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My response to  CNN Business Perspective piece, "Women are better leaders. The pandemic proves it."  


This recent 5 May 2020 article by Michelle P. King makes a case without realizing it for utilizing the skills of a process consultant and coach - female or male.  I say this because she discusses the gifts and then implementation of that which she describes as vital for those who feel the load to help their organization and team members succeed in this time.  Process consultants help leaders do this. 

King's article links to various studies that show that one's leadership effectiveness is measured especially during times of crises (like CoVid 19 and the subsequent swirling changes) by how much we prioritize relationships through deep listening, nurture and care for one's team, and create an equitable and safe culture for welcomed participation. 

The article suggests this crisis is one in which many women who are gifted in relational skills and cautious with risk-taking may be best equipped as the most effective leaders for our immediate needs. What do you think?  

The gendered nuances linked in the CNN Business Perspective article are interesting and the patterns and tendencies worth noting


So instead of which gender can lead most effectively now - can we commit to learn new skills to be more relational and at the same time invite others with more honed relational abilities to lead in the moment?  This does assume that our teams and boards and leaders are made up of differing talents and strengths as both women and men. 

The right question for the moment is not whether or not women are better leaders in crisis, but instead a series of three questions: 

  1. Am I beginning with authentic caring in my work relationships?

  2. What do I need to learn to be more compassionate, empathetic, and a deep listener to my team members?

  3. If the learning curve to be the relational leader needed now (and always) is steeper than will elicit authentic help in the moment, who else can I tag and invite to lead now who is more gifted with relational skills? (Do it!)

By nature I’m much more of a both/and sort of person. I bristle at either/or forced choices. A man here? A woman there? Instead, I believe from a process consultant’s view that we can choose to increase our effectiveness by learning from the likes of Edgar Schein, Patrick Lencioni, Amy Edmondson, and others to always first set the stage of our leadership with caring.  

  • To begin, we must believe that we can improve our participation in that which makes for effective leadership.  

  • We can assess within ourselves our current alignment with our organization’s mission to gauge whether we truly desire to make more of an impact. This desire will fuel our start toward finding the courage to discover what might need to change.  

  • If yes to these two questions, a leader might resolve to ask a trusted partner (like Design Group International) to walk alongside to help them to live into the adaptive space we all inhabit in this crisis.canva-image-1

Process consulting (crisis or not) values the transformational skills the article states women inherently possess more of but also walks along leaders according to the article’s definition of transactional help helping leaders create vision and determine what next needs to happen 

The importance of gender equity and inclusion referenced in King's article cannot be minimized. 

 I and any women reading this have experienced micro-aggressions while in leadership.  I am proud of the female leaders in New Zealand, GermanyTaiwan, and Norway who are seemingly making the right choices in this pandemic. I’m also thankful for all leaders- males included- who are working hard to arrest this pandemic.

I don’t think we all inherently possess the same gifts and strengths. But I bristle at either/or boxes of behavior Check or no markand instead encourage us to own what works in leadership and go after it.  

We can learn to pursue what works, what’s right, and get out of the way to let others shine when the skill needed for the moment may not be our strongest. The author of the CNN article discussed here closes with reiterating that one style of leadership will not get the job done. She states, “If we want to survive- and ultimately thrive- in the new normal, we should make sure women leaders are at the table.” Is your ‘table’ diverse? In what ways?  

Leaders need trusted helpers to provide the listening ear, work with you to create learning opportunities, and help you set up accountability measures to get where you and your organization identified they want to go.  

Give me or my colleagues a call to explore what this may look like. We are women and men. We work individually and in teams to best meet your needs. We care and we realize these are amazing times of new opportunities that can be your impetus to make lasting change in your work and world. Copy of Button


Dawn Yoder Graber
Post by Dawn Yoder Graber
May 8, 2020
Coach to Rising Women Executives & Energizing Educator for your Team’s Targeted Learning Opportunities.