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The Importance of Diverse Leadership

If you’re of working age, then at some point in your life you’ve had one or more horrible bosses. A commonality among many of those employers is that they lack emotional intelligence and thus they harbor the inability to look at employees from the perspective of “what can I do to help this person grow? What can I do to ensure they succeed and are happy at my company?”

A savvy business owner knows that two things are more central to their success than anything else: customers and employees.

The Importance of Diverse Leadership

It’s the customer who chooses to buy their product or service, and it’s the employee who acts as the liaison. They are the front man. The bridge to the customer’s positive or negative experience. Bad leadership fails to recognize this and often neglects these important keys to their success.

The leader with the heart to serve is the leader who interacts with all levels of employees and isn’t afraid to ask what they can do to make things better. A leader with the heart to serve is a leader who asks what they can do for others and not what others can do for them.

They don’t see themselves as superior and they value every member of their team and everything they do is with the good of their customers AND employees in mind.


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Bare Escentuals’ Leslie Blodgett

The former CEO and now executive chairman of beauty giant Bare Escentuals, Leslie Blodgett, is an awesome example of a leader with a serving heart. For years, she’s regularly engaged with her customers and employees. She’s been known to visit her stores all over the country, but what’s more inspiring is that she’s never been afraid to get behind the counter or help out a customer with a consultation herself.

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Leslie is a prime model of excellence when it comes to leading in a positive and effective way. From the get-go, Leslie has encouraged employees to approach everything with a heart that is eager to please and to serve. In fact, Bareminerals takes things a step further with their idea of the “girlfriend experience”, where boutique employees are encouraged to grow meaningful and deep relationships with every woman that sits in their chair. They look at them and treat them as if they were a best friend. They listen to their customer’s stories. Their joy, their excitement, their woes. That’s the Girlfriend Experience, and it’s a beautiful idea of the bond that can exist between customer and employee.

Thanks to their emphasis on the importance of relationships, they retain a high number of loyal (many even fanatical) customers who come back time and time again. Few cosmetic brands and stores are able to do that.

Leslie’s business model is successful because it is people centered and focuses on the question “What can I do for someone else?”

There are many women whose lives have been touched by their experiences with the boutiques, and that is worth more than millions of dollars in advertisements.


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Siebert Brandford Shank & Co.’s Suzanne Shank

Co-owner and founder of finance firm Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., Suzanne Shank is an extraordinary woman of note. More than 850 billion in municipal financing has been managed under her leadership.  She’s been featured on Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Black Enterprise and more for her amazing ability to lead and give back to the community.

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Suzanne helped to co-found a summer internship program called the Detroit Summer Finance Institute for high school students who want to be successful in the finance field. The program is focused towards inner-city students, helping to expose them to municipal finance jobs.  She’s passionate about helping to create new opportunities for these children because when she was young, she didn’t have a solid direction to go.

She started off as a woman in STEM, but soon learned that she wasn’t very passionate about engineering (which she went to school for).  Suzanne was able to take her STEM knowledge and apply it to her business model and is widely considered an industry guru and success.

She is an inspiration to women in the finance industry.


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Why Women In Business Are the Driving Force Behind This Concept

We thrive on community as a species, and companies that understand this are utilizing female leadership. According to an infographic by Washington State University, women in leadership roles tend to have awesome people development skills, are great at communication and utilize participatory decision making. Of course, there are men out there who possess these specific qualities as well,  likewise, there are some women who possess none of them. Either way, those skills are essential to any business, and they also come with being a leader with the heart to serve.

This is certainly not to say that men can’t be good leaders, in fact, studies prove that businesses benefit from involving both sexes. It showed that gender diverse retail companies ‘ average revenue are 14% more profitable than those who aren’t. That’s a significant enough statistic to ignore if you’re a business owner and want to improve sales.

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With the growing number of women in leadership positions, we’re seeing major shifts in management style away from the Machiavellian “my way or the highway” to “let’s figure out how to meet in the middle”. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo (and a mother, herself), perfectly embodied this by giving female employees longer paid maternity leave (male employees also received longer paternity leave).  This wasn’t a move focused solely on company profits, but on the wellbeing of the mothers and fathers-to-be.

Leslie Blodgett and Marissa Mayer are only two examples of a rapidly growing list of women that are making massive strides in the business community, both in the way they connect with customers and the way they treat their employees.

We’ve passed an exciting milestone as a society, and because of that we should prepare to witness innovation and social movements on a massive scale. Gender diversity is key in creating a positive future and healthy economy, which is why businesses need to step up their game.

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