Many of the best leaders I know are women. At all levels within my company and when dealing with other companies, I find that women leaders are doing great things.
I have begun really relying on several female leaders within my company, to help me in all sorts of ways. Sometimes for the simple act of having someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of, blow off some corporate politics steam. I think we call that “mentoring” but maybe we need to change the name to “womentoring” – ok maybe not. Anyway, I have always been a proponent of advancing women as leaders and have spent a decent amount of time developing women that work for me or others looking for some guidance or advice. But this is the first time I consciously remember leveraging female leaders for my own benefit in such a holistic way.
Of course, I’m cherry picking slightly, as I’m currently able to “selectively” work with those leaders I think can have the biggest impact. It’s not always like that, so I certainly recognize there are bad female leaders, just like there are bad men leaders. It’s like the old story where you know a minority group has “made it” when they can be fired from a job just like a white male. But I’ve noticed a few things – nothing groundbreaking if you follow the literature on this subject – that are meaningful to me that these women bring to the table:
- Reliability. My mentors are very good at doing what they say; sticking to agreements we had, not getting swayed by the mood of others or who they talked to last. And if something does need to change, I more often hear it from them directly and quickly than from my male counterparts; where I often hear third hand and when I ask I get something like, “Oh yeah, sorry about that, we just couldn’t do it the way we thought so we went a different direction.”
- Empathy. The conversations I have with these leaders often have a more 360 degree view of the situation. We think through and talk through the impacts of our work on more stakeholders than when it’s just the guys figuring it out. This leads to more “win-win” decisions and better plans to actually implement our ideas.
- Honesty. The women around me give me great feedback. They are not afraid to tell me what I can do to be better, or when I really do a good job. They build trust through the first two items above, and leverage it for what it’s good at, helping others.
Given my earlier statement that I’ve been interested in promoting women leadership, but just realized the power of it, now I’m motivated to get even more engaged. I am lucky that our company (and me) recognizes the need to develop women leaders (we have many of them, host an annual women’s leadership conference, and ensure our policies and practices allow for women to succeed). But there is always more to do, and I am seeing the benefits of involving myself more with women leaders.
A big salute to women leaders, you have a lot of advocates and if we haven’t said it enough, then “thank you” for all you do.