Thought Leadership on Talent and H.R. presented by Speed Raceway.
There is no doubt that men and women are different (we all know “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars”) and there is no question that women and men lead in different ways.
According to the Pew Research Center survey (November 2014), women and men are considered fairly equal in their overall capabilities of being good business leaders; however, there are specific traits in which one gender tends to be more proficient than the other. The Pew Research Center survey seems to be in agreement with most other reports on genders and leadership, finding that women tend to rank higher in honesty and being more ethical than their male counterparts; and also are more likely to ensure fair pay and good benefits for their staff and provide better guidance or mentorship to young employees. On the other hand, men are perceived to be more decisive and more willing to take risks. This doesn’t mean women are better business leaders than men or vice versa. It just means that they are different.
In July, SmartCEO will be honoring 40 female leaders who have an intense entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for giving back to the community with the 2016 Brava Awards. These female CEOs understand what it takes to drive growth within their companies and inspire others to succeed. I had the chance to ask three past SmartCEO Brava Awards winners about the leadership skills they think are essential for women CEOs and executives, how these skills lead to better employee and client relationships, and also how these skills motivate the people around them.
Courtney Seda McDonnell (2014 Brava Award Winner), Owner and Managing Partner of the Law Offices of McDonnell & Associates:
“There have been recent articles about the need for the “No Executive” to bring practical realism to the creative visionaries in the workplace. The ability to counterbalance the creative visionaries with the reality check is an essential management skill necessary for successful leadership. The best ideas have no real business value unless there is a practical plan to execute them within the confines of a realistic budget. Even though women appear to be naturally more focused than some of their male counterparts on practical execution, women CEOs cannot be viewed solely as the person always saying ‘no.’ They must inspire the visionaries on their team to produce good ideas while creating a well-planned strategy to complete that vision.”
“During trial preparation, I encourage our creative trial lawyers to narrow down their more complex and esoteric arguments and focus on a simple explanation of the case. For example, teaching ordinary jurors difficult medical concepts through expert witnesses can be an overly ambitious goal. Listening to a medical lecture in the middle of a trial can strain jurors’ limited attention span and interest in the subject matter. While the visionaries are thinking broadly about all the medical evidence they can present to the jury, I try and make them focus on the simple story about the injuries in the case.”
Betty Long (2015 Brava Award Winner), Founder and CEO of Guardian Nurses:
“My mom taught me a LONG time ago that if I wanted to be successful at anything, I would have to work hard and not be deterred. She worked as a waitress and then, after having six children, got a job as an evening shift typist. She knew it was a ‘man’s world,’ but she stressed to me that I could do anything I set my mind to do – so I want to thank my mom for teaching me to work hard!”
In addition to working hard, Betty considers: “integrity, honesty, clarity (in vision and in communication), giving and getting respect, a sense of humor, generosity (in spirit and in benefits), and honoring your commitments” as key leadership skills for women CEOs and executives.
“Every day, our nurses work with patients who are sometimes struggling with the healthcare bureaucracy. By observing my interactions with staff and with our clients and vendors, they see for themselves that we always want to maintain an individual’s dignity and interact with them professionally and respectfully. We are healthcare professionals, so we need to ‘walk the walk’ and display a genuine sense of caring for everyone, not just our patients.”