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Looking around the corner with author Sally Helgesen

Posted By Robert Wray, Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Helgesen thoroughly engaged the audience when she began explaining the observations that went into her book, "The Female Vision: Unlocking Your Real Power at Work." This is one woman who definitely writes from experience with the mind of a scientific dynamo. 

Her own history comes in handy: After making the switch from being an independent writer/consultant to working for big companies, she noticed women weren't achieving the type of top positions they should be attaining, considering the value of characteristics they brought to the board room. 

She decided to research the roles women were playing in business environments and why they weren't at the executive level. "When senior managers were asked to list women's greatest positives in the workplace, women tended to be undervalued in terms of their vision, their strategy for the bigger picture and long-term focus," Helgesen says. That made her wonder if there was a different way women articulated their visions--one that might be lost in translation. 

Here's what she discovered: 

1. Women often notice things differently. That's right. It comes down to simple neuroscience: Females tend to notice a lot of things at the same time (radar), whereas a male's attention tends to be engaged in a more focused way (laser). 

2. Women tend to judge job satisfaction based upon the quality of their experiences everyday, not just their salaries. 

If you utilize and develop both radar- and focus-notice skills, primary leadership competency is sure to follow. You need to be able to "see around the corners" these days in order to anticipate and understand the needs of evolving  markets, and cross-market to them. 

Women are naturally gifted in this way and, as Helgesen points out, need to be more engaged in the workplace for their talents. "Organizations need to be more diverse in motivating people, making them feel valued in their work," she says. 

Articulate that vision! Leverage your allies. And always, remain present.

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