Last week in Davos Switzerland, the World Economic Forum theme focused on equality and inclusion.
And yet, female delegates made up approximately 17% of the attendees.
This sad situation is not me beating the drum of gender equality – which is also important. This is a symbol of the lack of leadership balance in modern workplace cultures. It’s about the fact that most corporations are lacking the fullest range of qualities needed in executing increasingly dynamic and complex strategies.
Today’s corporate cultures are still all about the bass, about the bass … no treble.
There is increasing evidence that companies with female representation in the executive suite outperform those with no women, on several dimensions, including share price performance, return on equity, and operating results. And yet, there is still a significant gender gap in corporate boardrooms around the globe. In 2013, women held not even 17% of corporate board seats. Just 14.6% of executive officers were women, and 4% of these were CEOs. (research by Catalyst).
Wherever you sit on the gender equality issue, one truth stands clear: Business is ripe for a long-standing cultural change: Fostering balanced leadership. Today, we live in an era in which competitive advantage is achieved by moving at the “speed of change.”
How well your organization can manage change, lead change, help people to embrace change, and create competitive advantage within your industry through high-speed change across your business. It’s not about playing the sheet music perfectly, it’s about creating the ability to improvise (innovate) effectively. Doing so means building habits in a culture that nurtures the best performance from people and teams – versus simply demanding “it shall be done.”
The qualities most companies tell me they need in their corporate cultures are: Inclusion, innovation, collaboration, trust, engagement. Let’s be honest, these qualities are more naturally the way of women (no disrespect to all you capable men reading this.) And yet, if there is a lack of female representation and power in our corporations, who are the role models with the authority and power to build these qualities into the culture?
I am not advocating male leadership is irrelevant by any means. But in an era where customers are king and employees have choice, leadership styles that focus on competitiveness, financial measures, and “just do it” are no longer sufficient.
Balance is the game leaders! Between head and heart. Between clear goals and good process. Between dry facts and inspiring emotion. Between “need to know basis” and fostering a culture of sharing information and best practices across the business.
This is what accelerates your speed of change.
This is what accelerates profitable growth and true competitive advantage.
What are you waiting for?