The Women’s March was a real eye opener for many people. The number of people, including the men and children who supported them, who participated around the world demonstrated the power of how women operate. Millions in 700 cities and towns worldwide showed up. In the Bay Area we had well attended Marches in San Francisco, Oakland and the usually benevolent Walnut Creek
Three things were clear:
- Women don’t go solo, they bring their gang along.
- Women don’t dictate, they persuade using logic and emotion.
- Women don’t run from adversity, they embrace it and use it to energize them and activate their “I’ll show them attitude”.
Do they sound like leadership qualities to you? They do to me.
Now, we’re not talking about a take-down or a take-over. We’re talking about how women can take their leadership qualities and help brands become stronger, help people develop faster, and help businesses operate more creatively.
According to a study IBM did with 1600 CEO’s, the three skills companies believe will move their business in the future are…drum roll…collaboration, communication, and creativity. These skills are the heart, gut, and mind of how women operate.
Great leaders have the ability to engage a team
Creating engagement requires leaders to inspire a shared vision, one that they believe in and can represent with their heart, gut, and mind. Defining their team’s roles and responsibilities has to be aligned with how to make that vision a reality. Then giving them a roadmap with how to execute, with the tools and resources they need to be successful, is the key that unlocks their passion to put the ball in the basket. Look at what the Warriors have achieved this season. Yes, there are some superstars on the team, but what is beautiful to watch is the teamwork they demonstrate on the court in every game. I think we can all agree that the women’s march showed the ability of women leaders to inspire a shared vision, and to capture the attention of the nation, if not the world!
Great leaders listen
When people think of communication, they focus on what is being said. Great communicators focus on what they hear. Communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about what is being said, it’s even more important to hear what’s not being said. The messages you get from body language, facial expressions, and the space between the lines. Women have a natural gift of intuition and instinct. They hear the nuances, the tone of voice, and the subtle changes in energy that gives them a competitive edge. This dates back to caveman times when the women had to take care of the kids and the village while the men were out hunting for food. Being able to read the landscape and protect them from harm was a critical role in their survival. Listening to your direct reports, customers, and suppliers will give you the insights you need to help your team be successful. Their success is your success. They depend on you for their survival, too.
Great leaders create
The status quo is just that…static. The world is dynamic and how you support your team often requires a new perspective, message, position, capability, or approach. The great news is that there is so much information available that provides the juice for how to position your solution, or try a different approach to penetrating the market, or implementing a unique technology that will help your team be even more successful and self-empowered. Often times it’s giving yourself time to think and explore new options. Scheduling thinking or playing time opens up your ability to be more creative. Jill Konrath’s new book, Sell More Less Time, has a whole section dedicated to how to be more productive by building in time to use a different part of your brain to solve a problem or create a new approach. The biggest pet peeve that I have is when people defend why they do what they do is because that’s how it has always been done. Try new strategies. Will they all work? No, they won’t. But some of them will and then you’ll pull away from the pack and lead the way to a whole new way of operating. Being creative is the most important gift you can give yourself and your team.
With women excelling in these leadership qualities, you’d expect to see plenty of women in leadership positions. 2016 did see the number of S&P 500 Companies with Women CEOs hit a record high (27 out of 500 or just over 5%), however I think we can all agree that women are vastly underrepresented in the C-Suite.
Take a look into your organization; see where these skills are lacking. Where could communication be improved? Where has the team become disengaged? Where has creativity stagnated? And finally – Which woman could rise to lead a team or a project in that area?
Developing as a Leader, learning to engage a team and to communicate effectively are skills that often require guidance and nurturing. With 30 years of experience I know I can give you actionable steps to improve your leadership today. Contact me to help take your skill set to the next level.
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