooove ahead. Again, it’s not a minority thing.
There is a very good reason leadership positions are still white male dominated…human beings favor those they are comfortable with.
With that, as an experienced upper level Manager, here are common behaviors and lack of insight I’ve witnessed holding people back:
  • you have to want to get ahead.
  • you have to know where you stand. You have to know what your superiors think about you and how they view you. Get feedback…about you, where you stand, do you have potential, what’s holding you back (strengths and weaknesses), does your perception of you and what you think you are accomplishing match what they perceive
  • you have to let your superiors know you want to get ahead…more specifically, you want to take on more responsibilities
  • you have to invest in your career…that’s what 5pm-8am and weekends are about
  • you have to get superiors to be comfortable with you…that starts with you investing effort to “conforming” with what your superiors are interested in. White males generally enjoy sports. You may not like sports, but you need to take an interest in it so you can interact with those who do…in many cases, those are your superiors.
If you’re not a manager, regardless whether you are a woman, you need to LEARN IN and LEAN IN.