Day approaches, take a minute and ask a mother what she spends most
of her day doing. Some things you're likely to hear: consensus-building,
recognition and reward, negotiation, planning, organization, collaboration
and of course, helping others reach their potential.
All are valuable skills needed in the workplace -- along with
a mother's daily admonitions to do the right thing.
Lyn Turknett, who develops programs to promote women's leadership,
says the skills a mother brings to her children every day are the
same ones that are needed now more than ever in a workplace struggling
to overcome business leader scandals.
In fact, Turknett says that even men's leadership skills can grow
after becoming a parent, because the experience adds ''breadth''
to their understanding of human nature and how to deal with others
in a positive way.
But Turknett says that it's because women in general -- whether
they are mothers or not -- are more ethical leaders that more companies
should be doing more to foster the rise of females in the executive
She said studies she and her husband, Bob, have done for their
Atlanta-based company that focuses on ethical leadership show women
are often more engaged with those in an organization, an important
characteristic for top executives.
''Women go out into the field more than men, and people (employees)
know who they are,'' Turknett says. ''They also tend to give more
feedback, both positive and negative. And that is helpful for the
long-term survival of an organization.''
In a survey of businesswomen by the Simmons School of Management
and Hewlett-Packard, 95 percent of respondents said the most important
way they pursue power is through producing results, or by forming
critical relationships from teams, co-workers, or other business
Further, 80 percent of those women said they liked what they could
accomplish with their executive power, and were comfortable with
''I do think women are ready to step up and lead, and it's what
we need more of these days,'' Turknett says. ''Probably the only
area they still need to work on is being willing to engage in conflict.''
Still, even though women are ''well represented'' in midlevel
management ranks, only 11.2 percent of corporate officers are women,
says Turknett. But, women continue to head their own companies,
with women-owned firms representing 38 percent of all companies,
reports the National Foundation of Women Owners.
''When we look at our research, women do significantly better
in a number of areas, including integrity. The one thing that men
always score higher on is self-confidence,'' Turknett says. ''What
often holds women back is their extreme humility.''
Turknett says that any organization wanting to build an ethical
and strong leadership must foster an atmosphere where any employee
is willing to challenge the ethics of any action. When employees
are made to feel responsible for the success of a company, then
a climate of decency and respect is more likely, she says.
But how, exactly, can a leader -- male or female -- show greater
respect on the job for others? Turknett suggests:
- Meeting with employees a level below for ideas and feedback.
- Using cross-training and job swapping to develop employee understanding
for other workers' duties and perspectives.
- Moving frontline supervisors to other departments for an entire
year to fully experience the challenges of that position.
- Putting fun and creative rewards into place to recognize outstanding
employee effort and achievement.
Anita Bruzzese is author of “Take This Job and Thrive,” (Impact
Publications). Write to her c/o: Business Editor, Gannett News Service,
7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, Va., 22107. For a reply, include