By Gale Mote / Guest Column
As we celebrate the CBJ’s 2018 Women of Influence honorees, I have taken some time to reflect on what makes an effective leader and, specifically, how women are making a positive difference in their homes, organizations and communities.
Leaders create a clear, shared vision; gain followership with their authenticity and character; develop self and others to accomplish extraordinary things together; and challenge the status quo.
One of the greatest workplace challenges today is attracting and retaining the very best talent. There are more job opportunities than qualified people to fill them. Once you hire a person, leaders must create a work environment that meets and exceeds the needs of those choosing to partner with them.
In his 2017 State of the American Workplace Report, Jim Clifton, president and CEO of the Gallup Corporation, said, “Call an executive committee meeting and commit to transforming your workplace from old command-and-control to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations. Switch from a culture of ‘paycheck’ to a culture of ‘purpose.’ Transition from performance management to performance development.”
When you think about the behaviors, skills and attitudes required to meet Mr. Clifton’s challenge, women rise. While each woman is her own unique personality with different strengths and weaknesses, she excels in several of the core competencies and emotional intelligence skills necessary for leading today’s workforce. Those include empathy, building trust, connecting with compassion and caring, valuing teamwork and collaboration.
Relationships are based on trust. Trust demands that we connect as real people, extending ourselves to one another – being open and vulnerable. While women are good at building a network, it would be helpful for them to learn how to better leverage their relationships to help them accomplish their goals. Some are fearful of being viewed as manipulative or self-centered. Being open and transparent is key. Asking for help and sharing the bigger picture will help.
Coaching is the missing link in most organizations – the ability to meet people where they are and help them grow to become the best they can be and where they desire to go. Most managers believe they are coaching, but they are not. Instead, they are giving advice and solving problems.
Women have the ability to read nonverbal cues and pay attention to the subtle voice tones and pauses that tell the story behind the words. The ability to listen, focus and ask relevant, timely questions helps the coachee to better understand himself and the situation. The goal is for the employee to come up with his own solutions so there is more commitment to make change happen.
Innovation and creativity are not the same thing. Creativity is coming up with ideas while innovation is solving problems using ideas to make things better. Overcoming bias and creating a safe environment for diverse ideas to be heard, considered and understood is paramount.
Women have the ability to bring people together, to find common ground – to look for what’s right with what’s different. Ensuring that every voice is heard, considered and understood is a priority. Teams make better and faster decisions but only if they are able to tap into the expertise, experience and talents of everyone in the group.
Amy Hillman, dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University writes, “The nature of today’s work is much more conducive to women’s style of leadership. People are looking for empathic leaders. There is a need for employee engagement, empowerment and consensus building.”
I am proud of our 2018 honorees as I am of all the women in the Corridor who bring the best of themselves to inspire greatness in others and make a positive difference.
Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.