The Multiplier Effect

Woman harvesting lettuce

Women in Leadership

In our last blog post we reviewed where women stand in the quest for gender equity based on a Declaration and Platform for Action developed by the UN in 1995.

Although the global community has a long way to go, there are bright spots, where innovative women “solutionaries” are pivoting not only to cope but to “build forward better.” These women are architecting transformative futures not only in government, but also in public service, business, in the climate movement and in entrepreneurship.

  • Lina Khalifeh from Jordan took her business online training women to deal with domestic violence
  • Leah Lizarondo from the US doubled the number of volunteers helping to provide much needed free food to those in need
  • Young water engineer Christelle Kwizera from Rwanda used her WE Empower grant money to ensure local schools had running water for access to hand washing
  • Bessie Schwarz from the US is working in 20 countries with Big Data to inform grassroots women’s groups about flood prevention

Recognizing women modeling sustainable business practices and gender equity ignites awareness about their positive multiplier effect, a term developed by economists but with great relevance to cultural gender change.

Repeated exposure of women leading, thriving and change-making improves perceptions of female possibility. Stories about female role models help adolescent girls and other women aspire to leadership positions.

Essentially the success of one woman is amplified by other women and so on, precipitating cumulative change.

The fact is, countries, employers, communities and households benefit when women have greater opportunity and agency.

Our blog post “Revisiting Gender Equality” shared news from New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Taiwan, countries led by female leaders, who are part of a new movement of leaders, caring more for group welfare than individual showmanship.

Yet how can we continue to encourage the multiplier effect when the current path to leadership is often won by risk-taking, competition and negotiation, behaviors women are less likely to pursue, according to research?

Here are some ideas:

Modeling Female Leadership — Mentorship, confidence building, media training and political education are all effective tools to increase adolescent girls’ and women’s aspirations and abilities.

Negotiating Strategies for Women — Women are strong negotiators. In fact, when women negotiate on behalf of others, they exceed men’s negotiated outcomes. However, when women negotiate for themselves they often experience backlash and hesitate to negotiate as strongly. Women can learn strategies to avoid this outcome.

Reducing Ambiguity in Career Paths — Vagueness heightens the potential for gender to play a role in price and salary negotiations. Reduce ambiguity by having transparent information about what career opportunities, resources or rewards are negotiable and what the standards are for attaining them.

It is only by rising together can women, their allies and executive leadership reduce the barriers to women attaining positions of leadership.


The Institute for Women’s Leadership seeks to fulfill critical needs in the region and contribute to a robust, more broadly engaged and representative professional workforce and leadership with programs like “Women Rising” Stories from Experience” and “Rising Together: Caffeinated Conversations,” along with “Sharing Knowledge” workshops from qualified business members. On May 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the Intitute is hosting a Virtual Women’s Retreat, inspiring, an inspiring day of conversation, advice and shared experiences. For more information visit the website


International Leadership Association. “’Building Forward Better’ – Why Women’s Leadership Matters.” Amanda Ellis, 12 August 2020.
Harvard. “Women and Public Policy.”

Women’s Leadership – Where Do We Stand?

September 2020 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace. There, 189 countries committed to equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls.

In 1995, UN Women created a “Declaration and Platform for Action,” recognizing that the odds were systematically stacked against women and organized to address them.

In 25 years, how have these declarations translated to action?

It is sobering to note that not a single country has achieved full gender equality in practice in 2020. This is based on a framework of:

  • Economic participation and opportunity
  • Educational attainment
  • Health and survival
  • Political empowerment

Basic criteria. Life-defining criteria.

The top 10 countries are:

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Nicaragua
  6. New Zealand
  7. Ireland
  8. Spain
  9. Rwanda
  10. Germany

The United States is 53rd.

The goal for the 25th Anniversary was to take stock and reflect on progress. The hope was to point to groundbreaking change for gender equality. Instead, with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back.

From the UN Secretary-General’s Brief:

The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems, which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic.

Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex.

Yet in the face of these negative impacts, as we’ve pointed out in a previous blogpost, “Revisiting Gender Equity,” a new women’s leadership movement seems to be taking shape with a global call for “Generation Equality.”

The mantra of this movement is succinctly put by Melinda Gates, one of the most powerful women in philanthropy and praised by the UN-Secretary General as “visionary.”

This is how we emerge from the pandemic in all of its dimensions: by recognizing that women are not just victims of a broken world; the can be architects of a better one.

In our next blog posts, we will explore the ways this is being done around the world.


The Institute for Women’s Leadership was established in 2021. Located at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Institute provides participants the opportunity to expand transformational leadership skills, building a leadership a pipeline for Northeast Wisconsin. The Institute both embraces the Wisconsin Idea and serves the core and select missions of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in its commitment to inclusion, civic engagement, educational opportunity at all levels, and community-based partnerships. The Institute seeks to fulfill critical needs in the region and contribute to a robust, more broadly engaged and representative professional workforce and leadership. For more information visit the website 


International Leadership Association. “’Building Forward Better’ – Why Women’s Leadership Matters.” Amanda Ellis, 12 August 2020.
UN Women. Annual Report 2019-2020.
World Economic Forum. “Global Gender Gap Report 2020.” Insight Report.

Leadership 2.0

Recently, Jim Collins, #1 bestselling author of Good to Great, talked to Inc. magazine on their podcast “What I Know” about meeting Steve Jobs and how he was a different leader when he came back to work for Apple a second time.

The difference, said Collins, was, “(Jobs) never lost the passion for what he was doing, and he was growing and he was learning.”

That learning contributed to what Collins called “Steve Jobs 2.0.” In his time away from Apple, Jobs elevated himself to a “Level 5” leader, exemplifying a concept Collins talks about in Good to Great. “It’s not about just being a genius with a thousand helpers, it’s about creating a culture of genius that ultimately doesn’t need the genius.”

“Level 5” refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities that Collins and his team identified during robust research of good and great companies. Leaders at the other four levels in the hierarchy can produce high degrees of success but not enough to elevate companies from mediocrity to sustained excellence.

Although other factors are in play when a company transitions from good to great, Collins states, “Good-to-great transformations don’t happen without Level 5 leaders at the helm. They just don’t.”

Level 5 leaders are not the larger-than-life characters most of us expect. Instead these transformative leaders possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will. “They are timid and ferocious. Shy and fearless. They are rare — and unstoppable.”

Collins believes there is a category of people who have the capacity to evolve to Level 5.

“The capability resides within them, perhaps buried or ignored, but there nonetheless. And under the right circumstances — self-reflection, conscious personal development, a mentor, a great teacher, loving parents, a significant life experience, a Level 5 boss, or any number of other factors — they begin to develop.”

Explore your capacity for Level 5 leadership by learning more about Jim Collin’s books and concepts on his website, where he includes a library of articles about leadership.

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored a series of books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Beyond Entrepreneurship (and the newly released Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 version), written as a roadmap for entrepreneurs and leaders of small-to-mid-sized enterprises who want to build enduring great companies provides enduring great companies, Good to Great, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies make the leap and others don’t; the enduring classic Built to Last, which discovers why some companies remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which uncovers the leadership behaviors for thriving in chaos and uncertainty.


Grow and learn with our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program, which includes a diverse course curriculum that not only includes a core course “Development Yourself and Others” but also covers other critical topics like “Coaching for Performance,” “Change Management,” “Supervision and Human Resource Functions,” “Interpersonal Communication,” “Helping Your Team Achieve Organizational Management,” along with a Capstone Course that integrates all the learning and knowledge. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.


Harvard Business Review. “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve,” Jim Collins, January 2001.
Inc., “The Lesson Management Guru Jim Collins Learned from Steve Jobs,” Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, January 2021.

Chasing Strengths

What Really Matters in Effective Leadership

The maxim may be true that you cannot lead others if you don’t understand yourself. However, leading only with a strengths-based focus can reveal character blind spots, which may cascade to organizational weaknesses.

For example, a creative, big-picture thinker who cannot translate their vision into a realistic operating plan with specifics about resources, responsibilities and timelines is hamstrung if they don’t seek out ways to develop the yang to their yin.

A natural collaborator who can bring people together and pool insights won’t be much use if they don’t know when or how to end discussion and decide next steps.

In some ways, chasing strengths is a cop-out. Leaders can be lulled into thinking that their strengths are enough. This may inhibit their development mindset. Also, weaknesses are weaknesses, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If a leader can only operate in “command” mode, what are they not hearing or observing?

What’s needed is a a more balanced approach to leadership learning and development, especially in today’s complex, dynamic, ever-shifting world.

New research shows that the most effective leaders are the ones with the broadest repertoire of complementary skills and competencies. In other words, they are versatile.

Versatility is the capacity to read and respond to change with a wide range of correlative skills and behaviors.

How Does a Leader Develop Versatility?

  • Broaden your perspective — Seek out roles that stretch your skills and experiences. Versatile leaders tend to have more diverse career paths and work experiences than others, as well as the learning agility to absorb lessons and incorporate them in their leadership tool kits.
  • Solicit ongoing feedback — It’s crucial to get input about the impact and effectiveness of your behavior. Versatile leaders not only respond well to change, they also change their behavior in response to constructive criticism.
  • Become a more well-rounded person — Be open to new opportunities and capabilities. Versatile leaders show a pattern of stepping beyond the familiar and comfortable.

As you move forward, developing as a leader and a person, this quote from the late Peter Drucker could be your touchstone.

What should I stop, start and continue doing to be more effective?
—Peter Drucker


Our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program includes a diverse course curriculum that not only includes a core course “Development Yourself and Others” but also covers other critical topics like “Coaching for Performance,” “Change Management,” “Supervision and Human Resource Functions,” “Interpersonal Communication,” “Helping Your Team Achieve Organizational Management,” along with a Capstone Course that integrates all the learning and knowledge. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.


Harvard Business Review, “The Best Leaders are Versatile Ones,” Robert B. Kaiser, March 2, 2020.

Talent Quarterly, “Your Leader’s Strengths May Be Your Company’s Weaknesses,” Rob Kaiser, M.S., September 17, 2019.


Read Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein or watch his TED Talk “Why Specializing Early Doesn’t Always Mean Career Success.”

Defining Leadership for Yourself

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of leadership encompasses: 1) the office or position of a leader; 2) capacity to lead; 3) the act or instance of leading; and 4) leaders.

Leadership is personal and organizational. It can be demand-driven, purpose-driven, people-driven or all three.

Leadership can be described differently by different people, depending on their vantage point.

The Wall Street Journal asserts that leaders should be able to adapt their style to the moment, responding to the particulars of a challenge. Effective leaders should be able to move between the following modes:

  • Visionary — Helping an organization determine a new direction by moving people toward a new set of shared dreams.
  • Coaching — When working one-on one to guide an individual’s professional development and to connect them to the broader organizational mission.
  • Affiliate — If morale or trust are issues, this style focuses on team-building by connecting people to each other.
  • Democratic — This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, creating a group commitment to organizational goals.
  • Pacesetting — In this style, the leader sets the standard for performance.
  • Commanding — The classic model of “military”-style leadership, best suited for crisis or urgent situations. Probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Even the military has come to recognize its limited usefulness.

Tony Robbins, author, coach and nationally-renowned motivational speaker, insists all leaders should cultivate a style with an underpinning of servant leadership. That is, you using your leadership skills to serve a greater good. He believes you should first identify your purpose and then you explore the types of leadership style to determine which aligns best with your personality and situation.

His styles relate largely to the ones shared above. He even includes a “Style Quiz” to help you identify your particular style or combination of styles.

Harvard Business Review classifies leadership styles as “archetypes,” which simultaneously stamps the individual’s personality and situation onto a prototype as follows:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess.
  • The change catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity.
  • The transactor: leadership as deal-making
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management.

What all these descriptions have in common is a certain level of self-awareness. The exercise of exploring personal leadership styles results in a greater understanding of an individual’s personality strengths and weaknesses, and how they might be best leveraged within an organization to have the desired result.

What matters ultimately is how you define leadership for yourself, and how that definition serves the organization and mission you find yourself charged with.


The core course in our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program is “Developing Yourself and Others,” which includes a CliftonStrengths 34 assessment. You will learn your unique strengths and how best to leverage as a leader for the fulfillment of your organization’s mission and your individual purpose. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.


Wall Street Journal, “How-To Guide: Developing a Leadership Style,” adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.
Tony Robbins, “7 Types of Leadership Styles.”
Harvard Business Review, “The Eight Archetypes of Leadership,” Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, December 18, 2013.