Designed Wisdom, Inc.

M. Frances Baldwin, Ed.D.


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M. Frances Baldwin, Ed.D.

President of DesignedWisdom, Inc.


For more than 35 years she has provided corporate leaders and other stakeholders

with the core concepts, strategies and tools for guiding their

personal, team and organizational change initiatives.






Wise words from Frances

Published: 15/08/2008

MOST people in their 70s want to put their career behind them – but not Dr Frances Baldwin.

The 71-year-old grandmother established her own consultancy to share the wisdom and knowledge gained during her 30-year career as an internationally-acclaimed educator and practitioner of leadership philosophy.

She will be travelling to Scotland to share her experiences with others at a special seminar in Edinburgh in September.

She said: “I have had the most pleasant and exciting life and now I’m doing the things I have always wanted to – articulating the wisdom of my years and helping others to learn from my experience while also valuing their own life experience.”

Frances has navigated a fascinating career which has seen the former high school educator and counsellor go on to develop leaders in the American Navy in the 1970s to coaching executives in a major global corporation through the 1990s.

Since creating her own consultancy in 1994, Frances has designed the seminar, When Women Lead From Within, to support emerging opportunities for women to walk the edge between traditional and future leadership practices.

Organised by Aberdeen-based leadership development experts, The Chaos Game, the two-day management programme encourages women to learn from, and put forth their own unique perspective in order to improve management practices.

Frances says: “What is distinctive about this seminar is the way in which a focus on real life stories awakens the type of confidence, resilience and balance that actually serves both men and women well.”

Frances said of her own career path: “My motivation for graduate study was to bring the prevailing management knowledge from the business world into the public schools. Unfortunately I became intrigued and was seduced into the corporate arena.”

During graduate studies, Frances was given an opportunity, as part of a civilian team of consultants, to work with the American Navy’s highest officers who were attempting to leverage the energy of the civil rights movement in the civilian world to create a more inclusive military environment; especially as the unrest was spilling over into the military.

She recently received one of her biggest accolades when she learned that her dissertation had been reviewed and placed in the archives of the Bureau of Naval Personnel library in Washington, D.C.

Frances later switched from the public to private sector when she joined Esso Oil in Houston, Texas, now known as Exxon-Mobil, where she worked for 13 years.

In 1994 she returned to her roots in Atlanta, Georgia to settle into a slower pace, but she has no doubts that with age comes wisdom: “As you become older, you learn more about what is important.

“For me, that is to trust my intuition, have compassion for people no matter who they are and the knowledge that the world is not out to get you. Age also gives you the opportunity to refine your views and realise that wisdom is only wisdom if it helps you and others navigate the realities of a current day – with grace, of course.”

Frances will be hosting the When Women Lead From Within seminar at The Howard Hotel, Edinburgh, on September 15 and 16, and on September 18 to 19.

The cost for corporate clients is £1,050 per person, for the public sector £945, and for non-profit and independent clients £900.

The fee includes working materials, lunches and dinner on the first evening. It does not include VAT.

For more information call 01224 734 337, e-mail or visit www.thechaosgame. com

This article is reproduced from:


The Leadership qualities of women

Unleashing the power from within

Frances Baldwin suggests that perhaps women are becoming the "edge walkers" toward a type of leadership that is gender-free.

The saying, "It’s a man’s world", hardly seems relevant in contemporary society. Even twenty years ago, the possibility of a female running for the presidency of a large developed nation would have seemed near implausible, but Hillary Clinton’s recent attempt to be nominated as the Democrat candidate in the 2008 US elections is a perfect example of how far we have come in terms of equal opportunities and dispelling gender stereotypes. Certainly, when it comes to positions of leadership, more and more often we see women acting as crucial driving forces across a variety of industries and sectors.

But does leading the way as a woman necessarily mean rejecting your natural female instincts? Should women, who want to lead, be embracing traits and acting in a manner, which is perhaps more traditionally envisaged as "male" or masculine? And what unique abilities might women bring to leadership that are less known and not yet researched? Times are certainly changing and these are some of the questions that are being asked and answered as women become more visible on the leadership landscape.

Numerous studies have shown specifically how men and women act and react differently to situations in a corporate setting. There are common themes and findings across the research that is helpful to both women and men as leaders and followers. One of the most comprehensive studies of gender differences in leadership behaviour was completed in 1998 by The Management Research Group based in Germany and the USA*

The results of the research showed that while men and women were ranked equally effective overall (by bosses, peers and direct reports), the following differences were clear:


  1. Were more task and results focused – organised work in a structured way, followed-up to ensure that objectives were met and pushed for results.

  2. Developed closer working relationships – demonstrated more concern for others; were more candid and sincere.


  1. Took a strategic approach to the leadership role – planning, visioning, and risk-taking, and giving thoughtful consideration to past lessons and viability of opportunities for change in the future.

Even though these results reflect a familiar pattern, we are certainly witnessing a shift in thinking when it comes to methods of working within organisations. We can see a trend in management literature developing where aspects such as interpersonal and communicating skills are being given more value and precedence within companies. Obviously men and women can learn from each other’s natural instincts in order to be the most well-rounded and reliably effective leaders. Therefore women can augment their task and people skills with some of the more recognised business and strategic skills and men can enhance their tendency toward business skills with better people skills – including such things as sensitivity and listening.

In addition to these well-studied areas, women harbour an array of unique qualities and instincts which can be seen in the fresh approaches that they are bringing to some of the more complex and enduring problems of corporate and societal leadership. Women tend not to recognise their own unique abilities, and in our zeal to meet and exceed performance expectations in high pressured, fast-paced and results-driven business settings, these more subtle gems of wisdom can be dismissed and lost.

I have worked closely with leaders of both genders for over thirty years and have observed that the most effective women seem to tap into a different source of wisdom that leads them to unique behaviours such as:

Presence and attentiveness

Beyond communicating freely and including their employees in decisions, these women are deep listeners. The quality of attention that they give to individuals, their ideas and their needs on a daily and routine basis engenders a type of trust and loyalty that is invaluable for teams and partnerships when they face tough challenges and the need for innovation and change.


Women who can consistently shift their focus from one task or situation to another across time and situational boundaries are much more effective and resilient. This ability to compartmentalise may be connected to the experience of multi-tasking that is essential to the traditional demands of balancing personal and work life.

Willingness to ask and act upon penetrating questions

When situations seem stuck in age-old dilemmas, women who trust their own wisdom know that they must step back and ask dismantling questions in order to open up new options – questions that begin with "What if?" "What else?" and "What would it take?" This requires stepping into what is not known in order to create something new. The results can be seen in unique organisational designs and stronger cross-functional relationships that serve real purpose. Women, who are willing to "not know", tap into the collective intelligence and creative solutions to be found in the workforce.

In order to begin to comprehend the value of their best qualities, women must also get in touch with their inner wisdom. By this term we refer to concepts and habits that have been repeatedly tested and evaluated for their usefulness and reliability and then translated into life principles that work for you. It is personal knowledge that becomes embodied behaviour. Once you develop wisdom, it allows you to assess and discern situations with greater confidence. Wisdom, by this definition, helps women make the best judgment and choices in a wide range of both positive and challenging situations. The source of this wisdom may be a combination of concepts learned in a university, observation over time and your own thoughts that began with a quiet voice that simply spoke from somewhere in your mind. The challenge is to develop and learn how to tap into this wisdom.

A leadership challenge for women is to ensure that their styles and behaviours include the more strategic business skills that research attributes to men, the task and people skills attributed to women, as well as their own unique qualities and inner wisdom. Understanding how this broader repertoire of leader options can be used appropriately and drawn upon instinctively is a learning edge. Once these natural and instinctive qualities become part of your behaviour, this can help you to differentiate yourself as a leader within your organisation.

Frances Baldwin is a leadership consultant with The Chaos Game, a company which delivers a variety of development programmes for organisational leaders. or call +44 (0)1224 734337.

* Study referenced Gender Differences in Organizational Leadership, Robert I. Kabacoff, Ph.D., Management Research Group; Portland Maine USA; Munich, Germany. 1998. Respondents from USA and Canada, as well as worldwide database assembled by MRG.

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