HBR | The biases that still hold female leaders back | Review


The words Emotional Bossy Too Nice highlight Harvard Business Review’s September 2013 issue, which focuses on female leader issues. Three articles showcase the latest findings followed by recent research statistics, which we can all put to use right away. Of the three articles, Great Leaders Who Make The Mix Work provides the most complete example of putting effective practices to use. This HBR issue is worth buying and sharing with leaders, both women and men, and is highly recommended as a coaching tool.

Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers [Ibarra, Ely & Kolb]

3 additional actions beyond simply “having a diversity program” are recommended for effective leadership pipeline development:

1. Have a leadership identity – sense of purpose – pursue goals aligned with one’s Personal Leadership Philosophy.

2. Understand second-generation gender bias, or residual challenges and perceptions remaining in the workplace such as preconceived male & female roles.

3. Foster “safe workplaces” for female networking and for applied leadership since female leaders are generally “under a microscope” which may lead to overly cautious behaviors.

Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work [Groysberg & Connolly]

24 CEOs recognized as successful at both diversity and inclusion were interviewed. Common practices included establishing diversity as a personal mission and focusing on application (inclusiveness). Eight success factors were listed: use a diversity and inclusion index, accountability, flex work, breadth of pool, leadership programs, networks & mentoring, demonstrate with role models, effective use of chief diversity officer – all underscored with leading by example.

How Women Decide [Benko & Pelster]

A combination Deloitte case study and brain research findings, leading to left-brain right-brain [E2L] commentary. Recommended adjustments for selling to women: Establish rapport: what do you notice (from the woman’s point of view)? Can you collaborate? Beware of male ego games such as playful one-upping each other. How thorough are you? This article is a great application of the platinum rule when selling (communicating) with female buyers.

A Research Roundup

Several useful pages of visual statistics and sources are provided. The work/life balance has a stunning 90% citation rate, explaining why women really opt out of a professional path.

JE | October 2013