03/20/2013 12:16 pm ET Updated May 20, 2013

Women Lead and Show the Way

A new book for working women launched in March, Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. (Peter Lang, 2013)

Women Lead did not garner the major media press given to Sheryl Sandberg's book, but it is certainly reaching the hearts and minds of working women in America. The book stemmed from two research studies conducted in 2012; a quantitative study of over 3000 men and women managers in the U.S. and interviews with over 200 women leaders in a variety of industries across the U.S. on their perspectives on women, leadership and careers.

The book discusses how women are redefining career and leadership in ways that propel organizations toward more open, innovative and competitive business practices. There are practical lessons and tips for women entrepreneurs in all industries and business sectors.

The book outlines four key findings:
  1. Women leaders are in demand and key for future growth.
  2. Women are future problem solvers and future negotiators.
  3. Women are have pioneered and redefined the new career path through the labyrinth.
  4. Continuous education is key to 21st Century career development

Women are in demand and key for future growth. The book emphasizes that women are not only half the workforce, but are more likely to enroll in college and pursue advanced degrees, qualify for more occupations and have more career options than men.

The studies in the book found that when women and men ranked each other and themselves against 21st Century leadership attitudes and characteristics, women ranked women high on all 10, but men did not necessarily rank men higher. When evaluated from a generational viewpoint the researchers found that generation X and Y (under age 50) were gender agnostic leaving the population that potentially perceives gender leadership differences to a segment of boomer men. When the researchers analyzed the perceptions from this segment, the results suggested that women are people-oriented while men are risk takers.

In a 21st century knowledge economy, leaders need to be adept at both.

Women as future problem solvers and negotiators. The book discusses differing findings in negotiation outcomes between the qualitative study and the quantitative study. The quantitative study found that men scored higher in negotiation skills than women. The qualitative study however found women to be stronger with problem solving and complex negotiations that require preparation, listening skills and, satisfying multiple stakeholders but do not excel in negotiation for salary, job moves, or titles. The interviewees suggested that women can benefit from learning how to self-promote to ensure fair salary, job advancement and future job opportunities.

Women have pioneered and redefined the new career path referred to as the labyrinth. The book dedicates a few chapters to how women, both corporate and entrepreneurs, are managing their 21st century careers, discussing concepts such as happenstance, encore careers, reshaping work, family life and retirement. The interviewees note that women excel in managing multiple career stops and starts. The book includes voices of women from three generations carefully noting that no two lives are the same and women by supporting women will help them discover and pursue more options and find their inner passion.

Continuous education is key to 21st century career development. The book noted that the top leadership requirements needed across all industries (information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, services, and telecommunications) and paths (corporate, entrepreneurs, business owners, and professional independents) are excellent communication and problem solving skills. The researchers found that in both studies continuing education was seen as a key requirement for every phase of an employee's work life.

Women Lead is a thorough look at the lives of modern working women today offering key advice and wisdom from women for women, and is an inspiration to all generations in the workforce.

Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on women, the workplace, and careers. Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program.