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Home » The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get: Susan Colantuono (Transcript)

The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get: Susan Colantuono (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Susan Colantuono’s talk titled “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get” at TED conference.

Susan Colantuono’s TED Talk, “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get,” highlights a significant oversight in career development advice for women, focusing on the missing 33 percent of the equation for reaching top leadership positions. She observes that while women hold 50 percent of middle management and professional positions, they are significantly underrepresented at the highest levels of organizations.

Colantuono argues that leadership skills and business, strategic, and financial acumen are critical for advancement, yet women often receive advice that neglects these areas. The talk points out that performance management and talent development systems disproportionately emphasize personal effectiveness and interpersonal skills over strategic and financial insight. Colantuono calls for a shift in mentoring practices, urging mentors to equally prepare women for business leadership by emphasizing the importance of understanding and contributing to the organization’s strategic goals.

She stresses the role of corporate structures and mentors in closing the gender gap at the top by ensuring women are also guided towards developing this crucial skill set. Ultimately, Colantuono’s message is a call to action for women to focus on building their strategic and financial acumen and for organizations to support them in this endeavor, aiming to create a level playing field for all aspiring leaders.

Listen to the audio version here:


Understanding the Leadership Gap

Women represent 50 percent of middle management and professional positions, but the percentages of women at the top of organizations represent not even a third of that number. So, some people hear that statistic and they ask, “Why do we have so few women leaders?” But I look at that statistic and, if you, like me, believe that leadership manifests at every level, you would see that there’s a tremendous, awesome resource of leaders who are leading in middle management. This raises a different question: Why are there so many women mired in the middle and what has to happen to take them to the top?

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