The Three Hard Skills Women Aspiring to Leadership Need
Recently, I joined 5000+ women at the 25th Annual Professional Business Women of California Conference. The event was truly awe-inspiring; you can't get that many women together and not feel the energy in a room. The keynote speakers were exceptional -- ranging from veteran Madison Avenue legend Charlotte Beers andNational Geographic explorer Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Arianna Huffington and Diane Keaton. There were also numerous concurrent sessions and it was wonderful to see Mark Gerzon fearlessly leading a session on global citizenship -- an area I too am deeply passionate about. Got to love any man willing to show up and speak up at a women's conference.
Over-Networked and Under-Influencing
Long bathroom lines aside, the event was an incredible success and one that I look forward to every year. This event, though, like Maria Shriver's Annual Women's Conference when she was First Lady of California, always leave me wondering if we're really doing enough to prepare the next generation of women to lead. To be sure there is no shortage of attention on these issues as the numerous women's conferences and networking events attest. And for all the collective energy and millions of dollars spent on women's leadership efforts, widespread mainstream media attention and numerous books on the subject, have we really moved the conversation forward? Are we having any impact?
I've been actively engaged in the women's leadership space for the past several years in large part by accident. I've spent most of my career in male dominated fields --government, law enforcement, cyber security, foreign policy and global issues -- working mostly in male-dominated societies in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Most of those who have encouraged me, pushed me to be better and promoted me have been men with the rare exception being when I worked for Charlotte Beers during her tenure at the State Department. So when I was asked by the Hult International Business School to develop a course on women's leadership for their Dubai campus, I agreed on two conditions:
First and foremost, men need to be in the room. If we want this movement to go anywhere, men need to be involved. And second, the entire course had to be focused on practical skills that every student, male and female, could immediately put to work in their respective leadership paths. A series ofhard skills that anyone who has succeeded in any leadership role practices every day though few talk about.
Mining the Gaps: What's Missing in the Women's Leadership Movement