With women comprising almost 50% of the workforce and attaining almost 70% of the advanced degrees in this country, they aren’t just influencing the workplace — they’re shaping it. This is good news.

Women can bring a different sensibility to work. They arrive ready to participate, eager to be part of a team, wired to care about the company’s product or service. They bring a personal investment to their jobs and to producing excellent results.

The dark side for women in the workplace is that they sometimes care too much. This becomes apparent when women don’t set healthy boundaries around their workloads. Some women take work home every night, stay at the office until 11 p.m., respond to e-mails at 2 a.m., or find themselves out of town so much that they have no personal life.

Caring too much can also involve taking business interactions and business relationships too personally. The harsh words of a disgruntled boss can devastate some women. (read more…)

Recently, I was entering candidates into our database and came across the title “vice president of people and culture.” Because our system has a finite number of job categories, I was forced to choose “human resources” for this particular individual. Doing so just felt wrong because in my mind there’s clearly a difference.

This got me thinking: Is HR as a job category going away? Are we moving away from titles such as “vice president of human resources?” More and more, I’m seeing titles reflect words like “people” and “culture” and “talent” versus the traditional human resources. And while I certainly understand this trend, it’s important not to simply replace one with the other.

To me, “human resources” still reflects the function of managing personnel, from recruitment and onboarding to performance and compensation. As industry experts might suggest, HR is more transactional than strategic.

“People” and “culture,” on the other hand, represent the broader workforce from which a company draws its value. (read more…)

Should great leaders communicate their vision or listen effectively? This question poses an interesting dilemma for many leaders. In some ways, it’s like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

It’s critical for a great leader to have both traits. They must be able to communicate a compelling vision for the company’s future and also listen effectively to their stakeholders, gathering key input as they move their organizations forwards.

Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz have been truly visionary business leaders who also listened carefully to input. Additionally, President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi all had extraordinary visions, communicated effectively and, in times of crisis, appealed to their constituents, compelling them to change behaviors. These leaders all inspired their followers, helping them feel better about their future and motivating them to take action.

It’s not enough to be just visionary, since the vision crafted and the follow-up actions may not be connected to followers’ needs and aspirations. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 170,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each Tuesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: As you’ve delivered year-end reviews, how are your people reacting?

  • They’re not at all surprised with their ratings: 49.7%
  • They received the rating they expected with one or two surprises: 37.88%
  • Their rating didn’t closely match their expectations but it was close: 6.06%
  • Their rating varied dramatically from what they expected to receive: 6.36%

Surprises in reviews aren’t good presents. I know it’s the holidays and you want to get the members of your team a surprise present but a surprise in their review is like a lump of coal in their stocking. Your people shouldn’t be surprised by anything in their reviews if you’ve been giving regular feedback, having ongoing development conversations and going through a rigorous self-appraisal process. I’m doubting any of the surprises they received were pleasant ones. Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you — resolve that in 2013 your people won’t have any year-end review surprises. (read more…)

CareerBliss.com recently released its list of the 50 Happiest Companies in America for 2013. CareerBliss receives thousands of independent employee-provided reviews each year. These are analyzed for key factors which affect work happiness, including work-life balance, boss relationships, co-worker relationships, company culture, compensation, and control over the work they do each day.

The happiest company in America for the coming year is Pfizer, which moved up from 11th place in last year’s list.

Every company on the top 50 list should be proud of that accomplishment. They are working hard to create a happy, rewarding work culture for their primary internal customers: Their employees!

To what extent does your company intentionally create a happy, rewarding work culture for staff? You can go to CareerBliss to see if your company is rated. An even better place to start: Ask your employees.

Most senior leaders put greater thought into their products and services than they do into their culture — yet culture drives everything that happens in an organization, for better or worse. (read more…)