National University launches institute to bolster women as leaders

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — They are half of the American population, but comprise only 6 percent of the CEO’s heading the Standard and Poor’s 500 companies.

Educators at National University want to change that by giving more women the tools to lead.

The University has launched a brand new series of classes, seminars and workshops, which are presented by the Institute for Leadership Synergy.

The Institute will give men and women a greater understanding of the way gender differences inform leadership styles. Institute co-founder Adriana Cabré offers one example.

“One of the issues is assigning project leaders and why women don’t get the leadership position. Women tend to ask a lot of questions in advance and a lot of men just say, ‘give me the project’ and they move on,” Cabré said.

To enhance communication, she thought that women need to understand, “What are the questions that you ask and how do you go about asking those questions so you still get your information, but you’re not overwhelming others with trying to get more information upfront?”

Some of the Institute’s basic tenets are derived from the behavioral tools taught by Institute co-founder Will Marré.

At Tuesday’s panel discussion at the La Jolla campus of National University, Marré discussed contrasting styles of leadership, characterizing them as “hard” and “soft.” The hard style focuses on goals and accountability, which is a style more commonly associated with men.

He said the soft style favored by women takes a more collaborative approach to problem-solving.

The Institute does not exclude men. Joylyn Darnell, the Institute’s Executive Director noted, “We want to train and educate women but that’s only part of the puzzle. If we’re not including men and bringing them along in this conversation, we’re actually missing out on half of our audience and that would be a mistake.”

National University begins its on-site classes with the Institute for Leadership Synergy in February. Many of the workshops will be offered online, starting in April.

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