John O’Connor

Over the decades, I’ve probably reported to about a dozen bosses. To be sure, no two were alike. Collectively, their abilities and temperaments ranged far and wide.

Some were micro managers with an alpha dog streak. They wanted to know every detail, while leaving no doubt about the pecking order. A few were what a colleague once referred to as milk carton managers: rarely seen. The remainder fell somewhere in between.

My bosses were pretty evenly divided between men and women. Overall, I didn’t notice much of a judgment differentiator between the sexes, save one: The women were almost always better problem solvers.

And as it turns out, that is a pretty handy ability for any leader to possess. A recent LinkedIn survey asked more than 2,000 workers what they value most in a manager. More than two thirds (68%) selected a person who can help them solve job-related challenges.

When she accepted the first McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Award in May, Lynne Katzmann spent a fair amount of time talking about how women leaders tend to more than hold their own. The founder and president of Juniper Communities was clearly speaking from personal and professional experience.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that one reason why so many women in this field do so well is because they have superior problem-solving abilities.

For if you think about it, isn’t problem solving what leaders spend most of the day doing? Your staff, your customers, and your superiors all have challenges they would like you to fix.

Perhaps your staff is harping for better training or better pay? Your customers — residents and their families — always want better care and amenities. As for the people running your organization, I probably don’t need to remind you what they want more of. Just in case: The words rhyme with pore pevinue.

Which begs a question: Why don’t more long-term care organizations hire and groom more women for leadership roles? It sure seems like a good way to make a lot of problems disappear.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.