February 21, 2017

Expert: 4 leadership traits of successful women in business

Joann S. Lublin, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal, shared stories from her book at the Midyear Meeting in Miami on Friday, Feb. 3.  She spoke to a standing room only audience about the 52 women featured in her book, “Earning it: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.”

Lublin said the book, published last fall by HarperCollins, grew out of a first person essay entitled, “Remember the Barriers,” she wrote in 2008 for a now defunct Wall Street Journal blog called Journal Women. . At the time, her daughter was about to enter the workforce and Lublin wanted her to understand the challenges she had endured when she entered the journalism profession in the early 1970s.

“I wanted her to know that yes things were going to be easier and better for her as a young woman than they had been for me, but not everything had changed for the better,” Ludlin said. “And she needed to understand where I had come from so that she could be better prepared as a young woman entering the workforce.”

 “As I look back on the book it became clear to me there were four reasons that explained why these women became such successful leaders,” Lublin reflected. She said the women shared some aspect of resilience, innovation, persistence and empathy.

Lublin gave the audience an overview of how each trait played out in the stories of four women.

The women were: Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.: Ellen Kullman, former CEO of DuPont Co.: MaggieWilderotter, executive chairman and former CEO of Frontier Communications Corp.: and Anne Stevens, former CEO of Carpenter Technology Corp.

Lublin offered what she called, “four takeaway leadership lessons” based on the lives of the four trailblazing women.

  • Whitman was used as Lublin’s resilience example. The take away from her story detailed in the book was: “We need to learn from our occasional backward falls so we can avoid making that same mistake twice. At the end of the day courage is incredibly important in your personal life and in your professional life,” Lublin said.

  • Kullman was the example for innovation. The lesson learned from having interviewed Kullman was: “It’s important that you grab a chance to innovate when you get the new role especially if it plays to your strengths, but more importantly when you’ve got a fallback position,” Lublin said.

  • Wilderotter was Lublin’s persistence example. The lesson learned: “It’s important that we not be discouraged by the occasional roadblocks what you have to do is look for a fresh way around them and then to persevere,” Lublin shared.

  • Stevens was Lublin’s empathy example. The lesson learned: “It’s not enough to be empathetic to identify and understand what people who work for you are going through you need to be an empathetic listener because empathetic listening is going to signal your willingness to collaborate with your colleagues and to help them succeed. And in return those who you help are going to root for your success, men and women alike,” Lublin said.

 “And you put them together and you have a RIPE successful career,” Lublin said. “I wish you all ripe success.”

The program, “Present and Powerful,” was sponsored by GPSolo WIN (Women’s Initiative Network and the Law Practice Division ABA Women Rainmakers Committee.