If you want a better future you must imagine it first, says David Morey, Vice Chairman of Core Strategy Group, an innovative Washington marketing and communications firm.
“Winning always begins with practical dreaming,” Morey says. “You’ve got to have a clearly defined destination in mind, that ‘shining city on a hill’…toward which you and your team keep working.” And in today’s business climate, you’ll need all the imagination and creativity you can get—because the only certainty is change. “The rules of leadership, business, and communication have completely changed,” Morey writes. “The old rules are gone. Change rules.”
In high-tech businesses, women have been in the vanguard of change. Women have been moving into the executive suites and the technical workforce in a big way. In 2007, more than 55 percent of high-technology, IPO businesses had women officers, up from ten percent in 1997. And by 2006, women held 27 percent of US computer-related jobs and 15 percent of Fortune 500 CIO positions in IT companies.
In addition, more women are earning degrees in technical subjects: For example, women now receive almost ten times as many engineering degrees as they did in the 1970s. But here’s the catch: While women now constitute more than 30 percent of the technical workforce, they get less than ten percent of the funding, and they’re much less likely to secure venture capital than men. Clearly, for women, in technology, the world hasn’t changed quite enough.
Similarly, change is slow for women in non-technical businesses. Nearly five decades after the Equal Pay Act, there are still substantial penalties for Working While Female. In the U.S., women earn 77 cents for every dollar in a man’s paycheck. And there’s a similar gap for women-owned businesses: In 2008, the average revenues of women-owned businesses were 27% of the average revenues of majority men-owned businesses.
Against these realities, women executives must adopt the same imaginative, revolutionary strategies that have helped propel such business leaders as Apple, Google, and Starbucks to the top. David Morey calls these companies “Insurgents, who harbor an attitude of difference, move faster, and welcome change as opportunity. What do they have in common? They have boldness, an outsider’s perspective, curiosity, and imagination. They also have classic leadership skills, planning and tactics.”
In his book, The Underdog Advantage, and in his speaking and consulting, Morey analyzes these innovative and iconoclastic companies and highlights the factors that create success. “The key lesson to take from these market leaders is not the traditional corporate cliché of ‘act like a leader,’” he says, “but rather to continue acting like the hungry, scrappy little company that fought its way to leadership in the first place. And this is equally true for the individual—for women who lead and will lead businesses. Developing a revolutionary approach and culture begins in the mind and heart.”
David Morey is available for speaking engagements through MVP Seminars.