It’s Clear: Women Make Great Leaders

Jul 11, 2013 | Uncategorized

A blog in the Harvard Business Review (March 2012) by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman confirms what we, as women business owners, already know: women make great leaders. It’s clear here at NAWBO and in companies worldwide.

The blog was based on the authors’ survey data of 7,280 leaders in some of the most successful and progressive organizations in the world—public and private, government and commercial, domestic and international. The leaders were evaluated by their peers, bosses and direct reports on overall effectiveness as well as in 16 competencies shown to be most important to effectiveness—taking initiative, developing others, inspiring and motivating, pursuing their own development and more.

While the majority of leaders are still men, and the higher the leadership level, the more men there are, women score better in all but one of the 16 competencies, and in 12 of the 16, women score significantly better. These include stereotypical areas—“nurturing” competencies like developing others, building relationships, exhibiting integrity and engaging in self-development—but also in areas not traditionally considered female strengths—including taking initiative and driving for results.

At NAWBO, I have seen just how great women leaders are through our members and partners and our own board leadership. July marks a time of transition throughout our organization as NAWBO National and our chapters welcome new board members. It’s exciting to see what we have achieved throughout the past year and the two years I have been in this role, and to look at future opportunities and possibilities. I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to those who gave their passion, time, talent and resources during 2012-2013. I’d also like to congratulate the 2013-2014 board members who were installed today in Indianapolis. In this issue of Focus, you’ll meet new National Board Chair Billie Dragoo, who helped to build NAWBO’s largest chapter in the United States, NAWBO-Indianapolis, as well as her own a premier health care industry business, RepuCare.

As you know, this is also a time of transition for me personally as I prepare to leave my role of President and CEO at NAWBO this month. Some of the most amazing moments from the past two years I will take with me are of the tremendous women leaders I have engaged and collaborated with at NAWBO, in our corporate and affiliate partner companies and in Washington, DC. Your stories have inspired me, and will continue to, as I take this next step in my own leadership journey.

Naturally, “Women in Leadership” is also a major focus of the NAWBO Women’s Business Conference this October in Miami. We will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of H.R. 5050, legislation that NAWBO played a key role in passing, and weaving it through our keynotes and breakout sessions to help you become an even better leader and grow your business as a result. If you aren’t yet registered, we have extended Early Bird Registration until July 15th to give you more time to save $50 and automatically enter to win roundtrip airfare to and from Miami on Southwest Airlines. Register now at

Dr. Zenger, who co-wrote the Harvard Business Review blog, believes much of the success of women in leadership has to do with a change in style from command-and-control to more collaborative models that may play to our strengths. Women are better listeners, better at building relationships and more collaborative, which Dr. Zenger says allows us to better adapt to the demands of modern leadership. What do you think? What’s made you a successful woman leader? I’d love to hear from you!

—Diane Tomb, NAWBO National President & CEO

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