Michigan's First Gentleman Champions Women in Business, Politics and Life
Daniel Mulhern speaks at conference focusing on women in leadership.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—It could have been out of an episode of a television drama. Aspiring young politician with lofty goals hears from powerful pundits that it's his wife the party wants to nominate. Michigan's First Gentleman, Daniel G. Mulhern, lived that scenario and has come out the other side as a champion of women—in politics as well as business.
Mulhern was a keynote speaker at the Pathways for Women to Obtain Positions of Organizational Leadership workshop held this fall at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
His address focused on "Ten Pathways for Success" and, according to Mulhern, was given the thumbs-up by several of his female advisers, including his wife, Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
"Jennifer has performed a delicate balancing act. Women (politicians) have to prove they’re tough without losing their softer side in the eyes of the voters. It is a paradoxical expectation," said Mulhern.
His message offered helpful balancing tips, and sounded like a recipe for success for powerful women and the men who support them.
Ten Pathways for Success
- Strong Sisters: Mentoring helps those who give as well as those who receive. Offering a hand to an up-and-comer is valuable.
- Proud Dads: Women must find the men among them who support their efforts. "Many men celebrate female success. Seek them out," he said.
- Execution Advantage: Recognize that women are organized, multi-taskers who get things done.
- Willingness to Serve: Serving those above and below, in order to make one’s superior look good and one's subordinates feel empowered, is important. It is serving one’s self that is a real challenge for today’s women, Mulhern said.
- Emotional Intelligence: Woman display an innate empathy that allows them to have social skills with purpose.
- Spin a Wider Web: Mulhern encouraged women to get outside their walls, widen their network and remember, "It’s a free agent nation," he said.
- Know the Male Ego: "Men don’t like to be controlled by women. They hate to feel irrelevant. They need love, respect, encouragement and, at times, to be humored," said Mulhern.
- Develop Great Sons: On a personal note, he spoke to the mothers (and future mothers) in attendance on the importance of allowing sons "emotional space." At the same time, he encouraged the need to foster an old-fashioned quality in young men: chivalry.
- Marry (if you choose to) Well: "Find someone who shares your purpose, humor and self-awareness. Someone with their own strong self-image," he said.
- Know Your Family Values: If children are involved, he suggests that one parent be the primary caregiver. "At my house, it’s me," he said. "Be true to yourself, give yourself choices and, if necessary, invest in good help."
Comparing the male-female dynamic to a bird, he paraphrased an ancient parable stating that both genders must work together for any organization to succeed. "For when one wing is stronger than the other, the bird will not fly," he said.
To learn more about Daniel G. Mulhern, visit www.Michigan.Gov/FirstGentleman.
Written by Nancy Davis
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