Tag Archives: women leadership

Disrupt Yourself To Success

11 Jan

disrupt yourself to success

Are you comfortable in your current job but you feel that there’s something missing? Do you find your tasks are becoming routine and no longer challenging? Do you feel like you’ve reached a career peak and your job has lost its shine? Perhaps it’s time to disrupt yourself.

Most of us work with a personal goal or ambition in mind, whether it’s to develop new skills, make a difference, become famous or simply to provide for our families. When your work is challenging it energizes you, gives you drive and generally makes you feel good. Then, once you’ve finally achieved your goal or career ambition, you bask in the warm glow of your success and are happy to work at it thereafter.

However, after a time you may find that dream job, or a large part of it, becomes automatic and routine. This tends to occur when you enter a “comfort zone” in which you can confidently perform your work year in year out without issues. It’s a perfectly good place to be but it’s not where the magic happens. Growth, fresh ideas, innovation and creativity all occur when you are outside your comfort zones. So, in order to step outside the zone, you need to disrupt yourself, be prepared to learn new skills, open up to new experiences and go on a journey where the end goal might not even be in sight.

Career development is no longer the linear track it used to be, where we’d follow logical steps up the ladder to success. To accelerate personal growth requires courage to leave a comfortable position (where you are at the top of your S-curve), and take a step back or sideways to try something new (starting at the bottom of a new S-curve) that will take you further over time.   Timing is important and good preparation before you jump to the next learning curve is essential for successful career advancement.

Here are a few tips to prepare for launch:

  1. Write down the functional and emotional elements that are important to you in a new role or job.
  2. Know your distinctive strengths and apply your special skills in a unique manner.
  3. Ensure your strengths align with the learning curve you are planning to undertake.
  4. Analyze how well your skills map to unmet needs.
  5. Be prepared to step down, step backwards or step sideways. When you’re seeking a new venture outside your comfort zone, you have to be prepared to invest in learning and developing before you can achieve success. For instance, to strengthen or learn new skills you may need to take a step back on the career ladder, or a step sideways into a new area of business and then learn the ropes.
  6. Embrace failure and use your experience wisely. If you welcome failure as a guide and teacher you’re more likely to find your way to success.
  7. Engage in discovery-driven planning where you have a plan but the outcome may be as yet unknown. If you pursue a disruptive course, you can’t see the top of the curve from the bottom and you may end up with a different result altogether.
  8. Follow the “equal odds rule”.  This rule basically states that success is a numbers game. The best strategy is to produce as much work as possible in order to provide more opportunities to create something meaningful. For instance, if you want to write a frequently cited paper, publish a lot. If you want a successful business, go to work. If you want to sharpen your skills as disruptor, disrupt. As Woody Allen brilliantly pointed out: “80% of success is just showing up”.

In her latest book “Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work” Whitney Johnson http://whitneyjohnson.com/ talks about the importance of driving innovation through personal disruption. Definitely an interesting and worthwhile read!

Go ahead and disrupt yourself to success!


The Female Leadership Advantage

23 Mar


Have you ever noticed how most words associated with leadership are masculine?

Manager, leader, boss, chief, officer, they all lack a feminine connotation. Historically leadership positions were a male stronghold and, even in corporate boardrooms today, the balance remains in their favor. Perhaps this was understandable in an industrial era but in today’s networked economy there is a need for more authentic, emphatic and collaborative leaders. And these happen to be just the skills that female leaders often have in abundance.

Authenticity in communications is vital for leadership in a changing business environment. Change creates anxiety and confusion and requires genuine and clear communications to build trust and confidence. Female leaders often have better communication skills and the ability to articulate a strategy with empathy helps to create optimism and clarity in uncertain times. This is a great asset to any management team that has to steer an organization through disruptive changes.

Collaboration between teams is more important today than it has ever been. With organizations becoming increasingly global, cross-cultural, and networked, leaders will need to find ways to inspire their teams using creative and collaborative tools. Female leaders often have good listening skills and relate well to others, which is important to ensure an inclusive approach to nurture innovation and new ideas. Their interpersonal skills and the ability to empower and engage team members are strong assets to help any organization deliver high levels of performance.

Creativity and the ability to spot opportunities are essential qualities for any good leader to ensure a sustainable, successful business. Female leaders are great at networking and use this to good effect to sow the seeds of ideas. Generous in their ability to give and open doors for others, they include all team members as they like to make in a difference in the lives of others. For any organization looking to create an open culture of innovation, they would do well to include female leaders on their teams.

Relationships are at the heart of any organization, and building strong, long-lasting relationships with clients, employees and other stakeholders are even more important in the digital age. Female leaders are specialists at cultivating relationships that are purposeful, genuine and meaningful. Connecting people and resources effectively, they thrive on creating and sustaining momentum for both themselves and others, using their caring and nurturing skills to best business advantage.

Socially conscious organizations tend to outperform others as they attract the best talent and have a more engaged workforce. Female leaders are natural givers and often prefer to serve a cause that advances social needs. They tend to be socially conscious leaders, looking at a long-term, sustainable strategy for organizations and a beneficial impact on the community at large.

Numerous research reports and surveys over the past few years have shown that engaging more female leaders contributes to growth, performance and prosperity. The time for change is now. Here is a call to action for all leaders to embrace diversity in the boardroom. A special call to action for all those talented women out there – use your female leadership advantage and encourage others to do the same!

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition” – Marilyn Monroe

Why don’t we have more Women Leaders?

17 Feb


A question raised in many board rooms around the world, and one that I recently discussed with my colleagues when tackling the challenges of creating a more diverse leadership culture. Particularly in tech environments – like IT – where the majority of the workforce is male, the number of women in leadership positions is staggeringly low.  In a recent McKinsey survey it was stated that the percentage of women on the management track drops from 53% of the entry-level workforce to 20% or less in leadership. Easy to explain, I can hear you say; about the time women would be ready for promotion, a lot of them leave to start families or work less to cope with a busy work/life schedule.

But is that really true? When I look around me I see the majority of women returning from maternity leave to continue their full time job. Very few can afford to stay at home; to raise a family is expensive and this usually means both parents need to be working.  Furthermore, many women find it important to pursue their career and are perfectly capable of balancing their personal/family and business lives.

So if they are still at work, and are not climbing the corporate ladder, where are they going? The McKinsey survey found that women are 50% less likely than men to aspire to the C-Suite, even if “anything was possible”.  That is not to say women are less ambitious, but they are either frustrated or resigned to the fact that opportunities in the company they work for are limited.  Often, they prefer to do good work instead of “wasting their time” playing corporate politics and one-upmanship. It is of vital importance that any organization looking to benefit from a more diverse leadership culture, pay attention to its promotion strategy. Are you promoting employees on their merits, or are you selecting them based on their fit within the “corporate club” or “old boy network”?

The Glass Box  When you do find women in more senior leadership positions, they can often be found in support functions such as HR, Communications, Marketing or Sales Support. It is still rare – but fortunately becoming more common  – that you see women in strategic roles such CEO or CFO.  There is not just a glass ceiling, preventing women to reach the top positions, but it is also very difficult to move laterally from a “soft” support role to a “hard” sales or operations role.  Organizations wanting to attract and retain female talent should provide a career development plan that includes a mix of different roles to nurture and develop the skills necessary for future leadership opportunities.

A new definition of success  Once they have hit their glass ceiling, the best and most confident women often decide to leave and become self-employed, giving themselves more flexibility and greater job satisfaction. Successful women are opting for a different way of working rather than pursue the traditional climb up the corporate ladder.  They value the quality of life, family time and career satisfaction that working independently can bring and, in doing so, are establishing a new definition of success. Being free to do good work, have a good work/life balance, feel appreciated and be financially secure while developing themselves in areas of their own choosing.  Companies would do well to consider a different approach to promotion and remuneration in order to attract female talent and ensure that women stay on and continue their careers successfully within the organization.

Organizations can’t afford to lose their female talent. In a business environment that is becoming increasingly social and collaborative, diverse teams with the right balance of male and female experts will be essential for companies to innovate and thrive in the future.

Inspiration Source: “Open letter to Corporate Leadership”, SwitchandShift –Sept.2013

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