Monday, July 05, 2010

A Call to Action – For Men and Women

Is now the time when women will take a much greater leadership role? This was a core question being asked at the Deutsche Bank Women in European Business Conference last week. The answer was a resounding “yes” from speakers such as Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-first and business commentator RenĂ© Carayol. “It should be” was more the tone of the speakers leading major industries such as Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group and Colin Grassie, CEO of Deutsche Bank UK.

The business case for becoming “gender bi-lingual” is very strong for many businesses. Firstly, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox states, the biggest single, growing, poorly-tapped market for many large companies is not China, India or Brazil – it’s women in their existing home markets. Her message is that companies are still working to gender assumptions that men wield the economic power. Their products and their communications are designed to “speak” to men. Those companies that become gender bi-lingual create real competitive advantage.

Secondly, in our inter-connected business world, the skills of collaborative working, networking, and understanding people are more and more vital. Women have been shown time and again to be stronger at these skills.

So what’s at the heart of gender bi-lingual communication? For Heidi Mottram, newly appointed CEO of Northumbrian Water, it is about creating values based organisations – values that transcend male/female stereo-types. But if the top team of the company is all male, and the layer below is all, or nearly all, male, how do you create a real understanding of what those values should be - and how they should be expressed?

As someone who has listened to this debate for decades now, the answers from the conference made sense to me:
•    get more women into leadership roles
•    stop “fixing” the women and start fixing the culture!
•    trust those women to succeed by thinking and acting as women leaders, with different skills, rather than behaving like a man

If those are the answers for you too - what’s your role in making it happen?

More balances to consider

Balancing your time between work and life is an important consideration in managing stress.  But leading a fulfilled, enjoyable, purposeful life, involves the consideration of many balances. Here are a range of other balances important to life, where the question for anyone is “have I got the balance right”.  There isn’t a magic formula, but there is a balance that’s right for you

1.    Being at pressure vs. simply relaxing
2.    Being planned with a schedule vs. being unplanned and spontaneous
3.    Projecting into the future vs. living in the moment
4.    Doing what you need to do vs. what you want to do
5.    Satisfaction with what you have in your life now vs. striving to achieve more
6.    Managing and directing others vs. coaching and empowering others
7.    Taking risks vs. avoiding risks
8.    Responding to your own needs vs. addressing the needs of others
9.    Reaching for new ideas vs. fulfilling current plans.
10.  Seriousness vs. humour
11.  Rational thought vs. creativity
12.  Asserting your own interests vs. listening to others
13.  Doing what you always do vs. trying something different
14.  Saying yes to others vs. saying no

Summer holidays are a great time to reassess the balances in your life and recharge the batteries ready for the rest of the year.  More importantly, the better the job you do of maintaining your balances, the less you’ll need a holiday and the more you’ll be able to enjoy it.