The Power of Choice Book Summary - The Power of Choice Book explained in key points

The Power of Choice summary

Michael C. Hyter

Embracing Efficacy to Drive Your Career

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What is The Power of Choice about?

The Power of Choice (2020) is a guide for professionals who are underrepresented in their fields or who are struggling to fit into their workplace cultures. Drawing on a practical set of principles, it shows how anyone can navigate setbacks at work by embracing personal responsibility. It also includes tips on how to improve self-confidence and mobilize professional relationships for long-term career growth.

About the Author

Michael C. Hyter is President and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, a membership organization for Black CEOs, board directors, and senior executives. He was previously Chief Diversity Officer at the global consulting firm Korn Ferry, and he also headed its Washington, DC, office. He is the coauthor of The Power of Inclusion.

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Bypass others’ low expectations of you by focusing on what you can control.

Say you’re a confident graduate who gets hired by a top firm in your field. Then, on your first day at your new job, you notice you’re one of the few people among your peers from a minority background. A week later, you overhear a senior partner invite the only other junior hire out to lunch. Over the next few weeks, that junior benefits from personal mentorship, while you get little if any coaching. 

Just as you’re questioning whether you fit in, you miss an important deadline. After your manager rebukes you in front of your peers, you’re left completely dejected. You’re sure that it’s time to throw in the towel. 

But is it really? Or could it just be that you are caught in a downward spiral of low expectations

The key message here is: Bypass others’ low expectations of you by focusing on what you can control.

Despite the progress toward diversity in the workplace, many of us still have to confront lingering stereotypes: People doubting a woman’s ability to make a tough call, or an executive of color’s ability to lead an all-white organization. Although it's certainly demoralizing to confront low expectations from others, the greater harm happens when you internalize their doubts in your own mind.

Sometimes all it takes is detecting suspicion in a colleague's voice, or noticing that you're not being considered for opportunities as regularly as your peers. This can trigger the downward spiral of low expectations mentioned earlier. Say someone’s overt or subtle skepticism about your abilities leads you to seriously question whether you have what it takes. Once confidence is compromised, people tend to exert less effort; as a result, performance is less likely to be satisfactory, which ultimately acts to confirm the original low expectations.

To avoid getting caught in this downward spiral, the author – who heads a leadership development organization for Black CEOs and senior executives – recommends focusing on what you can control. Regardless of what others say or do, he maintains that your power to achieve your desired outcomes rests on how you respond. In his own words, “It's not the stimulus, it's the response.” 

The response he recommends focuses on embracing personal responsibility in your career development and expanding your sense of possibility about what you can accomplish. In these blinks, we’ll look at the underlying principles, which involve cultivating the technical, relational, and influential skills required to grow your network and career. 

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Who should read The Power of Choice

  • Professionals with underrepresented identities and backgrounds
  • Managers and leaders seeking to become more influential
  • Career-driven individuals who are interested in self-improvement

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