| See Jane Lead |
By Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
Genre: Business & Money
(The buy button will take you to the standard print edition of this book at Amazon.com. From there you will be able to see if the book is also available in large print or audio.)
The Feminization of Leadership
The day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.
—Susan B. Anthony
People often ask me how I choose the subject matter for my books. I tell them it always comes from having such a burning desire to share something with others that if I didn’t, I would feel my life’s mission was not complete. That’s precisely why I wrote this book. I believe we live in a time when women’s leadership and influence aren’t just needed—they’re required. More important, I know that women have the capability, strength, courage, and heart to lead communities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots groups to places they need to go. They’ve done it for centuries. You may not think you have much in common with Avon’s president Andrea Jung or former director of the Red Cross Elizabeth Dole, but this book will help you to see that you do—and that if ever there was a time your leadership was needed, the time is now.
You also may not aspire to be a CEO, vice president, or director of an organization, but chances are you find yourself in a position where you want to influence others. That’s leadership. You may be responsible for a small committee of the PTA. That’s leadership. Or you might have ideas that contribute to creating change in an organization of which you are a member. That’s leadership, too. Women lead all the time—they just don’t call it leadership. They think of it as working toward a common goal, achieving results through people, or simply doing what needs to be done. In fact, that’s what leadership is all about.
A woman’s way of leading hasn’t always been valued, but there’s a change occurring in society that people are hesitant to talk about. It’s what I call the feminization of leadership. To discuss it openly would mean challenging how we have traditionally looked at leadership—and followership. It would also require embracing a concept that many people find threatening: Command-and-control, top-down leadership no longer works. When someone in authority says “jump,” employees, children, and volunteers no longer reply “how high?” The truth is, what followers expect from leaders in the first decade of the twenty-first century—and perhaps beyond—are the behaviors and characteristics that women have traditionally been socialized to exhibit. Throughout history, with little or no formal authority, women have influenced direction, change, and outcomes—they were simply never so bold as to call it leadership!
It doesn’t mean that men can’t or don’t display these qualities, but rather that women tend to do so with greater ease, confidence, and comfort—so long as it’s not called the L-word, leadership. The changing face of leadership is threatening to men because it requires thinking about the subject in a way that is counter to their own socialization and, in some cases, education. Similarly, women may feel threatened because it asks them to assume responsibility in ways they may never have before and to call attention to skills they have been admonished to hide.
“Nice girls” have a particularly difficult time assuming leadership roles and doing it effectively. When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which, as you know, is impossible), delay decision making by trying to get everyone’s buy-in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility. Ironically, each of these behaviors could work to the advantage of women—if only they would balance them with new behaviors that contribute to more effective leadership. In other words, stepping fully away from the nice-girl messages learned in childhood, and into adulthood, is all it would take for a woman to be a phenomenal leader for this age. Of course, that’s one giant step.
Society has done both men and women a disservice by placing the onus of leadership responsibility squarely on the shoulders of men. It makes men reluctant to admit when they feel incapable of or ineffectual at leadership and women reluctant to openly suggest that they might be able to do a better job of it. Nonetheless, we are at a turning point where both genders will have to become more comfortable with assuming roles they have traditionally rejected. This turning point is caused by evolving worker attitudes and values that women are best suited to address. Just as women have, in the past, had to learn from men how to manage using styles that did not come naturally to them, men will now have to learn from women the ways of bringing out the best in today’s workforce.
Despite the fact that American productivity continues to decline, most major corporations continue to be led almost exclusively by white males. A recent study conducted by Catalyst, this country’s premier women’s research group, reports that although women make up 46.4 percent of the labor force, only seven Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women constitute only 5.2 percent of the top earners and hold only 7.9 percent of the highest titles in these companies.
Sources: Current Population Survey, Annual Averages 2004 Catalyst, 2003 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors Catalyst, 2002 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Offi cers and Top Earners
Turning to politics, as of January 2006 only 15 percent of all elected representatives to the US Congress were women. Of those women, 24 percent are women of color, but they all serve in the House of Representatives with no women of color serving in the Senate. This is fairly consistent with the average of 16 percent of women holding seats in parliaments around the world. Out of 180 countries, only 11 have women heads of state. What’s missing at the top is not just a female perspective, but a broad diversity of opinions and skills.
Paradoxically, when those who possess power and control are threatened by circumstance, they are inclined to hold even tighter to their authority. When status quo is thus maintained, organizations and societies lose. With diversity, however, comes the promise of positive change, as shown by another Catalyst study. This one that found companies with the most women in senior management positions had a 35 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher total return to shareholders. Similarly, the law firm Dickstein Shapiro reports that in 1994 when it had 63 women attorneys out of 213, profit per partner was $364,000 annually. In 2004, when the number of women had grown to 122 out of 363 attorneys, the per-partner profit had increased to $815,000. Linda Kornfeld and Robin Cohen, attorneys with Dickstein Shapiro, say they believe women leaders are making great contributions for the following reasons:
• Women executives are more likely to consult with others—experts, employees, and fellow business owners—when developing strategies.
• Women executives have a greater natural tendency to deal comfortably with multitasking.
• Women executives have fewer competitive tendencies and often seek a more collaborative approach.
• Women executives tend to focus on the big picture when making important business decisions or developing strategies.
• Women executives stress relationship building as well as fact gathering.
• Women executives are more likely to talk through business approaches and incorporate the ideas of others before making final decisions.
These and other factors combine to make me conclude that women have not only the ability to become great leaders for our time but also the responsibility to do so. Just as women are entrusted with the primary responsibility for bearing and raising the next generation, they have a similar responsibility to ensure that the systems and institutions upon which the next generation will rely are strong and healthy. Women must cease colluding with those who either subconsciously or systematically deny them inclusion. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” When you allow others to do this, you collude with them to remain in an inferior position. Instead, women must come to understand how to maximize the use of their natural gifts within a system that tries to deny the value and necessity of these gifts. A formidable task, but none too difficult for a group that for centuries has relied on its wits and inner strength to triumph over discrimination and oppression.
WHY NICE GIRLS DON’T LEAD
Most workshops that I conduct include a module on collaborative problem solving. It’s videotaped and played back so that participants can see themselves as others see them. The instructions, given in advance, ask participants to wait until the camera is on before they begin work on the problem. With only two exceptions in nearly twenty years, after the camera begins recording, the first person to speak has been a man. Regardless of seniority or expertise, women are reticent to take the lead. The reasons for this are as different as women themselves. When they do exhibit leader behaviors (particularly when they do so before being asked), they face a wide array of subtle and not-so-subtle reactions—from both men and women. Included among the reactions with which they are forced to contend:
• Being called names (usually behind their backs) that assault their femininity.
• Anger that is expressed blatantly or passive-aggressively.
• Having their ideas openly challenged, rather than built on.
• Having their ideas overlooked only to be repeated as original by men in the group.
• Being excluded from future meetings.
• Having information that enables them to make good judgments withheld.
• Challenges to their “right” to lead (i.e., “Who does she think she is?”).
• Later being given more menial assignments that are designed to keep them in their place.
• Being placated.
• Being openly derided.
In the face of such negative reactions, it’s no wonder that women are reluctant to lead! This is what makes it so important for women to consciously view these reactions as natural responses to a system trying to maintain status quo, and not to collude with them.
In the 1977 classic Games Mother Never Taught You: Corporate Gamesmanship for Women, Betty Lehan Harragan used masculine metaphors and definitions to help women better understand how to win the game of business. Although groundbreaking at the time, the book set the stage for women to assume that they inherently lacked knowledge or skills to compete on the corporate playing field. Subsequent books followed suit, and soon the very essence of the woman leader was lost in assertiveness training, tailored suits (with little bow ties for a time), and sports jargon. As a result, women chose to hide their natural abilities and instead attempted to emulate the higher-valued behaviors associated with the masculine style of leadership.
I was honored when Dr. Judy Rosener, professor emerita of the University of California–Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, graciously agreed to speak with me about this. In 1990, Dr. Rosener wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review titled “Ways Women Lead.” Although she’s written many books and articles since, this piece represents the seminal thoughts on the topic of women and leadership. She was ahead of the curve then, and she still is. That article was the first to suggest that women possess a different style of leadership from men—but one that’s equally effective. She shifted the thinking for many of us from I have to be more like a man to succeed as a leader to The skills I bring to the workplace, whether developed by nature or nurture, have intrinsic value. Judy wrote, “Women’s success shows that a nontraditional leadership style is well-suited to the conditions of some work environments and can increase an organization’s chances of surviving in an uncertain world.”
When I had the chance to interview her sixteen years after the article’s publication, I was anxious to get her thoughts about how things have changed in the intervening years. Here’s what she shared with me:
The biggest difference today is that women no longer believe that to be a leader is to be a male. My article provided some “aha” moments for women, so that they now believe that in a fast-changing, highly technological, globalized environment there are certain attributes that are particularly effective that they happen to exhibit. Women are far more comfortable doing what they do naturally and less comfortable with being trained to be like men. That’s why women are leaving corporations and starting their own businesses. Flexibility, collaboration, and multitasking are things women do well because of either socialization or nature. Women today have moved from a “fitting-in” model (to succeed they have to fit in) to an “organizational fit” model, which means I’m going to join an organization where what I do is valued and rewarded. It may be subconscious, but the women I talk to constantly are transitioning. They don’t want to change to be successful. Women have to know and understand the environment in which they work but not think that their leadership skills present a problem, because they’re not the problem.
I agree wholeheartedly. In the past, women who did not want to sublimate their natural abilities were left with three options: (1) remain silent and in nonleadership positions; (2) leave corporate America to start their own businesses; or (3) leave business entirely—to parent, retire, teach, what have you. Although businesses are slowly (and somewhat reluctantly) beginning to embrace this notion of a different but equal leadership style, the result continues to be a migration of women leaders away from business at the very time when their skills are required to better understand how to improve productivity and morale. Option 2, starting their own businesses, is increasingly being exercised, with the number of women-owned companies growing at twice the rate of all businesses between 1997 and 2002. They contribute more than $2.8 trillion in revenues to the US economy and employ in excess of 9.2 million people.
Women can, and must, combine their socialization and natural instincts to provide the kind of leadership necessary to unleash a wider array of individual and team gifts than are present in today’s workplace. It’s simply a matter of harnessing their talents, reframing them in a way that they can be better showcased, and augmenting them with complementary behaviors to provide a well-rounded (and much-needed) approach to the business of leadership.
WHY WOMEN AND WHY NOW?
Leaders can be successful only insofar as they accurately and adequately respond to the immediate needs of their followers. In other words, you must be a leader for your time. It has been suggested that generals George S. Patton and Norman Schwarzkopf could not have been interchanged. The needs of the troops dramatically shifted during the forty-year interim between World War II and the Gulf War. Whereas Patton’s command-and-control style would most likely have been received with resistance by Gulf War troops, Schwarzkopf’s tendency to listen carefully to the suggestions and needs of others before making decisions might have been perceived as indecisive or soft by World War II soldiers.
On the business front, and technology aside, it is highly doubtful that in this day and age Tom Watson Sr. could successfully build the giant we know as IBM, or that Henry Ford could pioneer automobile manufacturing. Achieving their respective visions was possible only because they understood the needs of their followers at the time. Watson’s full-employment policy was designed to appeal to the insecurities of workers during the Depression. He knew that allowing everyone to work (albeit on reduced schedules) rather than laying people off would secure their loyalty during more prosperous times. Henry Ford’s automation of the manufacturing process provided a kind of financial stability within a hierarchical framework that workers of his day craved. Both men accurately read the employment climate and used it to their advantage. Similarly, I seriously doubt that Ronald Reagan could have been elected in place of FDR, or that Mary Kay Ash could have successfully started and marketed her product at the turn of the twentieth century. Both these leaders were successful in their quests only because they understood the social climate and needs of their followers at the time.
The same holds true in society today. Bringing out the best in people is a far different game than it was even ten years ago. The reasons for this shift in worker expectations are varied and complex. They include the effects of a decade of downsizing, technological advances, shifts in workforce demographics, changes in societal patterns such as increased numbers of divorces and single-parent families, and globalization. Combined, they create a scenario in which reliance on the traditional paradigms of command and control, management over leadership, and position power no longer work.
The Demise of Command-and-Control Leadership
The days of command-and-control leadership are long gone. This style was characterized by blind adherence to strict rules, a rigidly defined and top-down hierarchical chain of command, and an emphasis on winning at any cost. Workers would respond to management demands or directives simply because they believed that the people (usually men) in authority deserved to be respected. It was born out of a masculine military model that assumed that those who possessed no formal authority had no real purpose other than to carry out the directives of management.
Although command-and-control leadership was the preferred style for the better part of the last century, it has for the most part outlived its usefulness. Even in paramilitary organizations such as fire departments, police forces, and other emergency operations, command-and-control management is of limited use. The primary way in which it continues to be valuable is during times of extreme emergency. When it works, it provides a model by which everyone can operate with maximum efficiency. When it doesn’t, however, you wind up with a situation similar to what we witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: confusion, lack of real leadership, an unclear chain of command, and finger pointing rather than problem solving. And when it does work, it works only for the moment. Command-and-control leadership does nothing to improve morale or productivity during nonemergency situations, which is an important issue that paramilitary organizations are being forced to examine more carefully when considering how to motivate their increasingly diverse workforces. The command-and-control model worked up until now for a number of reasons:
• The workforce, primarily white male, understood and respected the hierarchy.
• Manufacturing, the country’s economic engine, lent itself to using the model.
• Years of war and the threat of war enabled men and women alike to easily comprehend the bounds of command and control.
• A relatively uneducated workforce allowed itself to be governed by the belief that those in authority knew best.
• Women and people of color were hesitant to challenge the model for fear of losing hard-won gains.
In this day of highly skilled and educated workers in which information technology, telecommuting, and flat organizations abound, command and control simply doesn’t work. People don’t want to be told what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. Not only do they not want it, they won’t allow it. Managers who continue to rely on the style (and there are many more of those around than you might expect) are met with subversive compliance: people doing exactly as they are told and finding nonverbal ways to sabotage the process. Consider the following examples:
• Jim, the manager of accounting, tells Jan, an accounting clerk, to prepare a report in a particular way. Jan tries to tell Jim that doing it this way doesn’t take into consideration several key factors, but Jim’s command-and-control style precludes him from listening. Jan dutifully prepares the report as she was told. When Jim makes a presentation to management, Jan knows full well that Jim won’t be able to answer certain questions without the additional data that she suggested. Instead of discussing it again with Jim, Jan thinks, If this is what you want, this is what you get, and allows Jim to be ill-prepared and embarrassed in front of his management.
• Trey is a new PC salesperson at a local electronics store. During his training period, he politely suggests adding several services to ensure customer satisfaction that go beyond what the store currently provides. Kristen, his command-and-control manager, instructs him in no uncertain terms to do it her way or face possibly failing the store’s probationary period. Several weeks later, when a customer asks for services that he had suggested but Kristen rejected, Trey refers him to a competitor he knows who does provide those services.
• Barbara is the manager of administration for a prestigious law firm. She has repeatedly tried to influence Bill, the firm’s managing partner, to revise outdated policies related to compensation and benefits for the administrative staff. Command-and-control Bill refuses to budge, believing that working for the firm is privilege enough. When staff members apply for positions outside the firm, Barbara willingly gives glowing recommendations so that they can move on to more lucrative assignments, while the firm loses valuable talent.
As you can see, subversive compliance caused by outmoded command-and-control leadership approaches can cost organizations unnecessary expense in terms of turnover, mistakes, loss of customers or clients, and reduced productivity. The ways in which women have traditionally approached work and leadership provide a fresh new model from which managers of both sexes could learn and profit.
Management versus Leadership
The demise of command-and-control leadership has illuminated the differences between management and leadership. Of late, much has been written on the topic, but the difference is best summarized by a simple phrase: You manage functions and lead people. For example, you manage budgets, hiring processes, quantifiable outcomes, or information systems, but you can’t manage people. The command-and-control style was an attempt to manage people, but as I’ve pointed out, it ultimately proved ineffective as workplace attitudes changed. People don’t want to be managed—they want to be led, and they want to be led by caring, humane leaders. In this regard, management is more closely aligned with masculine leadership traits, whereas leadership is more in tune with a woman’s strengths.
I believe women are ideally suited to do both—manage and lead. Why? Look at it this way: If you’re able to schedule your hair appointment to coincide with picking up the family’s dry cleaning but before you have to take the dog to the kennel so that you can leave on a business trip, then managing a schedule, budget, or project is no sweat. On the other hand, when you’re responsible for getting the entire family on board with taking a trip to see your in-laws the same weekend that everyone wanted to watch the Super Bowl, then leading a reluctant staff in an organizational change effort becomes a breeze. From running households to PTA meetings and church fund-raisers, it’s likely you’ve honed the skills needed to lead and manage.
The importance of differentiating leadership from management was brought home during an association conference presentation that I made several years ago. This was a group of people involved in various aspects of the hospitality industry—conference planners, travel agents, representatives of hotels, and so on. After one man disagreed with how I differentiated leadership and management, a woman who led the staff of housekeepers at a well-known hotel chain took issue with him. She agreed wholeheartedly that you can’t manage people, and added that if anyone ever doubts it, just try to manage people whose sole function is to clean hotel rooms. There is nothing more straightforward or easier to measure than how the rooms are cleaned, but getting people to do it well is another story. Success in this field, she insisted, depends on leadership, not management.
Whether it’s housekeepers, zookeepers, or barkeepers—you simply can’t manage people. Trying to do so is a bit like teaching a pig to sing: You frustrate yourself and annoy the pig. The ways in which women, without formal control, authority, or title, have gained the support of followers by exhibiting leadership qualities, not management skills, hold the key to successful leadership in the new millennium.
A New Definition of Power and Leadership
During a presentation I was making to a group of health care providers on the topic of motivating today’s workforce, I commented that the new generation of employees no longer “salutes” those in authority. A ripple of agreement in the form of heads vehemently nodding and polite laughter came from the back of the auditorium, where I could see a row of middle-aged men and women in uniform. I decided to enlist them in underscoring my contention. Pointing to the back row, I said, “It seems to me as if you would be in a good position to talk to us about employees saluting.” These participants from the military willingly and poignantly described the shift that has taken place over the past two decades: Personnel no longer do as they are told simply because someone in a position of power tells them to. They also explained that this has caused difficulties with some longer-term senior staff who could not adjust to new and more appropriate styles of leadership.
In the workplace—and not only the military workplace—leaders have traditionally relied on what’s called position power. This is the power and authority that typically accompanied titles such as supervisor, manager, director, and vice president, or sergeant, lieutenant, and general. Leaders relied on position power because inherent to it was the threat of punishment if their directives were not followed. “My way or the highway” typified reliance on this form of power. But new-generation workers no longer respect position power. They have seen political leaders with position power publicly debased because of personal peccadilloes, watched as those with position power unceremoniously terminated their company-loyal parents, and experienced firsthand a decline in respect for position power in the family. Position power doesn’t motivate or faze them.
Since women have not been the primary beneficiaries of position power, they have not learned to rely on it. In fact, women are uncomfortable with even using the word power in relation to themselves. My interest in women and power was piqued in the late 1980s when I had a private psychotherapy practice working with career women. I would often comment to clients who held senior-level corporate positions that it seemed incongruent that one so powerful would allow herself to be treated in this way or that. The response was always some form of Me? Powerful? I’m not powerful. In my audiotape Women and Power: Understanding Your Fear/Releasing Your Potential, I explain the reasons for this:
• Social messages learned early in childhood imply that power diminishes femininity.
• Because men have traditionally wielded the power, for a woman to think of herself as powerful means that she must take power away from important male figures in her life—father, brother, grandfather, teachers, or the like.
• Powerful women are often singled out and labeled with any number of pejoratives.
• Until recently, there has been a paucity of powerful female role models.
Since noticing the response of the women in my practice, I have begun each presentation that I make related to power in the workplace by singling out a woman and saying, “You look pretty powerful to me.” With few exceptions, the woman shifts uncomfortably in her seat and mumbles something in denial. Next, I turn to a man in the audience and make the same comment. With even fewer exceptions, the response from the man is a comment or body language that in some way affirms my observation. The ensuing discussion of power and what it means clarifies the distinctions between male and female definitions of power. Whereas men often define being powerful as getting someone else to do what they want or having control over others, women tend to define it as getting to do what they want or having control over themselves.
It certainly isn’t that women are not powerful, because they are. It’s that women wield power differently from men and in a way that better meets the expectations of contemporary followers. By necessity, they have had to rely on an assortment of techniques to meet their needs and the needs of those who depend on them, which is why women possess a wider array of influence skills and exhibit less concern for position power or command-and-control leadership. Women’s power is often derived from gaining allegiance and loyalty by understanding and addressing the needs of others. Women not only are socialized to do this better but in fact have had years of practice at it.
Similarly, a common theme ran through the interviews I conducted for this book. Nearly every woman, when asked what constitutes her leadership philosophy, included some mention of values-based leadership. Values formed the core of how women went about enacting everyday leadership behaviors. From developing a vision to creating a high-performing team and taking risks, women returned time and again to their values to determine the “rightness” of their direction. This reveals yet one more way in which the uniqueness of a woman’s perspective forges a leadership model that is so critical for our time.
WHAT FOLLOWERS REALLY WANT FROM LEADERS
There is no shortage of books that describe the necessary qualities of successful leaders. From gurus like Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, John Kotter, and Max De Pree, we consistently hear that successful leadership includes the ability to:
• Create a vision, align people behind it, and develop a plan for executing it.
• Communicate in a way that inspires trust and confidence.
• Motivate followers to sustain the effort required to meet organizational goals.
• Build teams that understand and value interdependence and synergy.
• Exhibit emotional intelligence.
• Take risks that will benefit the organization.
• Develop a strong network that will support goal attainment and professional success.
A close look at the list reveals that these behaviors are identical to the ones women routinely exhibit given their own socialization as nurturers, accommodators, and caretakers. It is precisely these factors that lead me to claim leadership is a woman’s art. Women’s survival has always depended on exhibiting the very behaviors desperately needed in society today. At the same time, most of the behaviors on the list have also been pejoratively referred to as “soft skills.” Having nothing to do with command and control, they have traditionally been relegated to lower levels of importance and not perceived by many leaders to be critical success factors.
Whether it’s bolstering the flagging confidence of a follower, teaching groups of people how to become teams, or simply building the kinds of relationships that mutually support both leader and follower, women eminently fit the bill. In tribal villages, families, PTAs, hospitals, schools—anyplace where taking care of the most basic, but often overlooked, needs of people is important—women are at the center of the activity. Whether by nature or nurture, women’s focus has always been on ensuring the well-being of others, while concurrently being required to meet the goals inherent to their roles in the village, family, or workplace. The ability of women to understand the needs of their followers and create a means for moving organizations forward by attending to these needs cannot be underestimated. Further, women are not hampered by old paradigms that merely perpetuate the status quo. As relative newcomers to the boardroom, we possess precisely what is needed to shift from the tried, but no longer true, ways of doing things to fresh new approaches toward meeting business objectives.
One way in which I attempt to make the key concepts of leadership come alive for participants in my leadership workshops is to have them identify leaders from their own lives who brought out the best in them. I ask them to name the people who made a significant difference in their lives—teachers, parents, coaches, clergy, spouses, bosses, and friends—and then tell the group what made this person so effective. Regardless of the geographic location, the size of the organization, or the nature of the work performed by the participants, their lists nearly always include these same behaviors:
• Treated me as a human being, not just an employee.
• Believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
• Trusted me.
• Was interested in my well-being—not just what was best for the company.
• Went to bat for me.
• Kept his or her word.
• Stretched me by setting high expectations and giving me the tools to achieve them.
• Asked for my opinion—and listened to the answer.
• Set a good example.
• Was honest—would admit when he or she was wrong.
• Kept me well-informed.
• Didn’t punish me for making mistakes, but gave me helpful feedback—both positive and negative.
• Showed enthusiasm for his or her work.
• Was firm but fair.
People report that when these characteristics are present, they exhibit uncommon commitment to the leader. Again, it’s not about any particular technique or unusual skill, but rather about how people are treated by a leader and the degree to which the leader interacts with them first and foremost as human beings. Most of the items on the list are behaviors in which women engage naturally. Openly sharing information, encouraging, trusting, and so forth are all key components of the partnership style of power and interactive leadership style.
As difficult as it is for many women to acknowledge, leadership is not currently, and has never been, the exclusive domain of men. The ways women lead are different but no less valuable—as women have been led to believe. In an effort to maintain control and dominance, those who have traditionally held power have minimized our contributions; in turn, women have minimized their potential as leaders. Returning to the concept that you must be a leader for your time, I reiterate that the time is now for women leaders. If ever there was a need to bring out the best in people, create interdependent work groups, and inspire people to overcome the mediocrity that plagues products and services, that time is now—and women hold the key for doing it successfully, compassionately, and capably.
WOMEN AND LEADERSHIP SELF-ASSESSMENT
An essential ingredient of leadership success is the capacity to assess your own strengths and areas that need development—and make changes to your course when called for. Doing this allows you to model the way for your followers to do the same. Women are particularly good at this—it’s why they read “Dear Abby,” listen to Dr. Laura, and buy the majority of self-help books on the market! Here’s an opportunity to identify your leadership strengths and opportunities for growth. Completing the following inventory will also provide you with a road map for making good use of this book.
Answer each of the following questions using the scale provided. Don’t overthink your answers—go with your first instinct. Be as honest as possible. Don’t indicate what you think you should do; note what you actually do. If you aren’t currently in a leadership position, think of situations in which you may have been called on or had the opportunity to exhibit the behavior described and what you did in those situations. Most important, be candid. It will do you no good to try to look good. Similarly, don’t be overly critical of yourself. In either case, you’ll only be fooling yourself.
4 = Is characteristic of me nearly all the time
3 = Is usually characteristic of me
2 = Is sometimes characteristic of me
1 = Is rarely characteristic of me
1. I have a clear vision for where I want to take the people, organizations, or activities I lead.
2. I know how to assess a calculated risk.
3. I seek opportunities to speak before groups.
4. I identify and make good use of the individual talents that surround me.
5. I constantly communicate the need for seamless teamwork.
6. I can tell you my strengths and the areas that need development.
7. Being successful at what I do for a living is critically important to me.
8. My values play an important role in the vision and strategies I create.
9. I take risks in which others may not initially see the benefit.
10. My opinions are sought after by others.
11. My enthusiasm is contagious.
12. I identify collaborative opportunities for team members.
13. I’m comfortable in social situations.
14. I have unusually high energy and stamina levels.
15. I consciously choose to manage projects but lead people.
16. I don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.
17. I am among the first few people to speak in meetings when leaders ask for opinions or ideas.
18. I am able to help people see the benefits of doing things they may initially resist.
19. I plan team meetings in advance so as to make good use of team members’ time.
20. I am able to read and respond appropriately to the nonverbal messages of others.
21. I exude self-confidence.
22. I take abstract ideas and turn them into tangible plans for the future.
23. I seek input from others before taking risks but don’t over-rely on their opinions.
24. My communication style commands the attention of a group.
25. I regularly give people both positive and negative feedback.
26. I consciously align people behind the team’s vision, mission, and goals.
27. I exhibit an upbeat and positive attitude even during difficult times.
28. I thrive on innovation.
29. I analyze data and situations before jumping in to take action.
30. I say things others may think but won’t risk saying.
31. I provide data, facts, and figures to support my suggestions.
32. I believe most people strive for excellent performance.
33. I ensure that team roles and responsibilities are clear to all team members.
34. I monitor my moods and behaviors.
35. I am doggedly persistent.
36. I question tried-and-true ways of thinking and doing things.
37. I would rather err on the side of taking a risk than playing it safe.
38. I give my opinion in clear, certain terms.
39. I stretch myself and others to achieve things they never thought possible.
40. I coordinate team efforts, identify obstacles, and clear the way for team success.
41. I understand and am good at maneuvering through organizational politics.
42. I enjoy making independent decisions.
43. I work with followers to clearly articulate the overarching goal and steps needed to achieve it.
44. I trust my gut instincts and don’t always need facts and figures to back them up.
45. I affirm commonalities among ideas.
46. I believe in the paradox of control: The more I have, the more I give away.
47. I hold people accountable and reward them for achieving team goals as well as their own.
48. People seem to naturally gravitate toward me.
49. I bounce back quickly from setbacks or unanticipated obstacles.
Transfer your answers for each question to the corresponding box on the following score sheet. Add your scores down each column, then add each of those scores across for a survey total. Unlike other surveys, I’m not going to tell you what represents a “good” or “bad” score. A “perfect” score would total 28 in each column, for an overall total of 196. If your score is less than perfect (and believe me, I know no one who is perfect), then you’ve got some areas to work on. Go back and closely examine the category in which you have your lowest score. This is the area that will require your immediate attention. Where is your highest score? This is the area of leadership that represents your greatest strength.
Strategic versus Tactical
1 8 15 22 29 36 43 Total
Subsequent chapters correlate with each of the categories on the score sheet. I suggest you first go to the chapter that corresponds with your lowest score and work on the behaviors and coaching suggestions there. Then you can go back and read the other chapters in order of developmental need. Remember, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a few tips from the suggestions provided in every chapter.
Excerpted from See Jane Lead , by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. . Copyright (c) 2007 by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. . Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.Back to top