Monday, October 12, 2009

making room for female leaders

Despite better educated women with higher expectations hitting the workforce, it seems that there's been hardly any improvement in women getting to the boardroom. There is only one female CEO of a Top 100 companies in Ireland and the same in the UK. Whilst many women are doing it for themselves and are setting up small businesses,they just aren't getting air-time at the highest levels.
Inspirational leadership talent is in short supply as it is. CEOs speak of leadership rather than management these days and espouse values such as emotional intelligence, collaboration over compliance and respecting people's values. These 'softer' qualities are more prevalent in women, whose nurturing skills enable them to want to hear others' views before making decisions. But in downturns, decisive leadership is preferred. Its a common mistake to view 'take charge' and tough decision making leadership styles as the optimum way to get things done. The taking care versus taking charge thing is a polarised view when it comes to appraising female vs male ways of leading. And in reality, you need both. You can't earn the right to tell people what to do unless they respect you. But its bad news for women in a recession because boards rush to appoint the no-nonsense take -charge types in the mistaken notion that a soft approach doesn't get results, Sadly this isn't the case,but with fewer women at higher levels, who's going to tell the boys they got it wrong?

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