Governor Kathy Hochul and the all-too-familiar glass cliff

p 1 governor kathy hochul and the all too familiar glass cliff

New York’s first-ever feminine governor, Kathy Hochul, was sworn in on Tuesday in the wake of a disgraced outgoing governor. She is tasked with various vital public well being, schooling, and financial challenges. It’s a narrative that parallels what so {many professional} ladies face when rising to the high—and it’s taking part in out in the highest stage of state politics.

The time period glass cliff—a by-product of the time period glass ceiling, the frequent metaphor for the unstated restrict to how excessive ladies and individuals of shade can rise in a corporation—was coined to point how ladies are incessantly promoted when a corporation is in disaster mode. Typically a last-ditch effort—”what may very well be worse?”—they “put the woman in.” The corporate will get to look progressive and feels free to advertise a person afterward if the feminine government fails. 

Sadly, that is usually the method ladies make it to the high. Many males would flip down an analogous probably deadly profession transfer, not wanting a blemish of failure on a rigorously cultivated observe report (or picture) of success. However generally, it’s the solely probability ladies get.


Ladies have to take the restricted photographs they’re given and create agreements that reward them for these greater danger assignments. Furthermore, they need to lean into what makes so many women strong and successful leaders: competence, aligning individuals with objective, empathy, teaching and mentoring, collaboration, and humility.

Whether or not they’re coming into a poisonous work atmosphere, like the one created by Governor Hochul’s predecessor, or are taking on a corporation stumbling from a product failure, the path to success is analogous: They have to earn the confidence of staff, shareholders, or constituents, by leaning into their enterprise competence, calmly demonstrating mastery of operations and funds. To do that, they need to hearken to knowledgeable colleagues and clearly talk selections and the rationale for making them.

Individuals are motivated by realizing their work has that means and relevance to the overarching objectives of the group. Having a well-defined technique and clearly articulated plan units the course for turning round the enterprise. Aligning individuals—leaders and groups—with the experience to deal with the plan is the first step to implementing change.

Empathy and understanding for worker considerations throughout a disaster or organizational change permits staff to really feel heard. Open strains of communication not solely relieve the stress and nervousness of upheaval, additionally they interact staff in the clean-up course of, and permit revolutionary options to bubble up all through the group. If we discovered nothing else from working remotely for the previous 18 months, we discovered that nice concepts happen at each stage of a corporation, and it pays to hear. Something many women excel at.

Growing high-performance groups is frequent conduct amongst ladies leaders. Analysis suggests that girls usually make investments time in coaching colleagues and mentoring junior of us on the rise. These qualities construct loyalty, which could be essential when a staff must dig a bit deeper, work a bit more durable, for the better good of the group. Equally, ladies leaders are often extra open to hiring people with greater expertise than their very own—mission essential when confronted with rapidly assembling a staff outfitted to deal with the challenges of a corporation in transition or disaster. 

“Collectively Everybody Achieves Extra,” or TEAM, is a typical rallying cry to advertise the advantages of teamwork. A few years in the past, the tech world found the advantages of parallel processing—divvying up advanced duties in order that parts might run concurrently on a number of central processing models to shorten the time to finish the activity. Teamwork and collaboration are the human equal. Ladies leaders dealing with organizational upheaval profit from assembling groups to work on parts of the turnaround plan. Taking a web page out of the agile playbook, the plan could be damaged down into epics and sprints to work towards milestones. Frequent huddles guarantee everyone seems to be on observe and present a chance for groups to share progress and brainstorm options to thorny points. As a bonus, huddles assist to drive worker engagement and preserve individuals aligned with the objective.

Errors will occur. No chief is ideal. In spite of everything, the premise of the glass cliff is that girls usually tend to be promoted to senior chief roles throughout a disaster or downturn, and the group acquired there beneath the earlier regime. What’s essential is to acknowledge errors once they occur, be taught from the expertise, and hearken to the robust staff assembled to stem the slide. Once more, communication is vital to making sure that the group understands any setbacks or refinements to the plan.


For any girl chief who finds herself in a scenario rife with tradition and/or enterprise challenges that should be reversed, she must do not forget that she earned the alternative primarily based on her competence and previous success. She must lean into her strengths, rapidly assemble an knowledgeable staff, transfer ahead decisively, and talk.

Elaine Varelas is managing associate, Keystone Companions the place she spearheads all gross sales and advertising and marketing actions. She additionally at the moment serves as treasurer of Profession Companions Worldwide, LLC, after serving as Chairman of the Board.

Brett C McCarty is Senior Vice President of Advertising and marketing at Keystone Companions. She can be founding father of the Boston- and San Francisco-based Huge Rocks A Advertising and marketing Cooperative, serving as a advertising and marketing advisor to a number of companies together with Blue Cross Blue Protect of Massachusetts, TIAA, and EastWest Advertising and marketing Group the place she served as interim CMO.