Dispelling myths, misperceptions, and misunderstandings is the theme of my post today. I hope that you will take a few minutes to read it, share it and even better, leave a comment. Your fellow leaders are eager to hear from you as well!

Step in, Step up… just don’t Step back!

This past weekend I spent some time at the Ultimate Women’s Conference in Denver, hosted by Jessica Peterson and Andrea L Sullenger. A last minute addition to my weekend, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. In fact, I had planned on spending most of that time working on my book. But I was drawn to some of the speakers on the agenda and as I’ve said before, you just never know how and when you can meet exceptional people.

So, I went…and I was glad that I did! I had the chance to meet some exceptional leaders, including Forbes Top 20 Social Media Expert Viveka Van Rosen as well as Jane Deuber, and Doug Johnson. All had great personal and entrepreneurial stories along with unique service and business solutions. Kudos to all of you!

What stood out for me most in this truly entrepreneurial setting were the parallels between corporate and entrepreneurial challenges, especially the increasing demand for leadership rather than management. It was also interesting to actively observe how men and women approach a task, collaborate with one another (especially how they work with the opposite sex), identify/define a problem and in the end, execute a solution.

For me, it once again boils down to Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In a room full of highly intelligent people (IQ) you can see some really great ideas flowing. But how well someone will actually play — and succeed — with others in the same sandbox is in many ways the direct result of their EQ. This is regardless of whether you are a rookie or a seasoned veteran at the top of your game.

Maybe I’m just lucky. But I’ve found that most people that I meet, speak to at conferences or interact on blogs like this, want to play like a pro. That is a superb goal and objective! So I ask you. What does it feel like/sound like/look like to you? Please let me know.

On a similar note, I’ve been asked by many of you, (thank you)! to share some additional thoughts on professionalism and leadership — especially from the perspective of gender differences at global companies… and how this may apply to small/mid-sized companies and entrepreneurs.

Based on my research, interviews and personal experience in a wide-range of business environments, please consider the following:

1. Identify Visible Role Models – It’s not a surprise that role models and peer support can make a meaningful difference in the workplace. And the bigger the company, the bigger pool of mentors, right? Well, yes. But it’s harder than we think to know who the true mentors are in large, global companies. And frankly, it can be especially challenging for women to identify and then connect with excellent mentors.

Why? In a large company, it’s not always easy to know who in the pack is truly moving the needle. (Remember that titles and org charts are not necessarily indicators of true leadership. In fact, they can be misleading). By design or ignorance, organizations often limit access to information and institutional knowledge. And that access — or lack thereof — can include mentors.

2. Implement Effective Employee Leadership Programs – Leadership programs must no longer be exclusively designed and offered to the C-Suite. Share your knowledge with the team. First, they’ll be more effective leaders in their own area of the company. Second, they may better understand your vision — of how you think. Finally, you will help them learn how to think. Not just for the company but for themselves. Do we need to say more on this one?

3. Publish Gender Based Key Performance Indicators (G-KPIs) – Who contributed to your corporate success in the last fiscal? Why not to share your victories with the company and the world? (And why not , maybe, consider using a gender-based KPI? Now that would really set you apart! 😉

I’m sure you have been in meetings or at conferences with “top executives” who like to have the stage all to themselves, by themselves and for themselves. After a while, these famous leaders all start sounding the same to me. Wouldn’t it be great if they just told the truth that they did not do it alone. Celebrate others. Can you relate to this one? It is game changer — please do not be left behind!

4. Increase Boardroom & Meeting Dynamic Awareness – It is essential to be the leader that is eager to encourage everyone, both men and women to contribute to their full potential. But how you do that? By inviting more women to the table (no, not to serve the table) but to fully participate in strategic planning sessions. You may be surprised how many golden nuggets can be found that can transform your team and organization.

And by the way, I am speaking to both men and women that currently occupy the corner office.

5. Allow Competency Differences – Let’s face it. Regardless of gender, we naturally gravitate to what we are good at. On our path to leadership excellence, we also work hard on those areas that need improvement to unleash our full potential. But yes, (spoiler alert) men and women are different animals.

I recently ran across an interesting study that measured16 leadership competency differences between men and women leaders.

Let’s take a quick look:

Zenger Folkman

All I’ll say for now is this: We should not assume that women “can’t”.

6. Institute Transparency – Oh, yes it is on the list with reason! Not all great ideas are born in the office. Amazing strategies are not always discussed during working hours. And just as we migrate to what we know as outlined above, we tend to collaborate with others like us.

Don’t get me wrong, collaboration is great. But if the seeds of the next great idea are batted around in a bar after work, it’s probably going to be with your buddies. And if your buddies are men, women are by default excluded.

The result can be that qualified women leaders are not part of the early brainstorming sessions. And if they’re not part of the conversation early in the process, their contribution is diminished. Why waste such an amazing resource?

7. Effective Integration of Diversity and Inclusiveness – This statement sums its up best:

There is a big difference between diversity and inclusiveness. Diversity is about counting the numbers. Inclusiveness is about making the numbers count. Whether it is about individuals or companies or countries, the conversation has to shift from talking about whether diversity affects performance to talking about the conditions under which youd expect diversity to have a positive effect on performance. ~ Professor Boris Groysberg, Harvard Business School, January 2013

The question is how well you do both. There’s nothing more heartbreaking (or organizationally stupid) to let exceptional talent not be recognized or utilized to their full potential. As a leader, I can’t think of a more important and empowering role than getting the best out of everybody. It is up to you to attract, keep and nurture other leaders on your team.

Granted, not everyone will meet your expectations. Not everyone is right for your company. And that’s OK. The ones that are right; that can and should stay, will provide dividends beyond your expectations.

8. Diversify Performance Incentives – We often hear “know your audience or your client,” we never really hear much about “know your employees”.

I was recently in the middle of a sea of top sales executives. In this case, 80% of the team were men. What occurred to me was that no one seemed to recognize that celebrating the big new account with beers and chicken wings at a bar may not be equally appealing to the women on the team.

So give a little extra thought to non-monetary incentives…those “little things” you do to reward the team. Maybe instead of beer and wings, it’s shoe shopping, a pedicure, and a Sex & The City Marathon ;-). Or maybe something else. But you get the idea.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, inspirations, challenges, and solutions – I read and respond to all of your comments. By sharing some of your experiences and words of wisdom from your own journey on the path of legacy leadership in your own unique legendary way – You are assisting others!

Leave a Legacy – Legacy that matters! Be a Legend – Your legendary way!

Massive growth, success and happiness to YOU in 2015!

PS. Click Here To Download My Free Leadership Blueprint For Massive Success & Discover The Secrets On How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be.

Learn… Lead… Love…  Izabela Lundberg  (@IzabelaLundberg) is CEO and Founder of Izabela Lundberg International. She is an Executive  Consultant, Trainer & Speaker for Fortune 500 and  Professional Athletes & Coaches. She is #1 International Best Selling Author & Leading Authority of Leadership Transformation From Fear to Greatness. Drawing on her extensive global business management, diversity, and high-performance impact expertise through her work with people from over 80 countries, Izabela also writes and speaks on topics such us  Strategic Leadership & InfluenceLegacy Leadership, & #HighPerformance #Impact.