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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why Do Women Leaders Often Get a Poor Press?

If a woman leader shows her strength and assertiveness with no apologies, many will say she is ruthless.

And, if she shows a tear in the corner of her eye, others will wonder if she’s an emotional wreck.

A woman in power struggles constantly with finding an agreeable midpoint: her bosses, employees, or colleagues will call her aggressive when she’s asserting herself. Others will find her style robotic when she’s just focusing on the points she needs to address in an objective way. Assertiveness, strategic approaches, and focused actions have been leadership qualities that are more traditionally attributed to males.

Instead, many people feel more comfortable around women with a more traditionally female-style: a woman who smiles and mediates discord, a woman who will back off and never come off too strong in an argument, even if her point remains vague, or a woman who will show her sensitivity and seem to empathise with everyone’s feelings in spite of not getting the job done.

A strong woman in power will maximise her position, asserting herself in the key issues, addressing them at the core and yet, she will be aware and connected with her audience, listening to their stories, empathising with their challenges, and proposing the commitment to help them out in every possible way.

After all, for all of us looking up to them, all we want is someone who will take care of business, focusing their time in resolving issues rather than in trying to destroy their opponent, someone who knows both because of thorough knowledge and experience and someone who cares.

Great leaders, both male and female, will connect in this way to get things done.

General Colin Powell Receives American Patriot of Character Award

General Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, received the American Patriot of Character Award presented by The Character Education Partnership during their 16th annual National Forum on Character Education, in Alexandria, VA, last week.

The American Patriot of Character Award honours one American citizen whose leadership exemplifies the very best of the nation's founding principles. The award recognises individuals not only for great success in their chosen field, but also for upholding the highest ethical standards in service of the common good.

"General Powell is a remarkable public servant who has truly made a positive difference in our nation," CEP's executive director Joe Mazzola said. "He is a shining example of integrity for young people, and all American citizens, to emulate. We are honoured to have him as the first recipient of this award."

In his acceptance remarks Powell talked about his family's emphasis on good character and achievement. He said a turning point in his life came about when he entered the ROTC program in college, and it emphasised West Point's code of ethics.

General Powell also congratulated the National Schools of Character award winners who were in attendance to receive their awards. He commended the educators for their efforts to develop students of good character.

The purpose of the National Schools of Character awards programme is to identify, honour, and showcase exemplars in character education and facilitate their leadership in mentoring others. The goal of the national program is to provide a variety of models of comprehensive, quality character education, representing America's diverse educational system.

Here are General Powell's 13 Rules of Leadership:


Why Leadership Depth Matters in an Organisation

When it comes to leadership bench strength, some company benches are dangerously light. These companies, from large corporations to small and mid-sized businesses, lack the talent needed to sustain or grow the business beyond its current level. Some companies have depended on the same leaders for years without developing new leaders. Other companies have attempted to develop leaders, but there is no strategic or integrated approach. Still other companies have unexpectedly lost leaders they were counting on.

Each year, about 25 percent of US managers in typical mid-sized companies change jobs. Most spend an average of four years in a given position. High potential leaders in mid-senior ranks move more frequently: every two to three years. These statistics demonstrate why companies must build solid leadership. Leaders must concentrate on developing their teams, getting the right people in the right jobs and producing results. Good leadership also influences a person’s decision to remain with a company.

Here are ten ideas for building your leadership pool:

1. Transfer knowledge and experience from the top

Companies can capture the wisdom from experienced leaders to aid in educating and developing future leaders.

2. Build relationships across generations

Leadership skills, talents and values differ across generations. Dealing with these differences constructively strengthens the overall leadership of your organisation.

3. Strengthen leadership peer relationships

Often, large organisations operate like a conglomeration of silos. It’s easy for leaders to feel isolated in their roles. Helping leaders learn from each other and strengthening interpersonal relationships build needed peer support and camaraderie.

4. Develop succession plans

Companies shouldn’t wait until the need for a leader is obvious. Careful thought and planning in advance eases the transition.

5. Identify and nurture high-potential leaders

Pay special attention to those employees possessing strong capabilities operating below the radar. They can be the most likely to leave.

6. Provide needed cross departmental learning and exposure

With better knowledge of other departments and the organisational system as a whole, leaders can help your departments function more effectively.

7. Offer executive coaching/real-time learning

Large companies are turning to fresh approaches to help executives learn, get feedback and gain support based on experiential learning. Many executives like the personalised approach.

8. Include more leaders in strategic planning

One of the most common challenges faced by leaders is the need to think and act more strategically. Busy executives struggle to find the time to think about the issues they most want or care about. Their focus is diffused. Fostering strategic thinking early in a leader’s career will serve him or her well in the future.

9. Provide mentoring or coaching support for new managers

Along with a new title and pay raise, new managers should benefit by having stronger initial support through mentoring or coaching programs to help them get acclimated in their new roles.

10. Assess leadership talent

There are a variety of assessments in the marketplace to help companies assess leadership skills, behaviours and values. These tools give leaders insights to help them increase their effectiveness.