Building a Business Case for Integrated Leadership

This month’s blog posting focuses on integrated leadership and why it makes good business sense. This is an excerpt from Rebecca Shambaugh, President of SHAMBAUGH, which was posted on her blog site on March 4th.  Please see her bio after the blog post.

Building a Business Case for Integrated Leadership

by Rebecca Shambaugh

In my last post, “Why We Need Integrated Leadership”, I discussed several reasons why companies need to begin moving toward a more balanced, integrated approach to leadership. I explained how in our ever more complex and connected world, organizations no longer have the luxury of failing to tap into the full capacity of their leadership team. We need all voices on deck to create a unified and integrated group of leaders who can leverage each other’s unique strengths, while integrating both the practical and creative insights of different perspectives.

But how can companies turn this vision into reality? A great start is to begin to build a business case for Integrated Leadership. Learning to communicate solid business-related rationale for creating a more diverse and balanced leadership culture can help move companies beyond the “stuck stage” when filling senior leadership positions.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building a business case for Integrated Leadership. I recommend that companies get the ball rolling by focusing their talking points around the following four messages:

  • Women have become an important powerhouse in the business world. I shared a number of statistics in my recent book Make Room For Her about the extent to which women and women-owned firms help to power the economy. For example:
    • Women represent 80 percent on consumer decisions
    • Women comprise over half of the U.S. workforce
    • Women own more than half of the privately held companies in the U.S.
    • Women possess important leadership styles and perceptives that are known to enhance organization’s bottom line performance
  • Companies with gender-diverse management teams have been proven to consistently perform better and be more profitable than those without them. There is overwhelming evidence to support the value of having more women in senior leadership positions. A growing body of research—including studies by McKinsey & Company—has proven that companies with more women in senior executive and board roles have advantages over those that don’t. These advantages include:
    • More profitability
    • Better ability to attract and retain top talent
    • Better ability to grow and maintain their competitive advantage
  • Research shows that women leaders are just as capable as male leaders. In Make Room For Her, I also shared some research from Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, authors of The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate, which found that:
    • Women are rated higher than men in 12 of the 16 competencies that go into outstanding leadership.
    • At every level of leadership, peers, bosses, direct reports, and other associates rated more women than men as “better overall leaders.”
    • The higher the level of leadership, the wider this gender gap grows.
  • Women’s natural leadership tendencies are critical in today’s business environment. Research has shown that the “collective intelligence” of an entire group rises if there are more women in its ranks. An article in Harvard Business Review explains that this is partly accounted by the fact that women generally exhibit greater capacity for “social sensitivity” than men, since women tend to possess natural skills for:
    • Listening to others
    • Sharing constructive criticism
    • Keeping an open mind
    • Avoiding an autocratic leadership style

Now is the time to foster a culture of Integrated Leadership—one that values, leverages, and blends the differences and attributes of both genders. Building a solid business case to support this initiative can help move organizations away from trying simply to achieve diversity quotas, or “fix” women through leadership development programs. You need not feel limited by the ideas above when you build your case—for example, you might add the point that diversity of thought and perspective is needed in every industry, and gender-balanced teams have been linked with driving greater innovation. The point is that leveraging a strong business case can help break through the status-quo approach to hiring and retention strategies, and can lead companies to a better way of doing business.

Rebecca Shambaugh’s Biography

Rebecca Shambaugh is an internationally recognized leadership expert, author, and keynote speaker.

She speaks before thousands of leaders around the world every year, challenging conventional wisdom and overturning assumptions about how to lead in today’s business environment. Her compelling and new vision for leadership in the 21st Century has electrified and inspired audiences on six continents.

Rebecca is President of SHAMBAUGH, a global leadership development organization and Founder of Women In Leadership and Learning (WILL), one of the first executive leadership development programs in the country, dedicated to the research, advancement, and retention of women leaders and executives. Rebecca has coached and advised over a hundred leaders and executives and has enhanced their overall level of excellence in such areas as communications, strategic thinking, inclusive leadership, employee engagement, executive presence, and culture transformation.

Prior to starting her own company, Rebecca has worked for such premier organizations as General Motors, Fairchild Industries, and Amax Inc. as a senior executive in the leadership and human capital arena.

Rebecca has been showcased on CNBC, TED Talks, Fox News (New York), NPR, Washington Business, ABC, and numerous syndicated radio talk shows. She has been featured in publications such as: Leader to Leader, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Pink Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Rebecca is a known thought leader in the industry and is the author of two best seller books titled, “It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor” and “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton,” and her new book, “Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results,” all published by McGraw-Hill. Her books illustrate her unconventional and results-focused approach to creating great leaders.

Rebecca partners with a cross-section of clients such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, Dow Chemical, Hilton Worldwide, KPMG, Marriott International, IBM, Cisco, National Grid, Humana, HP, Intelsat, MedImmune, Microsoft, and J&J. She is a member of the National Press Club, the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on the Board of Visitors for Marymount University, on the Board of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, and on the Executive Board for the Virginia Women’s Center. Rebecca is also the Chairman of the Board of Young Women Lead and an Executive Partner for Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business, as well as on the Board of the Red Cross. Other accomplishments include recipient of the Smart CEO Brava! Award, Women Who Mean Business Award, Entrepreneur Organization of the Year Award, and Finalist for the Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award for Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Relations from Purdue University and a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Development from Marymount University.

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