Advancing Women to the Boardroom

Executive Women May Be the Best for “Wicked” Problems

PwC UK collaborated with Harthill Consulting earlier this year to identify the leadership capabilities needed to transform organizations in the face of financial uncertainty and a less predictable world. Their report argues that operational experience alone will no longer guarantee success as a leader in the face of “wicked” problems that challenge the notion of business-as-usual, and they reference a “how we make sense of the world” framework called Action Logics to discuss what current leaders may find challenging and what “Strategists” have to offer when transformational leadership is needed.

Interestingly, PwC reported that the highest concentration of Strategists was found among the women profiled by Harthill (10% of the women were categorized as Strategists vs. 7% of the men) – no real surprise given that the capabilities of Strategists are closely aligned with the strengths many women bring to the table.

Work environments that support the development of Strategists are characterized by distributed leadership and collective problem-solving, and they are places where employees can bring their whole selves to work and where self-reflection is encouraged – characteristics that also make it easier for women to grow and be successful inside organizations. Traditional management structures, however, often force Strategists to operate outside of organizations as consultants and advisors, where they can work cross-functionally and with flexibility.

The challenge, according to PwC, is that transformational change must be led and supported from inside the organization in order to succeed. The report finishes with ten ways to create a culture where Strategists can be developed and retained.

PwC UK. (2015). The hidden talent: Ten ways to identify and retain transformational leaders.
More on Action Logics:  Rooke & Torbert. (04/2005). Seven Transformations of Leadership. Harvard Business Review.

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