How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership

gender based leadership

The Power of Diversity

It’s not just the right thing to do.

Diversity is organizational rocket fuel. It’s better decision-making. It’s better results.

I’m always studying what works, what doesn’t, and the latest thinking in this area.

That’s why Melissa Greenwell’s new book, Money on the Table: How to Increase Profits Through Gender-Balanced Leadership, got my attention. Melissa is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of national retailer The Finish Line, Inc. Her new book utilizes current research and demonstrates that more women in management equals better financial performance.

I reached out to her to talk about her research and her perspective. Her views are intriguing and offer a view worthy of discussion and consideration.

 

Study: more women in a group increases problem-solving and decision-making.

 

The Case for Gender Diversity 

For those who aren’t up to date on the latest research, tell us why gender balance is good for organizations. What’s the case for gender diversity?

Hardwiring in the brain is different for men and women. The physical differences are associated with natural tendencies in thinking, communicating, and problem solving that are all needed in business. Men and women demonstrate these traits in varying degrees. Organizations that have traits from both genders will get the best questioning, debate, and idea generation resulting in healthier strategies and increased performance over those who don’t. Those are the organizations that will create the best products and services for their customers.

 

Fact: Public companies with more than 1 woman on the Board have higher returns.

 

Why do some resist it?

I don’t believe people resist it. I believe leaders don’t know what to do to change it. That’s the biggest reason I wrote the book – to provide some actionable advice as to what leaders can do to effect change.  Others have brought awareness and that’s a good first step. Now we need to start doing the things that will lead to more gender diversity in leadership positions.

 

Study: Companies with no gender balance on the board have lower market capitalization.

 

You say that you wrote the book mainly for men in power because they can change the ratio. And then you say some “get it” and some “think about it.” What’s the difference?

I wrote the book mainly for people in positions of power – anyone who is in a senior leadership role can effect change faster. At this time, the vast majority of those people are men.  Of the male leaders I interviewed, I found that there are two main groups: those who “get it” and have been taking steps for several years to have more women in leadership, and those who are “thinking about it” – that is, they acknowledge that women are important to their business but are struggling to find ways to have more of them in senior leadership.  The biggest difference between these two groups of leaders is that those who have greater gender balance in their organizations have taken some very deliberate steps to get them there. They take more time to seek candidates and they reach outside their known network to find female candidates. They tend to take more risks on up-and-coming talent within their organizations as well.

 

Reasons Companies Fail to Keep Women

It’s not only recruiting but also retention that is important to changing the ratio. What are some of the reasons organizations fail to keep women?

Some organizations still refuse to implement the flexibility it takes to keep female talent. They still view creating flexibility as making exceptions rather than viewing it as a competitive advantage. They are busy counting hours instead of measuring results. Those that continue to think that way will fall behind in the war for the best talent.

 

What’s unconscious gender bias and how do you recognize and deal with it?

Unconscious gender bias is continuing to hire people who are just like us (male or female) and not even thinking about the ramifications of doing so. Little to no thought is being given to examining the gender balance of the team or organization when this continues to happen. The only way for it to change is for the top leader to set the tone and lead by example. Everyone follows the lead of the CEO or President, which in itself is far more important than implementing awareness initiatives.

 

Steps for Building Gender-Based Leadership

How Women in Leadership Can Create Win-Wins

The New Advantage

Creating Win-Wins for Companies and Women

In many companies, women are not advancing. This is despite the extensive research showing that more women in leadership positions equals higher company profits and a more competitive organization. At each level of an organization, women dwindle in numbers, leading to a lack of gender balance on top leadership teams.

 

If women make up less than 25% of an applicant pool, they are more likely to be negatively evaluated.

 

As a CEO who advocates and appreciates diversity, a new book by Joelle K. Jay and Howard Morgan intrigued me. The New Advantage: How Women in Leadership Can Create Win-Wins for Their Companies and Themselves doesn’t just talk about the challenge but also provides women ideas and tools to advance. Their research is based on interviews with hundreds of senior executives.

I recently spoke with the authors about their work in creating win-win situations for companies and women.

 

“Executive presence is the degree to which others perceive you to be a leader.” –Morgan & Jay

 

Howard J. Morgan and Joelle K. Jay, PhD, of the Leadership Research Institute (LRI) are co-authors of THE NEW ADVANTAGE:  How Women in Leadership Can Create Win-Wins for Their Companies and Themselves (Praeger / 2016).  LRI is a global consulting firm specializing in leadership and organizational development.  Morgan has worked with over 1,000 CEO and executive team members of the world’s largest organizations on improving corporate and executive performance.  Jay is an executive coach and keynote speaker and specializes in the advancement of executive women.

 

The Unique Problems Women Face in Leaders

What are some of the problems women uniquely face in the workforce?

We have worked with some of the largest organizations in the world. Based on our experience, and several major reports, companies with the highest representation of women in senior management positions are shown to perform the best. Research reports that companies with more women:

  • Are more profitable (18-69%)
  • Are more competitive (25%)
  • Are more effective because they demographically reflect the market (83%).

In balanced leadership teams of men and women, women tend to bring fresh perspectives and ideas, talent and experience, and that leads to better decision-making.

The problem is despite all of those advantages, we found they are persistently underrepresented in senior levels of leadership. Women currently hold only 4.0% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, according to the Catalyst research organization Catalyst.

 

Research: Companies with women are up to 69% more profitable.

 

Companies Benefit When Women Are in Leadership

What are some of the advantages companies experience when more women are represented in leadership? 

Companies that attract and develop executive women gain amazing benefits related to profitability, productivity and performance. Some areas include increased revenues, greater innovation, increased employee engagement, higher productivity, better financial performance, global competitive advantage, and stronger leadership.

Companies benefit from the increased financial performance associated with a balanced leadership team, beating their competition by up to a third.

 

Research: Companies with a balanced leadership team beat the competition by up to a third.

 

What barriers do women face today?

The New AdvantageThe women we’ve spoken with and worked with report a wide range of issues. Perhaps the biggest barrier is a lack of awareness on the part of their companies about what stops women from advancing and how to increase the number of women in senior level and executive leadership positions.

There are a number of obstacles that have prevented the integration of women into the highest levels of leadership. First, change takes time. Second, few role models exist for women at the top. Third, we are still learning about the barriers that prevent women from breaking into C-level leadership. Two of the biggest breakthroughs in recent research for the advancement of women to leadership positions are executive presence and sponsorship. These have only become prevalent topics of research in recent years. And in reality, until recently the business culture has evolved around a predominance of men as leaders, and characteristics associated with successful leadership are still aligned with more masculine traits.

 

“Women who want to succeed to higher levels of leadership have to take the lead.” –Morgan & Jay

 

Take Control of Your Future

Don’t Let Leadership Go to Your Head

I'm Great
This is a guest post by Jason Cooper. Jason is a communications professional at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to leading a multi-media communications unit at the university, he helps leaders improve their communications. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Stay Grounded

Leaders are usually in leadership positions because they have proven themselves in some capacity. They may have had the best technical skills, or the boldest and best ideas, or maybe they found themselves in a leadership position because they knew how to work with and motivate a team of people to accomplish far more than they could alone.

As leaders rise, however, there is a tendency to let it go to their heads. The faster a leader rises, the more likely this is to happen. Pride begins to set in, and pride is the gateway drug to arrogance.

 

“Pride is the gateway drug to arrogance.” -Jason Cooper

 

Leadership, Skill and Value

Leaders must strive to never confuse their skills with their value. I may be “better at” something, but that doesn’t mean I am “better than” someone. People matter! They may have a different skill set or serve in a different capacity, but they matter.

Lousy leaders are ‘better’ at everything. Arrogant talent is a barrier to the growth of others. Humility opens doors for others.” ~ Dan Rockwell

 

“Humility opens doors for others.” -Dan Rockwell

 

Leaders who alienate people by their arrogance rarely last. But leaders who value people and elevate others create long lasting impact. Research continually reinforces that the ability to engage with people is a key indicator for success and employee performance.

 

Arrogance and Humility

No one sets out to become arrogant. We can each think of someone who we have known who over time has grown to be full of themselves. If arrogance is in fact something that can develop over time, then it also stands to reason that there are things we can do to avoid it happening to us. But it can be tricky. One can simply go through the motions in order to wear their humility like a shiny badge of honor.

A professor of mine in college would, after leading the class in sharing positive feedback regarding our in-class presentations, transition to sharing criticism with the phrase, “Lest a man [or woman] think more highly of himself than he ought…” In his honor, here are a few suggestions on how to cultivate humility.

 

“Leaders who alienate people by their arrogance rarely last.” -Jason Cooper

 

 

7 Practical Ways to Cultivate Humility

 

1. Have lunch with the janitor.

Seek out those who by the world’s standards are near the bottom. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Treat them as equals (because ultimately they are). You’ll find that you are not so different from them.

 

2. Intentionally share the credit with your team even when they aren’t around.

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

Shift Your State

Shift Your State

Anese Cavanaugh’s new work, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives is a terrific guide to upping your leadership and creating a positive, contagious atmosphere.

After our first interview, I thought to ask Anese about some of her tips for shifting someone’s state. Why? Because it’s one of the most important aspect of leadership. The ability to help someone from one state to another is a skill that every leader should master.

 

Leadership Tip: Increase your awareness of what is working and the impact your choices have.

 

7 Game Changers

In your work as an advisor and “thinking partner” to leaders and organizations, you developed 7 game changers to shift someone’s state. What has been your experience using them as a coaching tool?Anese Cavanaugh

I’ve found that even offering these as places for people to look can make them game changers within themselves. So much of this work is about awareness. Awareness as to what’s working – and what’s not, awareness of their role and impact in how things are and how their choices have led them here, awareness that they can choose, awareness that there’s dissatisfaction, awareness of the impact their relationships have on them (and vice versa), and awareness that they can very much in fact do something to shift things – even if that something is just getting a bit of extra water, finding ONE thing they’re grateful for, telling someone they see how great they are, taking ownership and cleaning something up, asking for help, or finding (and claiming) the request (or wish) that lives underneath their complaint. Once they have awareness that these 7 things have impact – they can get into action. Big or small.

 

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

1: Do your work. Be accountable for your choices.

2: Stop complaining and start resolving.

3: Ask for help-admit your glorious imperfections.

4: Surround yourself with good people.

5: Practice gratitude, even for the stuff that hurts.

6: Eat well. Really well. Move your body. Drink water.

7: Love your kids. Love your friends. Love your people. Love yourself. Remember who you are.

 

Simple ways to integrate these 7 points is to take each one and try it on for a day. For example, ask: Where do I need to show up bigger? Where can I be more accountable for the choices I’ve made? How did my choices lead me here? What choice can I make now to start shifting this in the right direction? How would I like things to be instead? Where do I need help? Where am I making “looking good” more important than asking for help or creating real and positive impact? Who’s my professional posse / my advisory board? How am I taking care of myself? (Truly?) What’s the littlest thing I can do to shift ANY of these? Little things make big ripples.

 

Shift From Complaining to Doing

20 Ways to Detect a Deceitful Leader

Deceitful Leaders
This is a guest post by friend and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor.

Detecting Deceitful Leaders

Have you ever had an uneasy feeling that a leader is not as genuine or sincere as you would expect? There are numerous signals and behaviors that distinguish a genuine leader from someone who is simply trying to achieve a personal—perhaps deceitful—agenda. If you observe carefully, you can find what is causing the uneasy feeling.

Listed in the following comparison are ways to distinguish between genuine leadership and a person in a leadership position who has hidden motives. Some behaviors are stated in the extreme— just to emphasize the point. Deceitful leaders are also very good at what they do, so observe them closely.

 

“Behaviors can distinguish a deceitful leader from a genuine leader.” -Bruce Rhoades

 

 

Comparison: True Leaders and Deceitful Leaders

 

  1. Leaders bring people together for common goals. Deceitful Leaders divide people and focus on narrow issues that may be part of an unstated, deceitful goal.

“Leaders bring people together for common goals.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders encourage open, direct communication. Deceitful Leaders display a low tolerance for open communication. They control information.

“Leaders encourage open, direct communication.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders solicit and consider opposing views and positions. Deceitful Leaders exhibit little tolerance for opposing views. They may reject opposing views or ideas without consideration and limit debate.

“Leaders solicit and consider opposing views.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people. Deceitful Leaders use divisive, negative characterization of issues and groups to energize followers.


“Leaders use larger goals to energize and unite people.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders are transparent, have an open agenda and stated purposes. Deceitful Leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear. They often have a hidden agenda.


“Deceitful leaders carefully manage issues and what people hear.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines. Deceitful Leaders will use the “end justifies the means” to achieve objectives.


“Leaders stick to values, principles and ethical guidelines.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders listen attentively. Deceitful Leaders talk more than listen. They occasionally shout or “preach.”


“Leaders listen attentively.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders show respect for each individual. Deceitful Leaders respect only those who are like-minded and disenfranchise those who are not like-minded.


“Deceitful leaders respect only those who are like-minded.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values. They encourage individual initiative. Deceitful Leaders want control and dutiful obedience; “punishing” those who are “out of line.”   Individual initiative is rarely appreciated.


“Leaders want individuals to thrive and work from principles and values.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders use facts and logic. Deceitful Leaders use emotions (with bias toward negative ones).


“Leaders use facts and logic.” -Bruce Rhoades


 

  1. Leaders share data and influence with clearly stated facts, options and conclusions. Deceitful Leaders state conclusions and positions with limited substance and fact. They may use charged rhetoric or misleading data.


“Deceitful leaders use charged rhetoric and misleading data.” -Bruce Rhoades