Women to Drive High Tech Growth

Women to Drive High Tech Growth

It seems that the global financial crisis is prompting a wide-ranging re-think on the role of women in leadership. The Shriver Report indicated that, in total, the US working populations are balancing out – with women now comprising 50% of the total for the first time ever. Yet, as Vivek Wadhwa points out, “There are too few women running high-tech companies; that’s too bad, considering evidence shows female-led businesses outperform those run by men.” But rather than waiting for the structural impact of women’s workforce participation to take effect at senior levels, women are, instead, taking matters into their own hands. Support networks and groups are being formed such as Women 2.0, Young Women Social Entrepreneurs and the Blogher network – complete with mentoring opportunities, professional networking events and conferences – and all this effort is now beginning to bear fruit. Research by Cindy Padnos, managing director of Illuminate Ventures, indicates that the performance of women in the enterprise – especially in startup businesses – has significant benefits. Not only are the high-tech companies that  women build more capital-efficient than the norm (with higher revenues and less committed capital), there are fewer failures: As the global economy regenerates, new business models are needed to stimulate economic and job growth. Investors seeking to reinvigorate bottom-line performance and to favorably impact the entrepreneurial strength of our economy would be wise to support strategies that enable high-tech start-ups that are inclusive of women entrepreneurs. But what it the opportunity for leaders? First, we need to acknowledge that we are not facing a recession – but a reset (as John Hope Bryant suggests)....

What Leaders Can Learn from Conan and Leno

Watching the way that NBC has been handling the Conan vs Leno debacle has me thinking … why do experienced leaders continue to make poor decisions when it comes to succession? Many organizations now have systems in place that help identify emerging leaders – the rock stars of our businesses – and opportunities and challenges are funnelled in their direction. With this comes responsibility, accountability – and hopefully mentoring and support. But all this is a two way street. If we expect accountability from our rising stars, we must also expect it of ourselves. When we are thinking through succession plans – we need to consider not just who’s coming in, but what’s going out. That’s right – when a leader leaves, it marks the end of an era. She will take with her, her whole way of doing business – and the impact of this will be felt right through your business. Perhaps NBC weren’t ready to deal with this type of wholesale change – communicating the way in which this transition would be handled should have been clearer, unambiguous and ongoing. Communications around succession needs to be handled over several months, and in some cases, one to two years. After all, we all crave security. Part of this stability comes from “doing what you say”. In NBC’s case, making an offer and then rescinding it has created confusion and uncertainty. Not only will this impact the financial performance of both shows (think of the advertisers and sponsors – or in your business, your various stakeholders), it also sends a morale breaking message to all your other up-and-coming...