Tag Archives: Ruderman

Mid-Year Self-Assessment (It’s Not Just About Performance Objectives)


R&O book coverI urged you at the beginning of June to assess your performance against your objectives. But self-assessment is far broader than just looking at your work objectives. Every so often I return to books that have been influential in my life. One of those is Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women, by Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott. I’ve referenced that book before on this blog. Mid-year is a good time to review the Ruderman & Ohlott analysis of what high achievement requires, along with your performance objectives. Ruderman and Ohlott discuss five themes they found when researching high-achieving women (though I don’t believe the importance of these themes are limited to women). Their themes are:

  1. Acting authentically—keeping your daily actions congruent with your values and beliefs, and not in conflict with principles you hold dear
  2. Making connections—building relationships that matter, and and getting close to people who are important in your life
  3. Controlling your own destiny—acting with agency so that you take control of your life and your success
  4. Achieving wholeness—integrating all parts of your life into your personal sense of identity
  5. Gaining self-clarity—knowing who you are and how you fit into the world; you might call it gaining wisdom

Obviously, these themes are all integrated, and you can’t achieve success in one area without moving forward on others as well. But I have found this five-facet framework to be a usual tool for reviewing my life and determining where I need to focus most immediately. I’ve been returning to this book for around fifteen years now, and whenever I open it, I find something that I can work on. (Which makes sense, since none of us is ever perfect.) This summer, as I reflect on my life in all its facets, I feel good about the following:.

  • Authenticity: I am living my life in accordance with my values.
  • Wholeness: I like how the multiple parts of my life today—family, writing, consulting, mediating—combine to give me a sense of wholeness (though from day to day one aspect or another seems to be taking too much time). I’m not entirely where I want to be in designing my life, but I’m in better shape than at many points in my past.
  • Self-clarity: And after so many years of working on self-awareness, I hope I have some clarity about myself (though some of my family might differ).

However, I do have some things I am working on:

  • Connections: As an introvert, I struggle constantly with making connections. Who do I want in my life, beyond my family and closest friends?
  • Control: Because I am too likely to comply with others’ requests of me, I also have a hard time with controlling my own destiny—I let other people take my time and define my success too easily. I do pretty well, but I must constantly reassess how I am spending my time and what to do about where I’m out of balance.

This brief post is not sufficient to fully describe the five themes that Ruderman and Ohlott offer for those seeking success. But perhaps you can get the sense of how my self-assessment exercise works. At this point in your life and your year, you might take an hour to reflect on each of these five themes. Or use another reference to define areas for self-assessment. The importance is to spend the time in reflection. Where in your life are you going strong? Where do you need to rebalance? Find Standing at the Crossroads at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And for other posts on my blog about self-awareness, click here

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Filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management, Work/Life, Workplace

Make Your Work/Life Balance a Conscious Choice


Some family events this past weekend caused me to reflect again on work/life choices — this time on the choices of three generations in my family.

Like most in their generation, my parents had a traditional marriage, in which the husband worked for pay and the wife worked at home. My father was a workaholic, leaving for the office before dawn each day. He was usually home for dinner, but worked a lot on evenings and weekends, and traveled frequently for his job. My mother took care of house and kids, by herself when she had to.

My husband’s parents had a situation like my parents, except they lived in a smaller town and my father-in-law could come home for lunch each day. But the realms of husband’s and wife’s responsibilities were as separate as in my family.

Like many in our generation, my husband and I struggled to find a path where we both worked and both cared for the household.  We had professional jobs in the same field, and each stayed with our firms for an entire career.

We divided childcare and home responsibilities in ways that made sense to us. We argued over who worked more, or didn’t do their share of chores. We scrambled to find time for everything, and often our time together was the first thing to go. But somehow managed to stay married till our children were grown and life returned to some semblance of sanity.

Our young adult children are now launched in their careers. I see each of them working long hours.  They have jobs they like, but they aren’t wedded to them. Each talks about moving on in a few years; whether they will or not, remains to be seen. And neither as yet has a spouse or children, nor prospects of changing marital status soon.

Three generations, three models, three sets of choices. The models don’t separate by generations – people in each generation have chosen each model. There is no right way to manage work and life.  After more than thirty years of trying to balance work and life, I don’t even think of it as work and life anymore; it’s simply life.

What I encourage my children to do – and what I encouraged younger employees that I mentored to do – is to make their choices consciously, and to re-think those choices regularly.

And so I encourage you, too, to make conscious choices.  Whatever you choose, make it a life that suits your values and leaves room for the discretionary things in life that are important to you.

A few months ago, Dr. Donald E. Wetmore published a post on AMA Net that listed seven things NOT to ignore in your work life balance: 

  • your health
  • your family time
  • your financial health
  • your intellectual development
  • your social contacts
  • your career path
  • your spirituality

That’s a pretty good list, and fits well with the areas mentioned in the book Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women, by Marian N. Ruderman and Patricia J. Ohlott, which I have found helpful for self-assessment.

Where in your life do you need more balance?

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Self-Awareness & Leadership


Self-awareness is important for leaders.

A good book I’ve used to improve my self-awareness over thelast several years is Standing at theCrossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women, by Marian N. Ruderman andPatricia J. Ohlott.  Although this bookfocuses on a survey of high-performing women and what made them successful, Ithink its themes apply to everyone. 

Ruderman and Ohlott advocate five steps that high-achieving women undertake to be successful:

1.       They actauthentically

2.       They make connections

3.       They control their own destiny

4.       They achieve wholeness

5.       They gain self-clarity
These steps are all intertwined, and all require awareness of what is critically important to each of us as an individual. Only when I know what is important to me can I decide how much of my energy to devote to the workplace and where I want our careers to go.Only then can I go about achieving what I want to achieve.

Self-awareness isn’t only important for leaders — it’s important for all of us who work in or with organizations. That’s all of us.

Find Standing at the Crossroads at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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Filed under Diversity, Human Resources, Leadership, Management, Work/Life, Workplace