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Integrated Leadership: Asking the Right Questions

The Integrated Leadership model embraces and leverages the strengths of both male and female leaders. As mentioned in my last post, Integrated Leadership: Building on the Benefits, recent research revealed that its not brain differences that are behind the diverse approaches each gender takes when it comes to thinking, communications, and problem-solving.

Instead, such differences may be based on social experiences and other factors that women and men experience. Regardless of why there may be gender-based nuances in problem-solving approaches and decision-making/communication styles, when organizations adopt a more gender-balanced approach to leading others, there is a significant, positive effect: better business outcomes.

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What Do Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Have in Common?

With the recent publication of Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of Most Powerful Women (MPW), the obvious question is: what are these leaders doing right? There are 27 CEOs on the 2015 list who in aggregate control $1 trillion in stock market value. A quick scan through the list reveals one thing that many of the most successful women in business have in common: they were brought into the top spot when their organizations were in major flux or crisis.


Let’s look at two examples heading the list: this year’s number-one MPW, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, took on her current role just one year ago in the midst of the auto manufacturer’s ignition-switch recall. While 2014 profits dropped 26 percent in the wake of the recalls, this year Barra has led the company beyond the crisis with climbing sales of trucks and SUVs despite weak international markets.

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Which Tech Companies Are Ahead of the Curve in Women’s Leadership?

As we’ve seen from a flurry of media reports over the past few months, tech companies are beginning to “out” themselves for lack of diversity. Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and LinkedIn are among a growing number of tech firms whose voluntary disclosures on demographic data reveal industry trends of a workforce that’s still primarily male and white—especially at the executive levels and in actual technology jobs. (See “The Genie Is Out of the Bottle for Silicon Valley: Lack of Diversity.”)

Based on SHAMBAUGH Leadership’s research, which includes working with a number of tech organizations as well as other industries, a number of identifiable factors lie behind these concerning trends. Outdated and non-inclusive cultures, poor relationships with managers, and a lack of mentors and sponsors have all contributed to the industry’s apparent failure to appropriately recruit, advance, and retain women and minorities.

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Women Helping Women

This fall, I spoke at a leadership conference in San Francisco and was fortunate while I was there, to reconnect with a dear friend, Nancy Hayes. Nancy served as an executive in IBM for many years and is now the co-founder of MoolaHoop ( – a company whose mission is to help women owned businesses and entrepreneurs gain the tools and resources they need to grow their businesses. Nancy’s efforts are not only purposeful but they are also timely. Women owned businesses represent 30% of all new businesses in the US each year and they are growing at twice the rate of male owned businesses. Yet, when you look at funding, they get only 5% of venture capital funds and 12% of investment banking.

I asked Nancy how she and her partner actually help their female clients and she said, “I think we help women have a breakthrough by helping them figure out how to talk about their business/goal/mission in a way that others can relate to and then we show them how to build a community of following (social media/customer set) that will help grow their business. Helping people to clearly communicate is one of the biggest advantages you can give them.”

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Executive Insights on Integrated Leadership

At a recent event in Washington, D.C. for my latest book, Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results (McGraw-Hill), I was honored to have in attendance senior executives from such highly successful companies as Marriott, Merck, IBM and PPD. Several of these executives shared their insights and perspectives on leadership and what it’s going to take to lead effectively in the 21st century.

I opened the event by highlighting the dramatic shifts taking place in our work environments and across the world, as well as the business case for Integrated Leadership, which calls for embracing and leveraging the broader spectrum of human intelligence in our organizations and teams. Dottie Brienza, Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Talent Development for Merck, then shared some terrific thoughts on Integrated Leadership and the importance of having balanced leadership teams: “Numerous research studies show that organizations with a greater number of women in senior executive positions are more profitable, have greater market share and are better able to compete and grow. Businesses that have fewer women, frankly, are leaving money on the table. It simply doesn’t make good business sense to leave women out. This is not because women are better than men. It’s because women bring something fundamentally different to the table that allows businesses to operate more holistically.”

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Let’s Shift the Paradigm! The Time is Now for Balanced Leadership!

It seems lately that our world is experiencing dramatic shifts affecting us all. Whether it's events such as the world financial markets, the earthquake in Japan, bi-partisan budget wrangling or re-defining healthcare, the world lately seems to have shifted a bit on its axis. Another area that I’ve observed recently that’s also dramatically shifting right under our feet, is the concept of leadership.

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