Monthly Archives: October 2014

Athletic C-Suite


As an external contractor to EY (Ernst & Young) and former college tri-athlete (run, bike, swim), I am pleased to see EY’s latest global survey conducted on female leadership.*



52% of the C-Suite women played a sport at the university level, compared to 39% of women at other management levels. (Only 3% of C- suite women said they had never played a sport).

These high-level executive women have learned to “stay in the game” by keeping their “eye on the ball.” In other words, athletic executives know how to work on the task with talented colleagues by focusing on their colleagues’ capabilities; not their personality.  This leads to goal achievement and project completion.  Emotional pettiness is pushed to the sidelines.


Athleticism Leads to Positive Role Models

EY’s findings follow much of the Top 10 leadership traits of positive thinkers in business. Based on Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s work in positivity, Scott Ventrella wrote, “Positive thinkers are tough-minded, reality-based people who blast through problems with energy and zeal.”

Here’s a quick review:

  1. Optimism.  EY found that when the pressure is on, athletes will not be let down.
  2. Enthusiasm.  EY found that athletes demonstrate greater abilities in motivating others.
  3. Belief.  EY found that athletes’ belief in themselves show as ambition and drive. See Michael Jordan’s road to success in 30 seconds:
  4. Integrity.  EY found athletic executives demonstrate a strong “work ethic.” Their word and readiness to “play fair” is uncompromising in the quest to gain a true victory. Former President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.  Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on…a football field…or in an office.”
  5. Courage.  EY found that 74% describe “competitive” as an asset to their leadership style.  From the battle of brain versus brawn, in David & Goliath, to the modern-day conference meeting, it takes courage to compete and enter an arena where you know there are higher-ranked “players” &/or you are out-numbered by “combatants.”
  6. Confidence.  EY found that the executive women surveyed considered the most important contributors to their current career success included confidence.
  7. Determination.  EY found that athletes are seen as inspiring because of their hard work and determination.
  8. Patience.  EY found that team building and communication skills were developed by sport.  These processes require patience as the Initiator acquires the skill to enable these, and the teammate recognizes the intent behind the approach as the Initiator finesses her leadership.
  9. Calmness.  EY found that most executives believe sport helps them “unwind.”  Losing the mounting pressures from the day by loosening the tightened muscles provides a sense of calmness.
  10. Focus.  EY found that 37% say sport helps them focus on their work.
  11. (I add) Curiosity.  EY found “superior problem-solving ability” to be among their athletic executives. A curious mind leads to an agile mind.


Two Personal Lessons from Sports

  1. High School. There were not enough girls interested in varsity volleyball or basketball (my two favorite team sports) to form two teams.  So, I asked our sole Physical Education (P.E.) Coach if I could try out for boys’ varsity.  He told me no.  I deliberately asked, “Are you saying that I can’t be on varsity, even if I’m better than some of the guys?” Yes. TRANSLATION TO WORKPLACE: Sometimes you may be the best person for the job, and the position will go to someone else.
  2. College. We were required to take a co-ed Health course, which included a two-mile run.  Given that running was my strength, I was at the head of the pack – not the first, but in the top 5.  Upon completion, while those who cleared the finish were hacking and my breath rate was fairly normal, a male classmate approached me and shared, “Here I was running as hard as I could, thinking that I was doing well, and when I looked ahead and saw a woman several runners ahead of me, I thought, ‘Hey! I have to beat her!’”  I replied, “Why not beat the person ahead of you?  The head of the pack?  Your own best personal time?”  (The next closest female classmate, who was mid-pack, shared the same sentiment to me later). TRANSLATION TO WORKPLACE: Sometimes people will use you as a benchmark for their success, to affirm their own identity and out of whatever other subjective reasons.

The ball’s in your court now.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

©Rossina Gil, 2014



Ventrella, Scott, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business.


*”The research report, Making the connection: women, sport and leadership, based on a global online survey of 400 women executives, was conducted by Longitude Research across Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, with the top five responding countries being Brazil, Canada, China, the UK and the United States. Half (49%) of those surveyed were in the C-suite, meaning that they serve on the board of directors at a company or in another C-level position, such as CEO, CFO or COO. The remaining 51% surveyed were in other management positions.”


MidSouth Diversity & Inclusion Summit, November 19, 2014


In collaboration with Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management (MT|SHRM), Corporate Looking Glass, LLC, presents the 2014 MidSouth Diversity & Inclusion Summit, November 19, 2014, 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM.

Keynote Speaker, Greg Warren, VP of Global Talent Management for the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart. Panelists include: Jeffrey Webster, Director of Diversity for Nissan Headquarters Americas; Kim Fisher, Principal of Human Capital for EY; and Susan Heard, VP of the Paradigm Group.

Register at

Business professionals, Human Resource (HR) experts, and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) leaders from top-performing firms are actively participating in this full-day summit to deliver their Best Practices and share their company success in measuring the effectiveness of D&I business strategies.

Reasons to Attend

  • Improve your understanding of D&I metrics
  • Learn best practices and lessons learned from the state’s leading practitioners
  • Build your professional network of peers and resources
  • Gain tools and resources to advance D&I strategy within your organization

Who Should Attend

  • Business Leaders who have the responsibility to recruit diverse talent, promote employee engagement, and develop inclusive leaders
  • Professionals seeking practicable, actionable guidance on implementing D&I strategy
  • D&I practitioners who want to share with, and learn from, peers

Talent Retention


Statistics show that Millennials are likely to stay at an organization for no more than 3 years, on average.  This baffles Senior Management (mostly Boomers), who cannot fathom why.  According to Joyce Russell, President/EVP of Adecco Staffing USA, exit interviews reveal that Millennials wish to have flexibility, and feel happy and valued.

While a student at Claremont Graduate University, I remember Peter Drucker once told us that professional women tend to opt to either join smaller companies or become “solopreneurs” after having experienced working for large organizations.  Educated women weigh and work their options.  Consequently, many have “opted out” of large organizations.  Southwest Airlines understood this and became the leading business in a saturated airlines market precisely because they tapped into America’s highest underutilized talent base: women.  JetBlue (founded by ex-Southwest employees) followed suit, and has also capitalized on market share by hiring those who wish to work from home.

Consulting with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) employees for 10+ years, I can attest that supervisors at J&J know that if they hire someone, that person is talent.  Period.  Talent is never to be set up to fail.  If you look good, they look good.


How to Keep High-Potentials (Everybody)

  • Proper On-Boarding. Get your new talent to participate in a professional on-boarding program.  Teradata offers a two-week program every quarter.  All of its new talent flies in from around the world to attend.  General Electric does the same for three weeks.
  • Perform a New Leader Integration. Between 30-90 days, an Organization Development practitioner should conduct a half-day process of integrating the team and leader, so that expectations are aligned and questions are answered.
  • Boil It Down to Two Closed-Ended Questions. If the supervisor has two affirmatives, then the accountability falls on his/her shoulders as to how the talent did not succeed &/or got away.  If there is even one Yes, then there is evidence that the supervisor is lacking managerial competency.
  1. “Is this person critical to your team success?” It’s easy for managers of common organizations to say after an employee has departed, “Well, we didn’t need John/Jane Doe.  S/He wasn’t that organized* [*fill in whatever adjective].”
  2. “Is this person at risk to leave the organization?” This requires on-going communication between manager and direct report.  And, an Individualized Retention Plan (IRP).  IRP’s tap into what exactly motivates each person to show up and perform at his/her optimal level.
  • Tie Retention into Compensation. One way to get Senior Management’s attention is to attach talent retention into the supervisor’s bonus.  Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin engages in this Best Practice.  Policy has enabled managers to point the finger back at themselves.  However, one local CEO has his bonus written in his contract that he is to receive his annual bonus, regardless to the fact that he has led an organization which has conducted seven consecutive years of lay-off’s (and at Christmas, no less).
  • Equitable Practice. This last topic brings us to equitable management.  Just like you wouldn’t treat your parents or children (if you have any) exactly the same, you would know as a supervisor that each person has different needs.  Tailor and adapt your practices to each direct report.  This is why there is a Boss Day in Japan; because, supervisors are expected to be mindful of the particular needs of each person on the team.  One failure = collective failure.

If your manager doesn’t understand these principles, then s/he is not talent; signaling a red flag.

Exit stage-left.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

©Rossina Gil, 2014



Joyce Russell, CABLE Board Walk of Fame, 9.30.14