Rich and I delivered a well-received workshop at the third annual WILD Summit (Women Inspiring Leadership Development from the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business at CU). We framed as choice (the conference theme) the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results. We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and, therefore, gender diversity.
Workplace “Queen Bees” claim more affinity with men than women and distance themselves from other women. If the Queen Bee isn’t dead yet, I would like to accelerate her demise! Gender diversity in leadership is good for business. And women won’t reach the upper ranks of business in sufficient numbers to deliver the upsides without the full support of their own.
Joanne Lipman’s recent article in the WSJ provides a “guide” for men to women at work. She says that women get enough advice and provides some to men. Men should understand that women have a different way of speaking; they should not wait for women to raise their hands; they should not fear that a woman will cry and should give direct feedback. And they should recognize that women work hard for the credibility that comes automatically to them. Good advice!
WHY do diverse groups make better decisions? In working on a problem with people who look and think like you do, you tend to assume you know what others will say. So you may as well check your text messages! When someone different from the group arrives, you aren’t sure how they think or what they will say. So you pay attention. Diverse groups process information more carefully. A series of studies recently reviewed in The Scientific American confirm this.
Why do companies with women on their boards get better financial results and have higher stock prices? A recent New York Times opinion suggests it is because women make better decisions under stress. There are both masculine and feminine approaches to making decisions. When there is gender diversity in a group, it is more likely that there will be both kinds of decision process. It is the balance of these approaches to making decisions that explain better outcomes. Having women on boards enables this balance.
The 2014 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor joins a growing body of research that concludes that today’s leaders must have feminine as well as masculine leadership strengths. This study shows that women score higher on 10 of 14 key leadership attributes, including the top four. They are feminine strengths so, naturally, show up more in women than men. Key feminine strengths include communicating in an open way, admitting mistakes and bringing out the best in others. If you follow the work of DifferenceWORKS, you understand these strengths.