Navigating Gender Stereotypes in Leadership, Part 2: Cultivating Female Leadership

By Kaitlyn Miller on June 09, 2017

Cultivating Female Leadership & The Importance of Asset Management

In part one of “Navigating Gender Stereotypes in Leadership” Dr. Sanford Kulkin, CEO of PeopleKeys, discussed the top qualities that excellent leaders bring to the table: integrity, vision, dedication, assertiveness, and decisiveness. He enforced the idea that skills can be acquired, experience can be gained, but these qualities are part of a person’s very fiber and character and are not easily taught. A company has to have integrity at its core, and so must its leaders.

In part two, talent management techniques and strategies for cultivating female leadership are developed further.

The Importance of Asset Management

“As a corporate consultant and industrial psychologist, I have helped thousands of companies to unlock the potential in their workforces. I am retained by the management of many companies all over the world to hire and promote talent. A company's talent is their greatest asset. I have been studying behavioral styles, occupational benchmarks, and leadership qualities for over 30 years. In working with talent in companies, I have observed that each corporate culture and occupation has unique needs and each employee (male or female) has unique needs. My role is to assess the specific company and job, then find an employee who fits that criteria.  I always advocate for a diverse workforce, and while this includes women in leadership positions, the most important thing is to hire only the  best candidate in that role,” said Dr. Kulkin.

PeopleKeys engages in a process designed to assess the corporate culture, the specific work role, and the candidate. This diagnostic work forms the basis for informed decisions and can replicate top performers, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. Dr.Kulkin stated that he and his company worked to benchmark the best styles relevant for certain occupations. The system PeopleKeys has created works for so many companies, saving them money and time, and creating a happier and more productive workforce.

Each leadership role, regardless of industry and corporate culture has a certain leadership skill set that is essential. These are natural traits shared by every leader, some are innate, and others can be learned. If your leadership has been challenged to the extent that you have to tell someone that you are a leader, you probably aren't acting like one. PeopleKeys has developed an assessment designed to identify leadership qualities. This is an indispensable tool for management and for team building.

Excellent leadership takes many forms, and is of course not distinguishable by gender or any other identity category, but rather by different personality and behavioral styles. It is important to understand what behavioral style works in a particular role and what behavioral dimensions are necessary for longevity, productivity and success. That becomes the benchmark for that role.

Strategies for Cultivating Female Leadership

A recent study by the Catalyst advisory and research organization indicated that the Fortune 500 companies with higher percentages of C suite female employees “enjoyed a 35.1% average higher return on equity and a 34% higher return to shareholders than companies with the lowest percentages of female corporate officers.”

The benefits are clear, but how do you cultivate more female leadership within your company? Some Fortune 500 companies have opted to incorporate diversity through workshops and mentorship programs. These systematic approaches to incorporating more women leaders is an excellent start, but their success hinges on transparent and honest communication from the top down. They also require a system for enforcing accountability, or, in isolation, they just end up doing lip service toward incorporating diversity in leadership.

PeopleKeys advocates for incorporating diversity initiatives in hiring practices by making hiring decisions based not only off of skills and experience, but by utilizing personality assessments and Behavioral Analysis resources to find the person who is the best fit for the team’s culture. They also are strong advocates of promoting from within- yet another arena in which Behavioral Analysis resources and customized hiring benchmarks are indispensable. They also advocate for the creation of targeted development opportunities. This type of individualized leadership development can be based off of the person’s unique personality. By understanding and recognizing that leadership takes many forms, different personalities can feel as though their approach to leadership is supported and valued. This encourages all people to feel as though they can move into leadership roles with more administrative support, increasing diversity in the workplace. 

About the Author: Kaitlyn Miller

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