Leaders of the Future: Women?

There is a growing conversation that the majority of the leaders in the future will be women. It is not a gender bias, but rather an observable and documentable fact that women are emerging as the more prepared and more aligned demographic with the growth sectors of the economy.

It is not a revolution, but an evolution. Here are a few facts:

  • This year, for every two men who will receive a B.A. from the college of their choice, three women will do the same.
  • Of the 15 high growth job sectors, women are the primary employee (except for two).
  • In the recent recession, 75% of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men–as they tend to work in industries most impacted by the economy (such as construction, manufacturing and finance). Some of those jobs will come back–how many?
  • One in five men of prime working age is not working today (compared to 1 in 20 in 1950).
  • The last presidential election had a woman as VP candidate and another who lost the primary bid in a tough race.
  • Today, women are the majority (just over 50%) in management and professional jobs, including accounting, insurance and banking.
  • Today’s economy values intelligence (equally distributed to both genders) and also communication skills and emotional intelligence (found more often in women).

Source: “The End of Men“, The Atlantic, July 2010

What is to be learned from this? Primarily, women are succeeding not because they are women, but because of their skill sets and preparedness. In other words:

  1. Be a part of a growth industry or innovate in the one you are in.
  2. Get an education-it is necessary to qualify for desirable jobs.
  3. As a leader, be a good coach. Listen, have a game plan, then let your players implement while you encourage from the sidelines.
  4. Learn to communicate effectively–to persuade, not demand.
  5. Cultivate and mentor strong women in your organization–grow the people who will help your organization achieve.
  6. Encourage and mentor young people in these skills–especially men for whom it may come less naturally.

We have known for years that women are becoming the drivers of the economy, make most (over 80%) of buying decisions and hold the majority of the wealth. Now with barriers to education and working removed, they are pursuing the American dream for themselves–not attached to a male partner. Scary? Maybe. But we can help even out the trends. I, for one, value the interplay of the genders in social and business settings and believe both have much to contribute. I have met many incredible young men with great potential. And I have two sons!

So all of us, men and women, need to adopt a position of life long learning as leaders, and reach a hand back to others, and mentor them in the world they are entering so they are prepared to excel.

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