Women Leaders: Facebook & Yahoo | UC Berkeley Executive Education

Women Leaders: Facebook & Yahoo | UC Berkeley Executive Education


>>Interviewer:
What lessons are there perhaps that we can learn from women in high profile leadership
positions at, say Facebook versus Yahoo?>>Dr. McElhaney:
I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and have done a little bit of work with her because
she did start this conversation. She really brought this conversation to the
floor and made it into what is really now a culturally relevant conversation. She admitted that there are ways in which
she had held herself back. She talked about women who worked for her
who wouldn’t sit at the main table at a meeting, who chose to sit at a perimeter seat in a
meeting. One of my favorite stories, there’s so many
great stories in the book, she’s a very effective storyteller, is a time when she was working
at Google. She was very pregnant and was pushing the
time on a meeting that she was supposed to attend. Parking was full, she got in a bit late, so
she had to park in the very back of the parking lot. She came rushing into the meeting and was
incredibly winded, which happens when you try to move fast as a very pregnant woman,
and the CEO at the time said, “What’s going on? Are you okay?” I’m sure he was very concerned that she was
going to go into labor in the office. She told him she had to park in the back. He looked at her and said, “Why don’t we put
maternity parking in the front? We can reserve some spaces.” Very easy ask, no problem to do, and I think
just making women aware that they have a voice. The situation at Yahoo is a bit different. Marissa hasn’t spoken out as much on how there
may or may not be gender differences in her leadership style and what she’s trying to
do, but there is an interesting research finding. Women tend to get chosen for difficult leadership
roles, a company that may not already be doing well, to a much higher level than companies
would choose men. The board of Yahoo chose Marissa at a time
in which Yahoo was struggling in a very large way and there might be something to look into
around that because there’s a much higher failure rate. Then the world can tend to attribute that
failure to the fact that she’s a woman.>>Interviewer:
The fact that maybe they were set up not to succeed as easily it seems.>>Dr. McElhaney:
On the other hand, Marissa Mayer, she appears to be a highly risk tolerant leader. She’s clearly successful in her past and I
could imagine with somebody who has that kind of driven personality it’s a big challenge
to go into a company that’s really struggling and try to rightsize it.

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