What Do Women Bring to the Table?

Linda Tarr-Whelan is a premier expert on women’s leadership in this country and internationally. She is a distinguished senior fellow of the national think tank Demos and served as ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in the Clinton administration and as deputy assistant for women’s concerns to President Jimmy Carter in the Carter White House.

Balanced leadership that meets the 30% Solution – enough women at the table to be heard and heeded brings benefits for everyone. The positive difference works for men and women. Other countries have moved aggressively to tap all their talent, not just half. Here’s what both research and experience show are the reasons why. Women lead the way to:

1. A Better Bottom-line – Companies have a higher profits and weather financial storms better with more risk awareness and less hyper-competitiveness. The self-sustaining “old boys network“ at the top reinforces old ways of business and lacks the flexibility needed for a complex and fast-changing world.

2. Better Policies -- Often neglected issues like education, the well-being of children, ending violence against women and fostering entrepreneurship come to the fore. Regardless of party, women elected officials work across party lines for outcomes, not just “gotcha” politics. The door is wedged open with more opportunity for more women.

3. An Integrated Life – Better family and work policies add to productivity and a higher quality of life, especially family life. With virtually every parent in the workforce, the forced decisions about management of time between family and work can be mitigated by new policies and ways of doing business.

4. A Revitalized Social Contract – the engagement of women in the community is reflected in increased commitment to both personal and corporate social responsibility and longer-term and wider horizons for determining policies and programs.

5. 21st Century Management – Partnerships, teamwork, consensus building and collaborative decision-making are hallmarks of successful businesses – and of women’s leadership and management styles. Mission-driven outcomes are the result. Today’s workforce is increasingly motivated to participate and work for outcomes beyond a paycheck.

Do you agree? Disagree? Have an opinion? Chime in below.

Collective Folly: Five Things to Avoid

The authors of The Power of Collective Wisdom put together this simple list of the five things to look out for regarding collective folly:

a. Confirmation Bias: We fall victim to the tendency to search for and interpret information in ways that confirm our existing pre-conceptions. Such a bias prevents us from seeing new ideas or other possibilities.

b. The One True Answer: We begin to believe (perhaps because of a too-narrow view of possibilities) that there is only one right answer or approach to solve a problem or arrive at a solution. We become rigid and dogmatic.

c. Polarization, Initial: Individuals and sub groups become polarized in their views and polarized from each other, no longer listening or considering new possibilities.

d. Polarization, Deepening:
As levels of polarization grow, each new piece of information or viewpoint becomes additional fodder used to attack an “other.”

e. Impasse: The group discovers it is deadlocked. Worse yet, neither side is able to see how their own rigidity weakens the aims of the entire group or collective. The focus of attention is no longer on the issues needing resolution but on the unreasonable position of the other.

The result? Collective folly, the absence of sound judgment and the potential for a continuum of behaviors ranging from foolish behavior to criminality, evil, and depravity on a mass scale.

Agree? Disagree? Chime in below.