Women’s Leadership Experts Find That Meetings Matter More for Women

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Flynn Heath Holt Leadership partners announce the launch of their latest article in Harvard Business Review.

A leader’s performance in meetings has a big influence on others’ perceptions of her overall competence and capability.

Behavior in meetings matters more than we might think, according to new research by Flynn Heath Holt Leadership that appears this week in the June 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review. Their article, entitled “Women, Find Your Voice: Your Performance in Meetings Matters More Than You Think,” extends the research from the partners’ bestselling Jossey-Bass book, "Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking That Block Women’s Paths to Power." The article delivers insightful suggestions based on the firm’s continuing research and work with women in executive roles in Fortune 500 companies.

The research reveals that meetings are a major opportunity, particularly for women executives. Kathryn Heath, Founding Partner at Flynn Heath Holt Leadership, explains, “As you rise in an organization most of your time is spent in meetings, so it is critical that we all understand what peak performance looks like in meetings.”

What is missing? “Meetings do matter,” adds Heath. “A leader’s performance in meetings has a big influence on others’ perceptions of her overall competence and capability.”

Heath concludes that women and men both see the problem but have different explanations for the cause. Confidence, language choice, timing, communication styles, under representation at important meetings: all contribute to how a woman is perceived in a meeting.

The Harvard Business Review article is an abbreviated version of a longer report which the partners are releasing related to women’s performance and effectiveness in meetings. The longer report will be available by request by emailing Wendy Pond, wpond(at)flynnheath(dot)com) and includes detailed summaries of the findings from the partners’ systematic research with leaders in Fortune 500 companies including review of 360-degree evaluations, a formal survey, and interviews with 65 C-Suite executives. It is the hope of the partners that their findings will provide insights for both organizations and women executives.

In their work with women leaders, the partners of Flynn Health Holt Leadership are continuing to move toward their Red Suit Vision, one in which 30% of the top C-Suite positions in corporate America are held by women. To reach this vision, they work to equip women to be more successful leaders in corporate executive roles.

The Flynn Heath Holt partners who conducted the research – Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, and Mary Davis Holt – bring a wealth of professional experience to their vision of moving women leaders forward faster. All three partners had outstanding corporate careers prior to founding their firm in 2001. Flynn Heath Holt Leadership is dedicated to developing high-performing women leaders through a combination of research-based strategies and practical, results-focused solutions. The firm is considered a pioneer in creating a new paradigm for what it means to be a successful woman leader in today’s workplace. (For more information, visit http://www.flynnheathholt.com.)

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Megan Constantino
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