By Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson
How Women Lead
For the first time in history, we have solid research proving that having women in leadership positions makes corporations more profitable, national economies healthier, and problem-solving increasingly effective.
Prestigious sources—including Harvard Business School, MIT, Credit Suisse Research Institute, to name a few—are creating a growing body of research-based data demonstrating the economic and operational impact that women leaders have when they hold senior leadership roles in organizations.
This knowledge opens up doors for women to move confidently into the business world.
Our purpose in writing How Women Lead was to give women the knowledge and tools they need to dream big dreams, and to build their lives based on their own terms, values, and passions.
It is a blueprint for women to become confident leading in a woman’s style and gain the critical business skills and credentials they need to become effective senior leaders in any-size organization.
How do women lead and why is women’s leadership style so successful?
Women’s leadership strengths are characteristic of what is known as a transformational style of leadership, a style that is inclusive and consultative, and generates employee commitment to the success of the organization.
- Women are values-based. Values play a critical role in all parts of women’s lives. Values are the lens through which they view decisions and determine the right actions to take, whether in business or in their personal lives. Highly successful women define their values and consistently live by them. This provides a consistency in their decision-making and encourages their colleagues to trust them.
- Women are holistic. Women go beyond the facts and numbers to take into account values, vision, and relationships. In their analyses, they look at issues from the perspectives of the broad range of constituencies, including the points-of-view of the company, the employees, and the clients. As a result, they are likely to identify opportunities, risks, and unaddressed issues that may not otherwise have been recognized.
- Women are inclusive and collaborative. Women create more diverse groups. They are both non-hierarchical and respectful of the individual. Therefore, they create a safe environment that encourages everyone, regardless of level or rank, to participate. They focus on synthesizing all ideas into a common solution that is stronger and more creative than the solution any one individual might have developed.
- Women invest time in consultation. Women take time to consult with those who will be affected by a decision and those who will implement the solution. This consultative process results in better decisions and buy-in, which can dramatically reduce the time it takes to implement a decision.
- Women create shared vision, values, and goals. Women place a high priority on defining values, vision, and goals for the business and communicating them to employees. They create an environment where achieving the company’s goals also contributes to employees achieving their personal aspirations and goals. This generates increased employee commitment to the organization’s goals, and enhanced motivation to go the extra mile to achieve company goals.
- Women generate trust from employees. Women understand that their employees have responsibilities outside the workplace and do not park their personal goals and responsibilities at the door when they come to work. They invest in getting to know their employees, understanding their goals, and helping them develop to their fullest potential. This results in a high level of employee trust and reinforces employee commitment to the success of the organization.
How did you identify the 8 Success Strategies?
We both have a research background, so it was important to us that the information in the book be solidly research-based. To identify the 8 Success Strategies, we combed through our 20-plus years of research on women’s leadership, added in the latest research from other researchers, and interviewed highly successful women expressly for this book.
From these diverse sources, a consistent set of eight strategies emerged. Time and again, women attribute their success to having mastered these strategies—and their advice to other women falls into the same eight categories.
The 8 Success Strategies are:
- 1. Lead Like a Woman
- 2. Own Your Destiny
- 3. Be the Architect of Your Career
- 4. Advocate Unabashedly for Yourself
- 5. Translate the Stories Numbers Tell to Drive Strategic Results
- 6. Create Exceptional Teams
- 7. Nurture Your Greatest Asset: You
- 8. Turn Possibilities Into Reality
What impact do you wish to have on the people who read the book?
We want to give women a strong belief in their innate management style by sharing with them the research that proves women’s leadership is profoundly successful. We believe that women can have greater control over their personal and professional lives if they understand what strategies work in the business world and know how to position themselves for success.
For men: We want the men who mentor and sponsor women to have the knowledge and tools to advise women wisely. We want the men who are in a position to select senior leadership to understand the impact women have on organizational success and to take action to increase the presence of women at the top levels of the business. Men can also benefit from the information in the book as they progress through their careers.
Most of all, we want women and men to recognize that the question is not about who leads better—women or men—but about how to successfully integrate the two styles to create profitable and successful organizations that are good places for both women and men to work.
About the Authors
Sharon Hadary is the former and founding executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research. She has been a leader in creating social change for women for over two decades. At the Center for Women’s Business Research, the premier nonprofit research institute devoted to studying women’s entrepreneurship, she harnessed the transformational impact of data and altered forever the landscape for women business owners in access to capital, markets, expertise, and networks.
When it comes to women’s entrepreneurial and corporate leadership, Hadary knows the people as well as the data. She has been a corporate executive, researcher, consultant, teacher, and entrepreneur.
Today, as principal of Sharon Hadary & Co, she is teaching, writing, speaking, and consulting nationally on the subject of women’s leadership.
Her article, “What’s Holding Back Women Entrepreneurs” was the lead story in The Wall Street Journal’s May 2010 Small Business Report. Her recent articles on women’s business leadership and decision-making styles have appeared in Enterprising Women Magazine, MBE Magazine, and 270inc, and she is widely quoted in the media on the subject.
Laura Henderson is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and author. She is known for her innovative management style, her role as an advocate for women in business, and her active participation in public policy on the national, state, and local levels.
At age 32, she left corporate America to found Prospect Associates, a highly respected health communications and biomedical research firm. She grew Prospect to over $20 million in revenues and nearly 200 employees. After learning that managing in the traditional male model was neither effective for her nor consistent with her leadership strengths, she began a lifelong involvement in advocating for women in business.
Recognized as a pioneer in developing and advocating for management styles based on women’s leadership styles, Henderson earned a reputation as a business innovator and business philosopher, fascinated by the endless opportunities for women’s business successes. The success of her strategies was reflected by Prospect being named by Inc. Magazine in 1993 as “One of the Best Small Companies to Work for in America.”
Learn more about their new book at www.HowSuccessfulWomenLead.com.