Inside the #SpotItToStopIt movement

Conversation with leaders


You teach people how to treat you

Kristie Edling-Day

Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Advisor Technology, LPL Financial
You teach people how to treat you
Kristie Edling-Day in conversation with Adam Bryant, Senior Managing Director at The Exco Group

Adam Bryant: As a woman in business, what headwinds have you encountered over your career?

Kristie Edling-Day: In many cases, those headwinds have been internal, and I find that I've been the one to get in my own way or get in my own head. A big “aha” for me early in my career was around the psychological difference between men and women. I read an article that said that women “round down” and men “round up.”

As one example, if a woman is looking at a job description for a potential role that they’re interested in, they might see that they meet only seven out of the 10 criteria, and then think that they are not qualified. And so we round down. But men tend to do the opposite. If they meet only five of the ten criteria, that means “I should go for it.” And so I’ve learned to encourage myself to go for things, and I provide that encouragement to other women, as well, because our male colleagues wouldn't hesitate.

Adam: And what about the external headwinds? A lot of them play out in meeting dynamics, like mansplaining or people taking credit for your ideas.

Kristie: Those do happen, and what I do try to do is give grace. It's rarely intentional. And I will say that it’s often a male colleague who will notice that I was getting crowded out and say something. There was one instance when I was on a call about an incident, and there were four men in the room. They were getting competitive and trying to “out technical” one another.

I jumped in and said, “Hey, have we thought about this? Because I think there's a pretty decent likelihood that this is the problem.” I was completely ignored until one of my male peers jumped in and said, “I think Kristie may might have had a point.” That's the best scenario—when a male notices and makes space. And in this case, he later followed up with me and gave me credit for being right.

I also go out of my way to amplify the voices of other women in the room and make sure they get credit, by saying things like, “I thought Jen made a really good point earlier about X.” If women do that for each other, then that's how you create momentum to make a real difference in some of the gender gaps we see.

Adam: Have there been any moments where you had to take somebody aside and have a difficult conversation with them?

Kristie: Yes. In fact, that's been an area of growth for me over the course of my career—being willing to stand up for myself and have those hard conversations. I do, as a general rule, try to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that what they said or did was not intentional. And there have been times in my career when I would just let it go and let it go and let it go. But if you do that enough, then you’re allowing the other person to make their behavior a habit.

One of the mantras I tell myself and I share with female colleagues that I mentor is that you do want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you also teach people how to treat you. You need to recognize that from a very early stage that you can influence how you are ultimately treated. And the longer you wait, the more uncomfortable it gets. If I do have to talk someone after a meeting, I’ll use the framework of distinguishing between intent and impact—"I'm sure your intent was not X, but the impact on me when you did this was Y.”

Adam: Where does your drive come from?

Kristie: I think some of it is genetic. I'm the older of two, and I was a terribly unfair older sister. For example, I would like to ask my brother to race just because I knew I could beat him. My father’s also very competitive. He wouldn’t let us beat him at any game.

And a powerful conversation I had with him early on really influenced how I think about things today. I had always loved the violin. I appreciated music growing up, and my parents were supportive of me getting violin lessons. We didn’t have a lot growing up, and they made sacrifices for me to do that.

A few months into taking those lessons, I realized, this is hard. I decided I didn’t want to spend time practicing to really be good at the violin. I remember sitting in my parents' bedroom, telling my dad I wanted to quit the violin. He said, “That means you're quitting. Are you a quitter?” I remember not even fully wrapping my head around what that would mean, but it sounded like a bad thing. And I decided then that I am not a quitter. I still remember the conversation to this day as being one of those moments when you decide what’s really important to you.

Adam: When you're coaching other women about how to navigate these headwinds, what do you tell them?

Kristie: I don't want to be the woman with her head buried in the sand and say that we don't encounter challenges that are unique and different. There are cultural and professional challenges that women face. And I'm not denying that there are biases—intentional sometimes, unintentional most of the time. But I am a huge believer in the power of attitude and how important attitude is for driving success and influencing the course of the future.

I have seen women get tripped up and become negative, focused on the idea that “I’m not achieving because I'm a woman. I'm not being treated fairly because I'm a woman. I'm not being listened to because I'm a woman.” That can become the narrative that you put your head and then all your experience reinforces those notions.

But I always coach people not to try to change the things that are the way they are and have been for a long time. Focus on where you can make a difference. Focus on the little steps that you can take that will translate into success for you personally in the future. How do you build some alliances and create the space that you need to thrive and be successful? You can create a pocket of goodness and that is totally within your control. So control what you can control rather than focusing on what you can't control.