answers the question “How do we best develop women leaders?” with practical solutions drawn from current literature and the author’s personal interviews with high-achievers in major US companies and universities.
organization today, women leaders will help drive
business growth and improved performance. Anna Marie
Valerio's Developing Women Leaders is
a practical guide that helps organizations not only
to achieve this growth objective, but also to create
the right opportunities for talented women to develop
their careers and to advance within that company."
– Nancy McKinstry , Chief Executive
Officer and Chairman of the Executive Board, Wolters
thoughtful and thought-provoking book is essential
reading for anyone who cares about the development
of the next generation of leaders, regardless of
gender. As a female president and CEO in a historically
male-dominated industry, I recognize the value and
insights offered in the book, and applaud the proactive
approaches to gender issues in the workplace."
– Nancy Hill , President-CEO, American
Association of Advertising Agencies
Women Leaders is a trove of useful advice
for the advancement of women. Many talented women
whose careers have stalled at mid-management can
apply the book's strategies to move into top-level
careers. Women and men benefit when we have the
most talented people leading organizations. Valerio
offers something for everyone. There are great "tips"
for women who want to advance their careers, administrators
who control access to the top, and for human resource
departments that can help to increase the number
of women in leadership positions."
– Diane F. Halpern , Claremont
Book Review By CEO Forum Group
The goal of increasing the proportion of women in leadership positions is one many organizations have adopted as a matter of principle. Just how this should be done, however, has proved a little more elusive. Fortunately, this recent book by US author and consultant Dr. Anna Marie Valerio has much to offer.
A strength of the book is its organisation. The early chapters of the book but the task of developing women leaders in its broader social and historical context. In particular, Valerio highlights how, since the 1970s in particular, women have come to assume an increasingly greater share of the graduate market (in the US, for instance, women earn a majority of college and masters degrees, a situation not dissimilar to Australia). This leads to a simple but compelling argument: if women make up a large proportion of the talent available for leadership, it seems only common sense to make sure the leadership of the organisation reflects this over time.
Another key part of the ‘scene setting’ performed by the author, is defining the nature of leadership. The author reviews some of the most recent research literature on leadership, and concludes that the qualities that make up effective leadership: “intelligence, sociability, assertiveness, conscientiousness, integrity, and the ability to inspire” are ones both sexes can demonstrate. In this sense, the leadership challenge faced by both men and women is similar: “understand their strengths and ‘challenge areas’ to achieve greater self-awareness and self-management – hallmarks of good leaders everywhere.”
Having established the relevant context, the rest of the chapters are practical suggestions for three groups: CEOs and HR executives, line managers, and women aspiring to leadership positions. Many of the suggestions for CEOs will be familiar, such as: communicate a commitment to diversity, dedicate budget and resources, measure diversity performance, set up mentoring network, and provide stretch assignments for developing woman candidates. The reader does benefit, however, by having these and other suggestions integrated into a cohesive policy framework, and the discussion of policy is enlivened by snippets from leading companies recent experience.
What changes can we expect to see in the short-term? Valerio notes that progress is a combination of factors operating at three broad levels: individual factors (e.g. women’s educational attainment, career aspirations); organisational factors (e.g. vision and culture, HR policies) and societal factors (e.g. public policy, role of professional and public interest organisations). “The future of women’s leadership cannot just rest on the ambitions of a segment of the female population or on the desire of organisations to create wealth and do the right thing.” In a brisk, concise (around 160 pages) Valerio has given a good overview of what needs to be done to advance the issue.