[We’re pleased to welcome Deborah A. O’Neil of Bowling Green State University. Dr. O’Neil recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science with Margaret M. Hopkins of University of Toledo and Diana Bilimoria of Case Western Reserve University entitled “A Framework for Developing Women Leaders: Applications to Executive Coaching.”
- What inspired you to be interested in this topic?
Mig (Margaret), Diana and I have conducted research on various aspects of working women for many years; specifically opportunities and challenges in women’s career and leadership development. Each of us has extensive experience coaching women across industries and management levels. We believe the leadership development stories we describe in the article to be evocative exemplars of the realities faced by many women leaders with whom we have worked. What we know through our coaching and our research, and what the literature on women’s career and leadership development supports, is that the combination of organizational environments and life/career choices are often quite challenging for women. We believe these issues must be raised in order to create equal opportunities for women to succeed at all levels.
- Were there findings that were surprising to you?
One thing that continues to surprise us is that although we know much from research about the challenges that women face in their organizational lives, progress in overcoming many of these challenges seems to be an uphill battle. This is one of the reasons we wrote this conceptual piece, proposing a framework for women’s leadership development that highlights the importance for women of developing their leadership presence, i.e., self-confidence, self-efficacy, influence, and authenticity. Women have to establish this presence in the midst of challenging organizational contexts while dealing with work-life integration and life/career stage concerns. We believe executive coaching is one effective way to assist women in developing the key characteristics of leadership presence in the midst of managing the key factors impacting their leadership development.
- How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
Our conceptual framework provides the opportunity for measuring and testing the variables and relationships we propose for women’s leadership development. We encourage future research to investigate combinations of the model’s elements in determining how women can develop their leadership capabilities and advance in their organizations. We hope that our framework will add to the body of knowledge on the strategic advancement of women. Equally important, we hope that our framework will provide executive coaches of women with practical strategies for effectively assisting women in navigating their complex professional and personal lives as they seek to advance into senior leadership roles in their organizations.
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Deb O’Neil is an Associate Professor and Director, Master of Organization Development Program at the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University. Her research is focused on the processes by which individuals and organizations develop. Her fundamental questions of interest are those related to growth and progress. Within this broader area of research, she also investigates gender dynamics in organizations and the facilitators of and barriers to women’s career and leadership development. Currently Dr. O’Neil is working on a number of research studies examining leadership and career development. Dr. O’Neil has also been an executive coach and organizational consultant for 15 years.
Margaret M. Hopkins is an Associate Professor of Management at College of Business and Innovation, University of Toledo. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of leadership, women in leadership, leadership development, executive coaching, and emotional intelligence. She is accredited in the Emotional Competence Inventory.Prior to joining the UT faculty, she worked in management positions in the public and private sectors.She also served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education for the Cleveland Municipal School District.
Diana Bilimoria is KeyBank Professor and Chair of the Department of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She was the 2011-12 Division Chair of the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division of the Academy of Management. She has served as the editor of the Journal of Management Education. She has been internationally recognized for her leadership, research and service. Dr. Bilimoria’s research focuses on gender diversity in governance and leadership, and organizational transformation.