When Women Lead
What They Achieve, Why They Succeed, and How We Can Learn from Them
“Filled with top-notch research, practical insight, and stories from the most inspiring women in business, Julia Boorstin lays out a new, inclusive vision for leadership and our world at large.” —Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive
“A must-read for all leaders as they consider the future of work.” —Eve Rodsky, New York Times bestselling author of Fair Play and Find Your Unicorn Space
A groundbreaking, deeply reported work from CNBC’s Julia Boorstin that reveals the key commonalities and characteristics that help top female leaders thrive as they innovate, grow businesses, and navigate crises—an essential resource for anyone in the workplace.
Julia Boorstin was thirteen when her mother told her that, by the time she grew up, women could be just as powerful as men, “captains of industry, running the biggest companies!” A decade later, working at a top business publication and seeing the dearth of women in positions of leadership, Boorstin assumed her mom had been wrong. But over the following two decades as a TV reporter and creator of CNBC’s Disruptor 50 franchise, interviewing, and studying thousands of executives, she realized that a gender-equity utopia shouldn’t be a pipe dream. Yes, women faced massive social and institutional headwinds, and struggled with double standards and what psychologists call “pattern matching.” Yet those who thrived, Boorstin found, shared key commonalities that made them uniquely equipped to lead, grow businesses, and navigate crises. They were highly adaptive to change, deeply empathetic in their management style, and much more likely to integrate diverse points of view into their business strategies, filling voids that their male counterparts had overlooked for generations. By utilizing those strengths, they had invented new business models, disrupted industries, and made massive profits along the way.
Now, in When Women Lead, Boorstin brings together the stories of over sixty of those female CEOs and leaders, and dozens of new studies. Her combination of narrative and research reveals how once-underestimated characteristics, from vulnerability and gratitude to divergent thinking, can be vital superpowers—and that anyone can work these approaches to their advantage. Featuring new interviews with Katrina Lake, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jenn Hyman, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Lena Waithe, Shivani Siroya, Julia Collins, and more, When Women Lead is a radical blueprint for the future of business, and our world at large.
"Women's strengths are... simply not associated with great leadership," posits Boorstin, CNBC's senior media and tech correspondent, in her debut, a thorough if tepid overview of women's progress in the workplace. To replace common leadership stereotypes (such as "the imperious salt-and-pepper patriarch" and "the move-fast-and-break-things tech bro"), Boorstin interviewed 120 women "and some men" and found new prototypes. The classic belief that business leaders are "authoritative, unquestioning male leaders" isn't all true—women have their own qualities "that correlate with great leadership," such as being considerate, empathetic, and vulnerable, and being more likely to consider "social and environmental goals." Boorstin's interviewees come from a diverse set of industries: "the CEO of three fertility companies" is a case study in how "women are more likely than men to be proactive when it comes to their medical care," while the head of a renewable energy business highlights that "men in their twenties and thirties report having much higher confidence in themselves than women of the same age do." While the stories are upbeat and hopeful, the message that a "female" model of leadership can transform industries is an old one. In a crowded field, this one comes up short.