OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD
How Women Corporate Directors Succeed
by Elizabeth Ghaffari
Young business woman:
A primary audience for Outstanding in Their Field is the younger business woman (aged 25 to 44 years old) who is searching for exemplary business women of achievement as role models. She wants to see how other women built satisfying careers. At this stage, many women make their first crucial decisions which determine whether or not they become "board-worthy" businesswomen. Many of these young women are in management programs, while others are considering economics, finance, law and other "nontraditional" educational choices that might help them prepare for a career in business. The book speaks to the next generation of women to inform them how they could prepare themselves for leadership, over the long term.
Mature business woman:
Another key audience for the book is the mature business woman (45 to 64 years of age) who is considering a board role. She is evaluating her current career investments with a greater knowledge of the lessons available from other successful women, ready to explore choices that will enhance her strengths. At this level, women have more choices than ever before to "stay in the game" and pursue the many and varied top career opportunities that will enhance their value as leaders. Many women at this stage are becoming active in professional affinity groups, forming Women’s Advisory or Initiative Networks with the help and sponsorship of their corporation. The importance of mixed-gender professional groups, to help women focus on the skills and competencies they need to develop or refine, will enable them to take on corporate roles and responsibilities that will lead to board-level service.
An interesting surprise in the development of this book was the positive, enthusiastic response from men in business and in leadership. Men on corporate boards are looking for talented women to help chart their firms' course toward sustainable prosperity. Men are fathers to young women whom they hope will never feel the sting of outrageous discrimination. Men in management are struggling with how to motivate, incentivize and encourage the next generation of women to accept the baton of partnership and leadership. Men at home watch their spouses struggle to learn the ropes and navigate the mysteries of business, hierarchies, and organizational behavior. These and many other good men like them are the ones who first opened the doors and welcomed talented, able, and willing women to be partners in today's 21st century business team. They are readers, book givers, and mentors for the next generation of women in leadership.
Even in the bottom of a recession, companies continue to face the challenges of recruiting, training, retaining, and promoting the best women candidates. This book provides a unique perspective, challenging both women at work and their corporate leadership to "think differently" about what they expect of each other and how they are creating valuable career pathways for women who aspire to leadership. If corporations, and their women’s networking groups, are offering programs oriented to "ancient myths" and "old wives’ tales" of last century’s women in business, then they will not be providing the motivation or incentives required by this century’s business woman. Outstanding in Their Field can help companies ensure that 100% of the leadership candidates withinn their organizations pursue their greatest potential.
Any person who speaks today to young girls (anywhere from 8 years of age and older) has an impact on their view of themselves in the future. This book demonstrates the positive impact that teachers, parents, friends, family business interests, sports, news and media all can have on young girls and their expectations for themselves. When we talk with young girls, we can start them thinking early on that they are as good as anyone else, that they are part of a majority, that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to accomplish rather than wait to have the world and its largesse handed to them like a silver slipper from some prince charming. This book gives influencers and educators insight into how they might inspire young girls to pursue their rightful share of opportunities.
In our business and law schools, or even in our colleges and universities, we have an opportunity to discuss the topics presented in this book and to ensure that women are actively involved in the debate about the issues that impact them. Governance is something that must be taught. This book provides a number of small business case studies, and raises interesting questions about career paths and leadership –- discussions that would benefit women and men in classrooms.
How do women view leadership? How do women view entrepreneurship opportunities? How do women build teams? How are women building boards of directors? or leadership circles? How effectively are women partnering with others in business -– both genders? How are women investing and where? Women and men gain great insight from their earliest experiences sharing perspectives on these and other business subjects. Are we doing everything required to foster a constructive, creative, and respectful dialog on these topics?
Journalist, editors, radio and TV commentators, and bloggers deliver an excess of ancient stereotypes of women in business. Every pedantic pun, trite headline, or metaphorical phrase that demeans or denigrates women in any form casts a shadow over the future of young women and mature women who simply wish to pursue their personal best in a business world. Every single day, every individual member of the media has a choice of how he or she will present women of achievement. Every single night, when they go home to family and friends, they will be remembered for the respect they showed to the accomplished women who crossed their path that day, or lack thereof.
NEW: For your Book Reading Group or Club: Discussion Questions -- a list of questions developed in collaboration with reading groups to help foster new and insightful discussion on different aspects of "women in leadership".