Want to sustain outstanding results in business? Then leadership must build a culture and environment where both women and men will thrive.
The demand is right around the corner and the millennials will expect it for young men are used to working with women as equals. Today’s college graduation population is 60% female, and business schools are about 40%. In addition these women are earning higher grades, so how can you attract and retain this great field of talent? We know that organizations have not been successful at creating such a workplace that provides opportunities for both men and women. This is reflected in the pitiful amount of female CEO’s (2%) and women in congress (18%).
What will help us achieve the results we want? First, we must have a highly energized, aligned and loyal organizational culture. A culture where women can see themselves in the leadership that is already in place. For example are there female board members or women at the C-suite level. These millennials will want to be able to see that there is a path and an opportunity for them to move to the top if they put in the work. Is this reflected in leadership at your workplace?
Second, is the workplace set up to be flexible enough so that they do not lose great talent when they decide to start a family? For example my sister is a Physician’s Assistant in the very tough field of internal medicine. She recently gave birth to her fourth child and is still at the same practice she joined 14 years ago. Why has she chosen to stay working when she has not “had” to? Because not only does she love her job, but she is an excellent PA. Yet none of that would have mattered if her boss was not forward thinking and allowed her to create a flexible schedule that would work for her and the office. In fact his office was recently interviewed for the way they have set up and succeeded in providing excellence in patient care and research. So have you set up a workplace where hours can be flexible or positions can be shared? If not, how come?
Finally, research has shown that teams that are compromised of equal numbers of men and women are most successful. They communicate more since they have different interests and motivations. True teamwork means our team members are open to sharing ideas, helping one another, and offering and being receptive to feedback. Feedback is the lifeblood of productive
teamwork. These diverse teams also have significantly higher returns for stakeholders. When you review the skills of men and women we see the following:
Men tend to be:
- decisive - “I say let’s go for it, we’ll make it work.”
- bold - “I’ll be the go-to guy.”
- confident - “I want this assignment and will figure it out.”
- risk takers - “Just think of the payoff if we get it right!”
Women tend to:
- ask questions - “What do you think is best for us?”
- be risk aware - “Let’s be sure we weigh our alternatives, pick the best.”
- seek conversations - “I want to know you, who you are.”
- be inclusive - “Your opinion is important to me.”
What is really needed in our companies today is to provide the full array of leadership skills
and competencies to all our people - not just some! Look at successful companies such as Google, Facebook, Zappos, Chick fil A, Yahoo, and McKinsey & Company, as examples of business leadership that “get it”. Leadership is all about helping people do the right things well, helping others succeed. Women can be leaders, as men can be leaders - together they can offer
companies an even more successful and sustainable workplace!
Our personal experience, Amy as a graduate of Georgetown’s Masters in Executive
Leadership and John as a graduate of Georgetown’s Leadership Coaching program and now
in his work with the business school have found that women are ready and willing to take top leadership roles in companies, but are not always met with cultures and environments that enable them to do this.
Share leadership and expect improved financial results year after year!