Last week included International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme was “Be Bold for Change”. Be bold. When it comes to leadership skills, women are much more comfortable with change than being bold. I recently attended a webinar on emotional intelligence and women’s leadership. The organization was reporting results from their assessment tool (EI tools are common, and I’m sure you’ve seen or participated in more than one over your career) and the more than 100,000 leaders they have worked with.
The summary: men rate themselves much higher on self-regard, and ask for things (raises, promotions, special considerations) 3 times more than women; women, under stress, become more cautious, whereas men take greater risks; women score higher in building and maintaining more effective relationships with direct reports and managers. This may be intuitive to you if you are someone who spends time studying leadership, or is in a firm where the dichotomy between men and women is obvious. The real use of this information is to apply it – how can we better prepare women leaders to run our organizations? And, to be more direct, how do we capture the attention of female lawyers so they stay in the profession and contribute at the leadershiip level?
Start with asking more questions, creating leadership development opportunities which include specific sessions for the women in the firm. Use these sessions as opportunities to explore their assertiveness, develop their awareness of stress so they understand when stress interferes with decision making. The legal industry finally recognized the benefits of practice groups, client service teams, and mentorship. Capitalize on the interpersonal skills that women can develop more easily to create cadres, working groups, and teams that allow these skills to shine.
When these things are put together, well, you have been bold for change.