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Men’s Role in Integrated Leadership

We’ve been talking about gender (and cultural) diversity for years now. And yet, despite the fact that 50 percent of the workforce is comprised of women and that women are now graduating with twice as many degrees as men, women make up only 14 percent of senior executive roles. So what is going on here? Why are more women not advancing to the senior leadership ranks?

I realize that I run the risk of being politically incorrect when I say this, but I think men play a significant role in this situation. Quite frankly, how could they not? The vast majority of senior and executive leaders are men. Given their sheer numbers, one must logically conclude that men have some kind of impact or influence on the lack of women in leadership…but not in the way that you might think.

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Better Balance Means Better Business Results

Having served as an executive for three Fortune 500 companies and running my own leadership development company for the past 20 years, I have never seen so many business leaders, across all business sectors and industries, work so hard to juggle so many challenges and opportunities. Shifting market conditions, higher customer expectations, ever-evolving workforce demographics, new business processes, constant advances in technology, and rapid social changes are causing many business leaders to rethink the kind of leadership that is needed to navigate the new terrain.

The truth is that we can no longer use the same thought and decision-making processes that we used just ten years ago…20th-century leadership models simply won’t work for 21st-century organizations and 21st-century problems. We need a different leadership model – one that is more balanced and integrated. Successful organizations of the future will be led by fully engaged, balanced teams of men and women working together. I call this Integrated Leadership.

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What Can Business Leaders Learn from the Leadership Failure in Washington?

While the more immediate issues regarding the debt crisis appear to be resolved, the recent events in Washington have illuminated the stunning failure of our country’s leadership. Never before have I seen from the various factions of government such a lack of collaboration and willingness to work together for the greater good of the country. Yet I choose to look for the silver lining in this challenging and disappointing situation with our government…perhaps there is something organizations can learn from this episode.

While many organizations have processes in place to encourage people to work together, most still struggle with the dilemma of collaboration between leadership levels, departments, genders, generations, and cultures. The culture of collaboration within an organization – or the lack thereof – starts at the top. Whether they realize it or not, the manner in which the leaders of an organization work together sets the tone for how everyone else in the organization will work together. If the vice presidents of sales and customer service won’t collaborate for the good of the customer, don’t expect their teams to work together either.

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Take A Deeper Dive

After presenting at a recent conference I found myself sitting at lunch next to a CEO who seemed anxious to talk to me. He related that although his company had made significant investments over the past few years in diversity training, lean six sigma initiatives and team development, he still wasn’t satisfied with the speed of transformation within the company. Women leaders were not advancing at the hoped-for pace, silo mentality was still rampant, and opinion survey results suggested that many managers and executives weren’t really listening to their employee; thus the employees felt disengaged and not involved in the important decisions and actions of the company. The CEO concluded with his litany of disappointing results from his training investments with, “We dove into these activities, but results so far we aren’t making much of a splash! What would you recommend, Becky?”

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