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Women On The Leading Edge


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How women are poised to succeed in an interconnected industry

Published in: Business

Women On The Leading Edge

  1. 1. Embrace the Exponential INTERNET OF THINGS How women are poised to succeed in an interconnected industry LEADING EDGE WOMEN ON THE
  2. 2. IoT is a scenario in which objects, locations, and people, each with unique identifiers, have the ability to transfer information over a network without interacting with another person or machine. Integrating sensors, devices, and networks enables our lives in new ways—from improving our physical well-being through the connectivity of wearable fitness trackers, to easing our lifestyles through connected appliances, vehicles, and other types of technology on which we’ve come to rely. Organizations are taking advantage of the benefits of IoT by exploring how connected, smart technology can enhance patient welfare in hospitals, protect workers in manufac- turing environments, and create wholly new business efficiencies in supply chain management—among other values. The value that IoT can bring to individuals and enterprises alike has created a market for innovation; IoT is projected to be a net creator of jobs—to the tune of 4.5 million— by 2020.2 For the evolving technology industry, which is projected to encapsulate nearly 75 percent of new STEM jobs through 2020, it will be crucial to identify the right leaders to guide this new workforce. Successful IoT solutions provide creative integration of technology, data science, security, and user engagement to solve problems and provide new services. Developing such solutions requires a particular set of attributes, such as strong partnerships, high-quality user experiences, multi-faceted value propositions, multi- purpose technology, and the ability to balance evolving and unknown challenges. To maintain their competitive edge, We are experiencing a rapid shift in tech- nology that is changing the way we exist in the world. As the technology industry evolves toward full-scale adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), there is an entirely new set of demands to compete in the global innovation market. Leading the workforce of the future in these innova- tive fields requires an increasingly unique set of skills. In addition to the depth of technical rigor traditionally required to lead in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, leaders must have emotional intelligence, communica- tion, and management skills to succeed in our increasingly connected society. Whether by nature or nurture, studies have found that women by far outrank men in measures of these essential “soft skills.”1 IoT provides an opportunity for underrepre- sented populations in STEM leadership— women—to find new value in their industry contributions. Widespread initiatives to integrate women into the workforce, including campaigns to promote the feminization of labor and early STEM education initiatives, have sparked a national conversation. However, evolving industry needs require us to mature past awareness of the gender gap at the top level of STEM fields and target the right kind of leaders to spearhead innovation. Much like the convergent nature of IoT, transcending traditional gender constructs in the technology industry’s leadership will require fundamental changes in the way we think and operate; it will require us to rebuild an agile, integrated, and connected industry model that allows our busi- nesses—and our people—to thrive. SUCCESSFUL IoT SOLUTIONS THRIVE IN AN ECOSYSTEM OF CONSTANT INNOVATION 1
  3. 3. employers need to fill their pipeline with high-innovation potential leadership. Specifically, tech companies across the board must fill a major gap in the industry’s existing leadership population: in addition to technical experts, companies need leaders with non-traditional yet essential leadership characteristics such as self-awareness and higher-order thinking. By arming their first line of leadership with “social architects,” or leaders who will shape the context in which others are able and willing to innovate together, companies have a shot at unleashing their workforce’s collective genius.3 “An exciting paradigm shift is occurring across the technology industry,” said Susan Penfield, Executive Vice President of Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group. “As IoT becomes the norm, what were traditionally considered ‘feminine’ leader- ship characteristics, such as connectivity and communication, are increasingly in demand. Leaders who embody these characteristics are essential to build the interoperable workplace of the future.” How do companies target leaders with the specific characteristics needed to build their innovation ecosystem? A good place to start is by examining the diversity of skillsets of top-level leaders. Female leaders rank higher in building cooperative environ- ments and working out compromises; they also excel in “soft power” (the ability to lead through persuasion rather than coercion), among other key traits of collaborative and reciprocal relationships.4 These characteristics are essential to leaders who will shape organizations for successful innovation in our connected society. “As IoT becomes the norm, what were traditionally considered ‘feminine’ leadership charac- teristics, such as connectivity and communication, are increasingly in demand.” —SUSAN PENFIELD Booz Allen Hamilton 2
  4. 4. Research has shown that women often excel in roles that require building relation- ships, networking, and mediation because they place more value on these interper- sonal relationships. Female leaders also rank higher than their male counterparts in key leadership characteristics such as working out compromises, being honest and ethical, mentoring employees, orga- nizing, and exercising soft power.5 Though not an exclusively female trait, women are more inclined than men to use soft power through tools such as discussion, engage- ment, and inclusion. Leadership styles often characterized as “feminine” may be exactly what the technology industry needs to guide connectivity across the corporate structure. Numerous studies show that companies with diverse leadership out-innovate and out-perform their competitors.6 Senior leadership with diverse sets of experi- ences, perspectives, and backgrounds are better equipped to build a culture of community that cultivates innovation based on the availability of unique ideas.7 Studies show six leadership behaviors unlock innovation: “ensuring that everyone is heard; making it safe to propose novel ideas; giving team members decision- making authority; sharing credit for success; giving actionable feedback; and implementing feedback from the team.”8 “Promoting individuals who embody traditionally ‘feminine’ leadership char- acteristics does not mean edging out the INTEGRATING WOMEN INTO TOP- LE VEL LE ADERSHIP MAY BE KE Y TO BUILDING CONNECTED ECOSYSTEMS 3
  5. 5. “Promoting individ- uals who embody traditionally ‘feminine’ leadership characteristics does not mean edging out the male competition… Rather, it means complementing the unique qualities of each individual to improve the group’s intelligence and effec- tiveness as a whole.” —ROSE SCHOOLER Intel Corporation 4 male competition,” said Rose Schooler, Vice President of Intel Corporation’s IoT Strategy. “Rather, it means complementing the unique qualities of each individual to improve the group’s intelligence and effec- tiveness as a whole. As technology leaders, we understand the necessity of integrated systems to build IoT solutions. We need to drive this same concept among our people to enable truly connected companies.” However, women in IT hold only nine percent of management positions and 14 percent of senior management posi- tions in Silicon Valley startups, while they maintain less than 25 percent of STEM jobs industry wide. Studies indicate that perceived gender differences, rather than leadership skill or ability, are the barriers to entry for women in the STEM C-Suite. Countless marketing campaigns have aimed to empower female leaders in an effort to increase female leadership in technology. Many of these efforts encourage women to adopt what are traditionally considered ‘masculine’ leadership characteristics, including aggression, authoritativeness, and deci- siveness,9 in an effort to rise in the industry ranks. Author Nina Power argues that when women (or men) demonstrate power by “behaving like a man,”10 it reinforces the traditional strength-based measures of power instead of recognizing the value in other leadership styles. Studies show that regardless of gender, leaders who demonstrate their strength without gaining the trust of others can undermine an organization’s creativity and cognitive potential, and cause employees to disengage. On the other hand, leaders who facilitate trust, communication, and information sharing among employees often generate measurably higher economic gains for their organizations.11 In addition to adding value to a company, female leaders may have the insight needed to help positively influence the culture and retain skilled female employees, a fleeing demographic in the technology workforce. Despite an increase in overall hiring, the 2015 STEM Index found the gender gap in STEM professions had widened even further since 2000.12 According to U.S. News & World Report, a job pool skewed heavily toward white males has put the United States at a disadvan- tage compared to international competitors trying to attract the same small pool of highly skilled workers.13 Studies show that talented women often feel stuck at lower- to mid-levels in STEM fields, and 54 percent of women leave their STEM jobs by their late thirties.14 Companies have realized this brain drain is an issue that needs to be resolved if they want to meet the need for 6.6 million open STEM posi- tions by 2022.15 According to a Harvard Business Review case study, “many women report ‘mysterious’ career paths, leading to a full 40 percent feeling stalled in their careers. Systems of risk and reward in [STEM] cultures can disadvantage women, who tend to be risk averse.”16 Fortunately, technological convergence is driving cultural change, and IoT may provide women with an opportunity to fill the industry’s need for a new kind of leadership.
  6. 6. IoT IS A PL ATFORM FOR WOMEN TO LE AD THE WAY TO A CONNECTED SOCIET Y Traditionally “feminine” leadership characteristics and IoT both comprise collaboration, connection, and high-level integration throughout an organization. In female leaders, these characteris- tics often manifest into actions such as networking with resources to identify and solve business needs and bringing together teams of matrixed, diverse staff—both of which are necessary to build successful IoT enterprises. The technology industry has noticed the value of this leadership style in a connected world. In a 2015 survey of nearly 3,000 Chief Information Officers (CIO), Gartner identified a “flip” in leadership attributes: vision and inspiration, not command and control, emerged as the most powerful leadership attributes in a digital world.17 Furthermore, the study found that 75 percent of CIOs plan to change their leadership style within 3 years by ampli- fying their vision (47 percent) and reducing their command and control (65 percent). “Every major technology company is building their brand of IoT solutions, and many have found that technical expertise and past successes do not always equate to good leadership in this new territory.” said Nyla Beth Gawel, Principal of Booz Allen’s IoT Initiative. “The successful ones recognized early on that emotional intelligence and communication are essential characteris- tics in the leaders they select to cultivate this change. These leaders are successful because they are able to build an ecosystem that integrates the technical and human expertise needed to build truly connected networks of innovation.” The technology companies that seek leaders with exceptional collaborative qualities will be the companies to succeed in the workplace of the future. Executives will be the glue in the connected workplace, and those with the ability to influence and lead through persuasion, rather than force, are uniquely positioned to create the right type of environment that breeds ideas and innovation. Female and male leaders who embrace their inherent soft power now will realize success in the connected enterprise structure—and many successful IoT leaders have already begun setting the tone of the IoT ecosystem. “Every major tech- nology company is building their brand of IoT solutions…The successful ones recog- nized early on that emotional intelligence and communication are essential charac- teristics in the leaders they select to cultivate this change.” —NYLA BETH GAWEL Booz Allen Hamilton 5
  7. 7. Interviews ROSE SCHOOLER Vice President Intel Corporation SUSAN PENFIELD Executive Vice President Booz Allen Hamilton NYLA BETH GAWEL Principal Booz Allen Hamilton Authors NYLA BETH GAWEL Principal ALISON JARRIS Associate 1. Pew Research Center, “Women and Leadership,” 2015 2. ReadWrite, “The Internet Of Things Will Need Millions Of Developers By 2020,” 2014 3. World Economic Forum, “Is this what it takes to be an innovative leader?,” 2016 4. STEMconnector, “STEM 2.0 — An Imperative For Our Future Workforce,” 2014 5. Harvard Business Review, “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation,” 2013 6. STEMconnector, “STEMconnector’s Innovation Task Force Releases STEM 2.0: An Imperative For Our Future Workforce,” 2014 7. Forbes, “Reaping The Benefits Of Diversity For Modern Business Innovation,” 2014 8. Forbes, “Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce,” 2011 9. Harvard Business Review, “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation,” 2013 10. University of Strathclyde Business School, “Gender differences vs gender diversity in leadership,” 2015 11. Zero Books, “One Dimensional Woman,” Nina Power 12. Harvard Business Review, “Connect, Then Lead,” 2013 13. U.S. News & World Report, “2015 STEM Index Shows Gender, Racial Gaps Widen,” 2015 14. U.S. News & World Report, “The Data Behind the 2015 STEM Index,” 2015 15. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, “Reaching the Full Potential of STEM for Women and the U.S. Economy,” 2015 16. Harvard Business Review, “The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology,” 2008 17. Gartner, “Executive Summary: Flipping to Digital Leadership: The 2015 CIO Agenda,” 2015 6
  8. 8. © 2016 Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. C.02.061.16 03/01/16 About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology for more than 100 years. Today, the firm provides management and technology consulting and engineering services to leading Fortune 500 corporations, governments, and not-for-profits across the globe. Booz Allen partners with public and private sector clients to solve their most difficult challenges through a combination of consulting, analytics, mission operations, technology, systems delivery, cybersecurity, engineering, and innovation expertise. With international headquarters in McLean, Virginia, the firm employs more than 22,500 people globally, and had revenue of $5.27 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. To learn more, visit (NYSE: BAH)