Leadership Recommendation….MOOCs

Image result for woman scholar

This is an unpaid, unsolicited, yet passionate recommendation for a leadership tool I suggest for all leaders looking to improve their skills at work, in the community and at home. The tool is a MOOC, or a “massive open online course”. More details on these below.

There is one particular course I would like to draw to your attention. That is:

Women In Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change

from Professor Bilimoria of Case Western Reserve. This is a course all leaders, women and men should investigate. Today. Here is the link:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/women-in-leadership/home/welcome

In this course, Professor Bilimoria does an extraordinary job of traversing the many aspects of women in leadership. The course is divided into 5 weeks of work, each week covering a different topic in leadership. For each week, there are videos (lectures), readings (incredible – worth checking out just for this), and discussion prompts. Throughout the lessons, the professor also encourages reflection exercises and homework assignments designed to inspire you to look within and internalize the lesson. There is also a quiz for each week – this is not available unless you pay the fee for the certificate. I found that I lost nothing by skipping these quizzes.

 

The entire course is worthwhile to all leaders, regardless of gender, but I’d like to point out just a few topics that are important for men and women to consider.

In Week 2, Professor Bilimoria discusses the current state of women in leadership. She discusses the different barriers that women face in the workplace, including organizational, interpersonal, and individual barriers. All of this is thoroughly and thoughtfully researched, yet I would expect that some people would be surprised by what they hear! She discusses the difference between 1st generation bias (overt sexism, harassment, things you can clearly identify as bias) and 2nd generation bias (lack of access to networks, gendered work and career paths, and the ‘double bind’ women face). It is critical that we all become aware of these barriers in our workplaces as this awareness is the first critical step to rectifying it.

In Week 4, the topic is Leadership Tools for Women, and here the professor gives important information and advice on negotiation. While I believe in the statistic that shows that women do not negotiate at the same level as men, I also believe that there are plenty of men who could make use of this advice.

I want to encourage anyone and everyone to take a look at this course. Listen to a few of the lectures. If you are feeling motivated, answer some of the discussion prompts. If you are an over-achiever, answer some of the reflection questions she asks. All of this information is important for both men and women to hear, to think about, and to discuss with others. I hope you will take a look, and then share with others.

A bit about MOOCs:

If you have not come across these before, you need to go check them out. Right now. MOOCs offer college-level courses from major universities (Princeton, Stanford, etc.), covering an unimaginable number of topics. And the best part is they are free! Most of the websites offer paid options – you can earn a certificate for a small fee, sign up for a program of classes for a larger fee, or even earn an online degree for a much more substantial fee. In most cases, however, the classes can be audited for no charge.

I have found every course I have taken to be of extremely high quality, and in each case I got out of the class exactly what I put into it. If the subject matter was not of intense interest to me, I watched the videos until I got what I needed, and then moved on – no problem.

Here are links to the two sites I have used and highly endorse:

Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/

edX: https://www.edx.org/

Take a look – you may learn something new!

Keep it positive and smile! Happy Thursday!

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Back to School…Finding the balance?

school-bus

I have a question: How do they do it? How do all of these families manage to get their kids involved in activities like, say, after-school enrichment that requires pick-up by 3:15? Or soccer practice that begins at 5:30?  Or the game starts at 6pm on the other side of town?

I’ve done some thinking on this issue, and it comes back to the idea of balance.  Or a better word – prioritization. Sometimes you can leave work early. Sometimes you cannot. Sometimes making the choice is extraordinarily difficult. Then there are the times where the decision is not so clear, and it is those moments we have to look at how we balance and prioritize our lives.

It is that time of year. The kids are back in school and the newness of starting a fresh year has worn off. The bus schedules have been deciphered, the noise of the alarm clock is now familiar (not that we got the summer off, but hearing it go off that early?). Homework has begun in earnest.

Along with all of that the evening activities have begun.  For us, that means soccer practice two times each week for two of the kids, play practice, drum lessons, saxophone lessons, voice lessons, gymnastics, freestyle gymnastics, running club…. Even with all of this, I am still wracked with guilt over the idea that I am not doing enough to expose my children to what they need to be successful in life.

On top of all of this, my husband and I have our lives, and we are still living them. We both have demanding careers. I sit on the board of the local Zonta Club, I serve on the steering committee (and a few other committees)  of a leadership giving circle for the local United Way, my husband is a semi-active member of the local guitar scene, and we are working on forming a family band.

As if that is not enough, I am back in school myself.

So the idea of balance is a funny word in this context. We, like a large number of families especially at this time of year are too busy to worry about balance. We just keep moving forward, on to the next activity, coordinating on the fly. This is not the ideal way to live, but there is not a single ball we are willing to drop. In fact, we keep looking for more.

But the lesson is to look for those opportunities where you have a choice. Do I really need to work late tonight? Does my son really need to participate in that activity? Be intentional about how you spend those moments, and then learn a lesson from me – let go of the guilt. Guilt is not a productive emotion, and should be relegated to the trash heap. Cherish every moment, both at work and at home, and cultivate an attitude of gratefulness. This is how you attain “balance.”

And keep it positive and smile!

Happy Friday!