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February 19, 2014 Practice Points

Motivating Women for the Leadership Process

By Cassie Hanson

In a February 2014 article on The Glass Hammer, Lois Frankel examines the need to increase the percentage of women in high-level positions in companies and politics. Currently, only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and the 113th Congress saw a record number of women elected at 20 percent.

Frankel argues that we’ve reached a “turning point”—where people who have power no longer know how to use it to solve current problems, and won’t share that power with people who could help them. After noting the low statistics cited above, and referring to studies that have consistently found a correlation between high-level female executives and business success, Frankel argues that women hold the solution to this problem. For instance, women exceed men in four of the five facets of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. Furthermore, motivating today’s workforce requires a skillset largely possessed by women: encouragement, listening, collaboration, transparency, giving tough messages in tender ways, and enlisting support.

But how do we get women into these high-level positions to influence change? Frankel points out that neither politics nor corporate life are particularly hospitable to women because the burden of providing day-to-day care for children and aging parents more likely falls on a woman’s shoulders. Frankel states that the problem is convincing women why they want these roles. Frankel suggests that corporations must develop in-house policies and programs that provide employees, regardless of gender, with choices that enable them to make a meaningful contribution at work without sacrificing their personal lives.


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, high-level positions, leadership

Cassie Hanson works at Hinshaw & Culbertson in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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