Collaboration and Women Leaders

by Patricia Milton

Interestingly, a recent study on leadership styles conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Pershing, LLC, a major financial services consulting firm, shows that a definitive majority of Americans prefer leaders who employ a more collaborative leadership style.

This new research is a strong endorsement of the facilitative leadership style Interaction Associates has modeled and taught since our founding in 1969.

The study shows that 78 percent of respondents want a leader who will “Listen, consult and ask questions,” compared with only 22 percent who want leaders who "Talk, give orders and answer questions." And fully 81 percent of workers want a leader who will “discern others’ needs, coach, facilitate, and generate commitment.”

A further point of interest is that seven out of 10 Americans associate this leadership style with women. By contrast, 77 percent of those surveyed associate "traditional" leadership approaches, such as giving orders and employing the reward/punishment model, with men.

Unfortunately, we are still stuck with the old-fashioned paradigm where men vastly outnumber women in the boardroom and in key top leadership positions. This is true despite the preference for a collaborative leadership style that US workers associate with women — and despite the fact that women make up 51 percent of all workers in the management, professional, and related occupations. And women currently hold just 4.6 percent of both Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 CEO positions. The good news is that there is a way to turn this situation around: with a combination of direction-setting, commitment building, and capability transfer at the organizational level. That’s right: an organizational system change that involves key stakeholders of both genders is essential to success.

At Interaction Associates, we’re keen to work with organizations that want to integrate and advance more women leaders as a critical talent management strategy. We are experts in the capability transfer area, where we’ve developed a workshop,Women in Leadership, that helps women leaders hone their collaborative leadership style, while learning key skills to advance their careers. Our flagship program, Facilitative Leadership®, teaches the kind of preferred collaborative style and skills any leader can use to get strong, balanced, sustainable results. And our change management approach, which focuses on collaboration and agreement building, is the ideal strategy for solving this complex and intractable issue.

Read more about collaborative change in "The Little Book of Big Change."

Tags : women in leadership leadership development collaborative leadership

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