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Learn to extend your Influence with Your Peers

Celebrating Female Leadership in a Horizontal Business LandscapeAdvances in technology have helped to create a business landscape that is totally interconnected; a landscape peppered with small companies that no longer rely on the old  “top-down” approach to management. While it is very important to listen to your boss, it is equally important to influence your peers, or what I like to call, influencing laterally.

If you’re a manager in today’s business world, you may be working with a team on the other side of the world. They may report to you but you’re not on the ground with them. You might never even meet them face to face. So, to be perfectly blunt, how do you get them to do what you want? After your weekly check in, how do you make sure that they don’t just hang up the phone and walk away?

Doing business these days is much more about collaboration and influence. It’s about influencing people to follow your lead as opposed to assuming they’re going to do it simply because you’re the boss.

Women are Well-Suited for this “Lateral and More Collaborative” Approach
Anybody can have a good idea and in this climate, anybody with a good idea can start a business. What this means is that we’re going to start seeing more diversity across the board and more women taking over executive and entrepreneurial leadership roles that have traditionally been reserved for men. That is a very good thing.

In their 2013 book The Athena Doctrine, John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio advocated for a more “feminine” approach to doing business; one in which communication, collaboration and partnership are key. Women lead differently than their male counterparts. They tend to be less risk tolerant, less likely to “bet the farm” and far more concerned with developing lasting relationships.

Because today’s global business model emphasizes a “lateral or horizontal” approach to management and is dependent on peer relationships, this type of leadership style is preferred. Contemporary corporate culture isn’t about who works for you or whom you work for. It’s about moving forward together in a way that is inclusive and community-oriented.

Women Still Face Obstacles
Unfortunately, female entrepreneurs don’t get funded nearly as much as their male counterparts. 5% of all female-led companies are funded, in contrast to 60% of companies with men at the helm.

There’s a reason for this: most venture capitalists are, and historically have been, men. The great business networks are dominated by men. The role models and mentors are all men. Until recently, there has been a major lack of networks specifically oriented towards female entrepreneurs. That’s all changing.

What Women Are Doing
During the recession, a lot of women left financial services and started their own companies or became consultants. Women are proactively aligning themselves with strategic partners and developing female-centered networking groups like Ellevate, a global women’s networking organization that provides female entrepreneurs and executives access to extraordinary women, events and other valuable resources.

Also, because women are naturally better at creating and maintaining relationships, they have those relationships to turn to when starting their own businesses or moving into a new industry.

The only reason we women are a little behind is because we got a later start than our male associates. Let’s all take a step forward and celebrate the female leaders who have influenced us in our lives by sharing this message with the important women in our lives today.

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