The coffee mug I have been carrying around for many years is decorated with the quote “Some LEADERS are born WOMEN.” As a fundraising pottery mug, back in the 1980s they likely thought it was a clever and trendy message. The mug survived to a new century, and how are those “born leaders” doing?
A recent HBR blog posting by Debora Spar, president of Barnard College, is titled "Women Don’t Need to Lead Better Than Men. They Need to Lead Differently." Spar acknowledges that women seem to be stalled out in key leadership roles in business:
Across the public and private sectors, women are still underrepresented at the highest levels of power. Women today account for only 15.2% of the board members of Fortune 500 corporations, 16% of partners at the largest law firms, and 19% of surgeons.
She observes that the Wall Street financial meltdown managers were mostly male leaders. Recent studies cite the financial performance benefits of more women in corporate board or senior leadership roles. The future of ethical business decisions are being made with more diversity at the table.
We need the different leadership and management styles that women can bring to corporate management. Women who are “born leaders” can take the steps needed to sponsor more women in leadership roles and change the leadership track to include more women along the way.
Women in new business roles can seek out opportunities for leadership and work to get their skills recognized. Don’t give up on the track to the leader table. The different insight, experience and point of view is just what a company can use to grow in this new century.
As Spar concludes, “And we need more men to recognize that having women around the table isn’t just a nice thing to do. It makes for a better table.” Those 1980’s women, raising money with coffee mugs, would be pleased.
Leslie Krona is program manager and adviser for the Master of Business Communication program.