Welcome to All Rise
A newsletter about working across barriers, creating solidarity and rising together.
Welcome to the All Rise newsletter. I’m Sally Helgesen, author, speaker and leadership coach. For the last 30 years I’ve worked with leaders all over the world seeking to build more inclusive cultures, always with the goal of helping the greatest possible number of people to rise. I’ve watched how we think about leadership evolve and feel grateful to have contributed to that evolution. And I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on where it’s all headed: again, with the goal of helping all of us to rise.
A little bit about how I got here. In 1990, I published The Female Advantage: Women’s Ways of Leadership–– remarkably, it’s still in print after nearly 32 years. Since it was the first book to focus on what women had to contribute as leaders, rather than how they needed to change and adapt, it landed with a big impact.
At the time, most experts advocated a competitive, take-no-prisoners approach to leadership, combined with a reverence for hierarchy and a laser-like focus on performance and the bottom line. The kind of inclusive practices we now consider leadership skills–– collaboration, teamwork, listening, communicating across boundaries, mentoring, motivating people, unleashing their creative potential–– these were dismissed as soft stuff.
The Female Advantage began to change that, helped by the shift to networked technologies and the growing emphasis on the role of knowledge. As it turned out, the inclusive and weblike structures that women tended to thrive in were a natural fit for the flatter, nimbler and more interconnected organizations that emerged as people began to communicate more directly.
When I published The Web of Inclusion: A New Architecture for Building Great Organizations, in 1995, the idea was to look at how to put the web model of leadership and its values into practice in organizations of every kind. The case studies I profiled in the book got picked up as case studies by business schools and the language of inclusion began to find a home in the workplace. Like any influential book or venture, The Web of Inclusion was in the right place at the right time, having debuted on the scene just as the internet was beginning to explode. The Wall Street Journal cited it as one of the best books on leadership of all time.
A turning point came in 2010. I’d just published The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work and had begun delivering workshops around the world about how women could tap this power. These workshops gave me a rich education into the internal barriers that held women back.
My long-time friend and colleague Marshall Goldsmith had just published his huge bestseller, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Marshall’s fundamental insight–– that behaviors that serve you well early in your career often undermine you as you move to a higher position–– was brilliant and I saw it play out for the women in my workshops. However, it was also clear to me that many of the behaviors in the book seemed to skew male, while habits I’d seen undermine women–– reluctance to claim achievements, putting your job before your career, perfectionism, the disease to please, excessive humility– were nowhere to be found.
I suggested to Marshall that we collaborate on a book on self-limiting behaviors, but with a focus on women. He loved it, and saw it, with his trademark exuberance, as a win/win/win/win (him, me, women, men). We set to work.
In 2018, we published How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion or Job. And I have to say that working so closely with Marshall, and seeing the book strike such a deep chord all over the world, has brought me more satisfaction and stimulation than I ever thought possible. I’ve been giving talks and running workshops on How Women Rise since early 2018–– in person, and then virtually since COVID–– and have found the global resonance of this work astonishing.
One of the most gratifying aspects has been the response from men. On the day the book was published, I was doing back-to-back radio interviews. The first host I spoke with told me right off the bat that he identified with at least six behaviors in the book. That set the tone going forward.
Not only did an astonishing number of men tell me they identified with some of the habits in the book, even those who did not were eager to engage with the topic because they wanted to become more effective colleagues, allies and mentors for women. I can think of no more hopeful sign that things are evolving.
This brings me to the reason I am creating my All Rise newsletter on Substack.
Since spring, I’ve been conducting research and wrestling with the first chapters of my next book, Rising Together, which will be published by Hachette in early 2023.
The book examines the real-life triggers that often hold men and women back from working together as powerfully as possible and building true solidarity. And it identifies practices that help us move beyond divisions.
This is the most exciting work I’ve ever done and I wanted an opportunity to test out ideas and stories while in the process of writing. I also wanted to begin building a community of men and women committed to these goals before the book sees the light of day.
So I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you and hearing from you in all your glorious diversity. I want to make you part of this book and the programs I’ll be doing with the aspiration that doing so will help us All Rise!
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