What makes the companies deemed the best companies to work for so exemplary? The answer is rather simple -- it's relationships. The best companies create the means for people to build strong, numerous and rewarding personal relationships AT WORK! An article in Fortune summed it up perfectly: "the simple secret of every great place to work: It's personal -- not perkonal. It's relationship-based, not transaction-based."
The good news: Women are superbly adept at building relationships. Organizations have figured out what we have known for centuries -- it's all about relationships. Work is a relationship, not a transaction. Going forward, it will be more and more difficult for companies with transaction-based cultures to attract and retain the best talent.
According to Fast Company, the new corporate MVPs are not those with the best ideas. The most valuable players are those who can harvest the best ideas from others. With the NBA playoffs underway, I thought it would be appropriate to look at who the new MVPs of the corporate world are.
The answer is women!
For many years, the MVPs were knowledge workers -- those people who had superior technical skills. The best accountant, the best doctor, the best lawyer and so on. But the world is changing and knowledge is becoming a commodity.
The new MVPs -- women -- are skilled at collaborating, team building and creating organizational cultures that attract and maintain the best talent that can drive results. Along with improved team dynamics, one of the chief motivators for people in organizations is the feeling of being respected and helped by their peers. These so called "soft skills" are the new competitive advantage.
Today personal and organizational competitive advantage is based on three ingredients: competence (technical skills) + confidence in yourself + your ability to build positive, strong relationships.
The question is how do women use these skills to our benefit? We need to be asking "Am I good at using my relationship skills to recruit talented people into my life and into my company? Am I the type of person others want to recruit into their lives and organizations?
Perhaps you are in an old organization with old ways of thinking. So how do you get new leadership -- the kind of leadership we as women are best at -- into old organizations? The most important thing to remember is change happens collaboratively which means we can't lead change alone. You've got to look at change like a social movement -- it should spread and seep into the organization.
Secondly, consider the idea that someone else might be better-suited to introduce my new ideas. I'm not always the best spokesperson for my own great ideas. In fact, most of the time, when I invite someone else to speak my truth to others, the outcome is better and more sustainable.
Companies have awakened to what it takes to be great places to work -- positive, strong and productive relationships. In large measure, women are poised to deliver exactly what the world and organizations want most. Fortunately, the pipeline for female leaders is widening. Women have made significant gains in educational attainment in recent decades, better positioning themselves not only for career success, but to succeed in leadership positions.
Dr. Bernice Ledbetter is Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on leadership and values, especially gender differences, as well as on moral developmental and non-western approaches to leadership. Dr. Ledbetter was recently awarded a grant from Pepperdine University to start the Center for Women in Leadership.
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