Need an example of feminine leadership principles in action? Meet Karen May, Vice President of People Development at Google. Her job description is steeped in feminine values like connection, collaboration, and compassion:
“I work with leaders, teams, and companies to help them be their best. I provide one-on-one leadership coaching to help people learn and grow as leaders. I’m a thought partner through tough challenges. I facilitate teams and groups through strategic planning, problem-solving, and conflict situations. Additionally, I develop and deliver leadership development courses that are experiential and practical.”
Karen oversees a global team that supports more than 34,000 Googlers in more than 70 offices in over 40 countries.
Her team implements a broad range of developmental offerings, including executive coaching, new hire onboarding, leadership development, and peer-to-peer instruction for Googlers of all levels, regions, and tenure. That means Googlers lead classes for others Googlers on whatever they’re passionate about, including their extracurricular skills like kickboxing or meditation.
“It’s a remarkable thing to put someone in teaching mode,” May says. “In a way, you get to see the best of them.” And by providing learning experiences that meet not just their career needs but also their life interests, May creates an atmosphere where Googlers can bring their whole selves to work.
“It’s a remarkable thing to put someone in teaching mode. In a way, you get to see the best of them.”
With more than 20 years of professional experience as an organizational psychologist and a leadership coach, Karen knows firsthand the importance of connection in a corporate setting. In a recent New York Times interview, she says, “Where I ended up helping people often was in relationships with others, and understanding the impact they have on the people around them, cultivating some empathy, learning to listen, learning to give other people the spotlight, learning to work collaboratively.” She adds, “It wasn’t usually from a lack of willingness to do those things, but they didn’t have a strong muscle.”
Watch Karen flex her listening muscle in this clip from her awesome conversation with spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle at the 2014 Wisdom.2.0 Conference in San Francisco: