Following is an excerpt from "WOMEN LEAD - Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders",Edited by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Courtney L. Vien, and Caroline Molina-Ray
How Women Are Making Companies More Profitable, Innovative, and Equitable
Women leaders are coming into their own. In just the past several years, we’ve seen:
- women become the CEOs of companies that are household names, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo, Kraft, DuPont, WellPoint, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Campbell’s Soup, KeyCorp, Neiman Marcus, Williams-Sonoma, newspaper group Gannett, and TJX (parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s)
- a woman become the first African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Ursula Burns of Xerox) and other African American women run such companies as BET Holdings, Johnson Publishing, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, IMAN Cosmetics, the Oprah Winfrey Network, Intelli PharmaCeuticals, and ACT•1 Personnel Services
- the first female head of a major oil company (Lynn Elsenhans of Sunoco)
- women lead such Fortune 1000 energy, scientific, technological, and manufacturing firms as Archer Daniels Midland, Sempra Energy, Puget Sound Energy, International Game Technology, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Schnitzer Steel Industries, and electric company PNM Resources
- two women run for president and one be nominated for vice president, 15 states elect female governors, 11 women hold cabinet positions (including two secretaries of state), and two women be named Supreme Court judges. In 2010, the largest number of women ever ran for election or re-election to the Senate.
These women represent just the tip of the pyramid. Millions more women are primed for leadership positions. Women now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs and almost half of all banking and insurance jobs, and are 45% of associates in law firms. They are earning bachelor’s degrees at a far faster rate than men, and are now receiving the slight majority of advanced degrees.
Women are ideally suited to the leadership positions of the future. We’re moving into a globally interconnected world where innovation can mean the difference between business success and failure, a world supersaturated with data that will take the talents of many to mine. Leaders will need to work differently in this new world: They’ll need to foster innovation by encouraging others to work to the best of their abilities and giving them the freedom to think differently, to put ego aside and implement new ideas no matter what their source, to take the needs and desires of diverse communities into account, and to mold very different individuals into teams.
Women are just the people to do that.
New Times Call for New Leaders
Not very long ago, business leaders took their cues from the military. They gave direction from the top down, without soliciting input from the people they led, and expected their directives to be unquestioningly carried out. They set clear parameters for tasks, rewarding subordinates for success and punishing them for failure. They maintained a clear hierarchy in which everyone knew his place and what was expected of him, and focused on the mission rather than the people who were carrying it out. This style of leadership originated with men who served in World War II and brought the principles they’d learned on the battlefield home with them: command-and-control, or authoritarian, transactional leadership, which views leadership as a form of exchange. For decades, these principles were appropriate and effective. They made sense for workplaces in a time when companies were smaller and less complex, faced less competition, and dealt with fewer international organizations or customers. They were a better fit for a more homogeneous and stable workforce. After all, if you plan on working for one company for decades, you can come to appreciate a clear chain of command. It lets you know where you stand and what you need to do to advance. We’re now living in a very different world. Women now comprise half the workforce, and people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds populate the workplace. Few people expect to spend many years with the same firm, and, outside the public sector, pensions are a thing of the past. Millions of people telecommute or take advantage of flexible working arrangements. The ubiquity of the Internet is only intensifying the trend toward greater diversity, flexibility, and complexity in the workplace. Cheap and instantaneous electronic communication has made a wealth of information available to employers, employees, and customers alike—and it’s changing everything.
Dr. Tracey Wilen is a prominent thought leader on the impact of technology on society, work and careers. She’s been a scholar at Stanford University and has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, Cisco, and the Apollo Group. Dr. Wilen has authored 11 books. Her new book Employed for Life , 21st Century career trends was just released.
She has appeared on CNN, Fox and CBS news, in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. She frequently contributes to The Huffington Post, the Examiner, and the Christian Science Monitor and is on radio shows across the US weekly as an expert guest. She is a global speaker on the impact of technology on work, careers, and women’s leadership. She was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as a 2012 Most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business. www.traceywilen.com, @traceywilen
Dr. Wilen is on a corporate speaking tour on the topic of 21st Century Careers and can be reached traceywilen.com, @traceywilen or FB Dr.TraceyWilen