Playing to Win in Business

Shirley A. Weis

In this candid, authentic and inspirational book for women, Shirley Weis reveals her principles for winning the game in business. When you read it, you will learn how to:
— Use “Just Respect” (TM) to build relationships throughout your organization
— Gain the experience that leaders require
— Thrive during challenges and survive failures
— Manage family needs while climbing the corporate ladder
— Earn a spot at the management table, even when it is full of men

About "A Bird in a Gilded Cage?"

Sometimes “winning” is being able to be the authentic “you.” When you choose to work in an organization, you agree to play by the rules that have been established. These rules may or may not coincide with your personal values, styles or desires. Over time the formal rules may also be changed as a new leader is put in place or the organization undergoes rapid change.


I have had to seriously assess whether it was worth it for me to stay in a role if it meant not being able to be the real me many times over the course of my career. At times, I have felt like a “bird in a gilded cage.” That is, I felt I had to choose to sing the songs that pleased those around me. It was the price I paid to fit in, to be accepted and to succeed.


Most of my role models throughout my career have been men. I learned early on to talk and behave like them in order to be accepted by them. In fact in the 1980s, I even looked a bit like them when I wore a conservative business suit with a woman’s version of a big bow tie. The feminine touch was my skirt and high heels. In exchange for my willingness to be a lovely “bird,” I was offered a safe, clean cage complete with regular paycheck, nice benefits and growing levels of responsibility and authority.


I observed and listened intently to my male mentors so that I could better speak their language and be invited to join their conversations. I developed my own voice and began to use humor and self-deprecation as a technique to be more “me.” I also worked hard to establish myself as an expert so that I would have greater opportunities to speak up with my authentic voice.


Sooner or later after working for period of time in an organization, I would hear this little voice inside me begin to sing another tune and realize that perhaps it was time to leave that “gilded cage.” It was scary to think of leaving the safety and security of a lovely “gilded cage” in order to be able to spread my wings and fly in a different direction. But each time I did it so I could have more of my voice and be able to sing more of my songs. Being authentic is a form of “winning.”


Your definition of “winning” is the only one that counts.

About the Author

Shirley Weis went from the bedside to the boardroom in her healthcare career becoming the chief operational officer in one of the most famous healthcare organizations in the world — the Mayo Clinic. Her success was due to her understanding of the rules of the game especially those about which many women are unaware — the unwritten rules of career success.

Shirley is the former Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic where her work involved overseeing 60,000 employees and $9 billion in revenues. She leads her own consulting firm, serves on national boards and acts as a special advisor to the President of Arizona State University. She is an accomplished speaker who energizes audiences of all backgrounds and experiences.