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How Women Are Best Equipped to Lead the Millennial Workforce

How Women Are Best Equipped to Lead the Millennial Workforce

By Christine Condon

Who is going to move the needle on building great teams with today’s workforce of Millennials? Chief Human Resources Officer of Accenture Ellyn Shook says it’s women.

“I think women are well positioned to be great team builders,” says Shook, who speaks out in the “Women Who Lead” web series by the 92nd Street Y’s Women in Power Fellowship Program and Ellevate Network, a professional networking group for women. She cites a McKinsey study that analyzed leadership behaviors in high-performing organizations.

“They looked at how [the behaviors] were exhibited by men and by women differently," says Shook, "and there were five of the nine characteristics that really demonstrate that women are good team builders.”

Shook also highlights that women are good at developing their people, as leaders, women value learning and growth. They are good role models, they inspire, and both recognize and reward their teams. The ability to build better teams is more important now than ever before.

“I think you really can’t be successful in most organizations as an individual,” says Shook. “The days of the culture of the stars is over. You look at the Millennial generation, and you look at what’s important to them. They view the outcomes of the collective group much more important than an individual's.”

Millennials currently make up one-third of the U.S. workforce, recently surpassing Gen Xers as the largest segment, according to the Pew Research Center. To galvanize a generation known for its tech-savviness and desire for collaboration and transparency, it will be critical for today’s leaders to cultivate strong team building skills to continually advance their own careers--and to ensure the company is making the most of its talent resources.

“If you don’t know how to reward and recognize team building,” Shook states, “you’ve got to learn how to do it--because you won’t be inspiring the workforce that’s right at our doorstep today.”

Of course, becoming a superlative team leader goes hand in hand with being a team player. As the leader of a global career management and HR team, Shook ought to know.

“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness,” she says. “If you are going it alone, you probably are not doing it your best.” 


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