Reasons to support women in leadership are not hard to find. Thanks to John for reminding us all! – InPower Editors
Two weeks ago, I facilitated a webinar for 505 Georgetown alumni aging in range from 20s through 70s. The vast majority were women, though not all, and there was a true cross section of positions, from up and comers to middle management to senior level executives.
First, we set the stage, with which we are all familiar: Approximately half the workforce are women, about a third of middle management and just 5% of CEOs.
What we all must realize is that this is not only wrong, it is not smart.
Women and men tend to have different leadership strengths, and in today’s very competitive business world, we need to offer our people the very best leadership we can.
Women’s natural leadership competencies include:
- Caring about their team
- Being empathetic
- Asking questions, for input, opinions, advice
- Listening to understand and learn
- Having conversations (which is the work of a leader)
- Developing lasting relationships
- Being risk aware
- Including others in decision making when appropriate
It is said that managers focus on numbers; leaders focus on people. And managers tell; leaders ask. These competencies are critically important, as they touch the people of a company, helping them feel appreciated and engaged.
If we want our companies to succeed, we need women in important roles so they may positively impact our culture, our spirit and our financial results. Of course, to do that, we must be eager to accommodate the need for flexibility in the work place, especially for those women (and men) who have child care and elderly care responsibilities. What matters are results, not hours at a desk. I suggest we all study ROWE – Results-Only Work Environment.
Let’s remember that the best ideas are bottom up ideas. I believe we should look to our people, ask them about the work environment that will enable flexibility for those need it. Let’s give it a try, trust that it will be appreciated and lead to sustainable outstanding financials. Here are a couple of quick stories:
A friend recently told me how pleased he is with his financial advisor. He only recently learned she frequently works from home because she always promptly returns his calls and emails, answering his questions and fulfilling his needs.
Another friend often works from her apartment from the early hours of the morning when she often awakes, till as late as 2 am if she feels compelled to complete a project. (I know, she is a workaholic! But, it’s great for her that she is able to prioritize what she feels is important when she feels it’s important.)
I am thrilled by the media attention, which is greater than ever, being focused on the dearth of women in senior management. Thanks goes to to Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Hillary Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, Julie Foudy, Mary Holt and many, many other accomplished women who are drawing attention to the problem of us needing more female leaders in the workforce.
My reason for writing this paper is to encourage men to step up alongside their female counterparts to help fix this problem, to be supportive of the need to include women in leadership.
Please, men, encourage, mentor, sponsor women, ask them what you can do to enable them to achieve the success they aspire to and still fulfill important family responsibilities. Realize that our businesses will thrive. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce states – this is not a gender issue, it is an economic issue.
Following the webinar, I heard from a number of people who shared that these messages are also helpful to men as well as other minorities in business. If anyone is interested, I’ll be happy to share the take-a-ways from the webinar. Just email me.
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