Women in Innovation Leadership
by Tess Julian, CEO of Catalyst Exchange
Women in innovation leadership is becoming a hot topic, so it was great to be part of a women’s lunch hosted by Griffith Hack with Hargraves Institute earlier this month.
Lynne Teo facilitated the discussion and entertained and informed us through her clever and descriptive drawings, which tracked the outcomes of the conversation.
The key question I suppose, was whether a focus on innovation within organisations provided more opportunities for women? Does the style of leadership demanded by an organisation aspiring to develop a culture of innovation suit women better?
The lunch guests were wary about making generalisations about women‘s and men’s strengths, given that poor management practices are present in female-dominated organisations as well. Equally, many men display attributes such as collaborating, team building and supporting.
Nevertheless, as the Bain & Company survey of 2011 reveals, both genders rate women lower on attributes associated with traditional leadership—problem solving, influencing, delegating—and more highly than men in other areas often associated with an innovation culture, that is, supporting, consulting, mentoring and rewarding.
The discussion left me with a number of questions, which may well be the subject of further lunches:
- Are organisations looking for a different leadership style to foster a culture of innovation, based on the ability to communicate, collaborate, support and mentor?
- Are they looking for leaders who are more resilient, flexible and able to multitask?
- If so, will women feel more confident about putting themselves forward for promotional positions and will men support them in doing so?
- Will male leaders recognise the importance of these interpersonal skills and attributes, and develop their own capability so that they can apply them to foster innovation?
I look forward to continuing the discussions at Hargraves' Women in Innovation Leadership Lunches.