May 4, 2007

Staff Picks: See Jane Lead

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 3:22 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I've had this advanced copy on my desk for a while, and finally had the chance to page through it this morning. I'm always interested in business books directed specifically toward women in business. Sometimes these "girl power" books only reinforce unhealthy attitudes among female professionals who grumble about their minority status in male-dominated fields, yet fail to take action that promotes change. Other times they offer very useful, insightful ideas that can be appreciated--and implemented--by women and men alike. See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work and in Life by Lois P. Frankel, the author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, is about embracing the natural leadership skills women possess--which already match what is expected of leaders--and overcoming "self-sabotaging behaviors" that hinder their ability to move into management and leadership positions. Frankel covers a lot of territory in this book, from traditional (I might say archaic) views on women in leadership, to taking risks, to leading teams or becoming entrepreneurs, and finally bringing up the next generation of women. Here's a brief excerpt:
What Followers Really Want from Leaders
There is no shortage of books that describe the necessary qualities of successful leaders. From gurus like Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, John Kotter, and Max De Pree, we consistently hear that successful leadership includes the ability to:
  • Create a vision, align people behind it, and develop a plan for executing it.
  • Communicate in a way that inspires trust and confidence.
  • Motivate followers to sustain the effort required to meet organizational goals.
  • Build teams that understand and value interdependence and synergy.
  • Exhibit emotional intelligence.
  • Take risks that will benefit the organization.
  • Develop a strong network that will support goal attainment and professional success.
A close look at the list reveals that these behaviors are identical to the ones women routinely exhibit given their own socialization as nurterers, accommodators, and caretakers. It is precisely these factors that lead me to claim leadership is a woman's art.
The Publishers Weekly review had a great line about this book:
"Though much of Frankel's hard-earned wisdom could benefit the Dicks of the business world just as well as the Janes, this businessgirl-power manifesto is passionate, well-researched and authoritative."
For those who are facing gender and diversity challenges in the workplace, and even for those who are trying to mobilize their careers, this is definitely one of those books that has the potential to inspire action.