Winning leadership teams translate into winning businesses―both in terms of financial returns and overall business performance. Firms achieve winning leadership teams by ensuring all the right leadership characteristics are well-represented within their ranks. The only way to do that is to create teams with the right balance of men and women.

While that balance could be 50/50, it could also be some slight variation of that mix―weighted either way. Essentially, for your firm to be successful you must have the right balance of men and women in leadership roles to cover all the characteristics that drive success.

In my previous post, I shared how gender balance is more than the right thing to do. It’s a necessary, deliberate, and vital strategic imperative for any firm that wants to be successful today and into the future. In this post, I’m going to explain what makes a winning team and how to achieve it through gender balance.

What makes a winning leadership team

There are a number of characteristics that, when combined, constitute a winning leadership team. These characteristics include decisiveness, collaboration, analytical thinking, empathy, risk-taking, and inclusiveness. Some of these characteristics are considered masculine, such as risk-taking, while others are considered feminine, such as empathy for others. The most important element in winning leadership teams is to effectively blend winning characteristics to achieve better collective decision-making. The easiest way to do that is to make sure there is a balanced number of men and women on the team.

There’s now a wealth of data that shows blended teams are more effective teams. Morgan Stanley’s probe into the relationship between gender balance and team effectiveness concludes that blended teams improve decision-making and product innovation, as well as drive better alignment between company and customers―which leads to new business opportunities.

Three more good reasons to bring more women into leadership

In a recent Forbes.com post, leadership development firm Zenger Folkman’s CEO Jack Zenger provided three good reasons for including more women in the leadership ranks:

  1. Women are highly qualified. Zenger’s firm analyzed 60,000 leaders in its database and found women outperformed men in 12 out of 16 measured competencies.
  2. Women are more likely to take advantage of ongoing development opportunities. Zenger Folkman’s data analysis revealed that, while men and women give equal attention to learning and personal development early on in their careers, after the age of 40, women continue to maintain this effort while men’s efforts tend to decline―resulting in a 10-point spread by age 61.
  3. Organisations benefit financially from a mixed gender workplace. Zenger cites a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that indicates changing from all-male or all-female to a 50/50 gender balance in the workforce could boost a firm’s revenue by as much as 41%.

In my next post, I’ll explain how you can work with your firm to build gender balance into your leadership ranks.

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