Women Have the Right Stuff to Survive the Downturn
Women are natural born leaders, according to a recent study on women’s leadership skills, and in these economic times the women in the building industry can draw on their inherent skills to carry them through the downturn.
Alicia Huey, AGH Homes
“We tend to have more reserves and are more resilient to push through adversity,” said Linda Hebert, president of Diversified Marketing & Communications based in Pleasanton, Calif. and an area trustee of the NAHB Women’s Council.
“Then we put it behind us with an, ‘I’m better than that,’ attitude. That’s because we draw strength from each other and don’t let each other give up. We have a broader network and support group and are not afraid to bounce ideas and talk through issues,” Hebert added.
One key management style noted in the Center for Women’s Business Research — that women emphasize relationship building and fact gathering, and are more likely to consult with experts, employees and fellow business owners than their male counterparts — is critical to surviving in today’s market, said Alicia Huey, president of AGH Homes, Inc.
Huey, the Women’s Council’s 2008 Woman of the Year, used her relationship-building skills to earn the 2008 BUILD-PAC Champion of the Year and was recognized at NAHB’s March Legislative Conference for raising the most money of all Champions in the shortest timeframe.
“We know how to get things done in a pinch — even when circumstances are not ideal,” said Huey, a board member on the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders. The Alabama HBA is sponsoring The Real Deal next week — Birmingham’s open house extravaganza featuring new and resale homes.
“We are mothers, wives, daughters, community leaders and we take care of our businesses, too,” said Huey. “It’s our innate ability to juggle these various roles and successfully figure out a way to accomplish everything.”
Huey, an NAHB national director, said that her participation in the Women’s Council has made the difference in helping her balance her business, community and personal responsibilities.
“I’ve been a member of a lot of groups, and I have never been in an organization that has been as supportive,” said Huey. She said ta he relationships she’s developed and the opportunities the council offers are invaluable.
“When you go to a Women’s Council meeting, there is someone who will listen — whether they are going through the same things or not — and help provide information and resources, which is essential in the down market.”
What Women Possess
According to the recent study, “The Qualities That Distinguish Women Leaders” — conducted by Caliper, a personality assessment and consulting firm in Princeton, N.J. — women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders.
Female leaders were also found to be more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts.
In fact, of the women business owners surveyed, the Center for Women’s Business Research found that 66% are willing to take above average or substantial risks for business investments.
“We sometimes forget that we have an edge on our male counterparts,” said Hebert. “When things get tough, men sometimes hold things in because they see it as an embarrassment or a failure,” she said. “However, women have an inherent ability to share and immediately talk it out and work through that situation through our support teams.”
The Caliper study assessed the potential of more than two million applicants and employees for more than 25,000 companies around the world.
The study determined that women leaders:
- Are more persuasive than their male counterparts. The study revealed that women leaders possess strong people skills, enabling them to assess the big picture in a situation accurately from all sides. They can then address a subject from their audience's perspective so the people they lead feel more understood, supported and valued.
- Feel the sting of rejection, learn from adversity and carry on with an “I’ll show you” attitude. Women showed a healthy level of resilience and tended to possess strong intrapersonal skills — empathy, flexibility and sociability — which gives them the unique ability to learn and bounce back from disappointment, rejection and situations that don’t work out their way.
- Foster an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making. The final decision does not have to be a female leader’s initial point of view. The women leaders in the study were more interested in hearing all points of view than in making the best possible decision.
- Are more likely to ignore rules and take risks. Study participants scored significantly lower than male leaders in adhering to established procedures and being cautious. However, they did score high in abstract reasoning. This gives them a greater propensity for coming up with innovative solutions.
“These personality qualities combine to create a leadership profile that is much more conducive to today’s diverse workplace,” said Herb Greenberg, founder and CEO of Caliper. “We should emphasize that the male leaders in this study were also exceptional in these areas, but the women leaders set a new standard.”
For more information, e-mail Kisha DeSandies at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8455.