Friday, 12 June 2015

Insights Into Leadership #2

This week I facilitated the second meeting of Today's Women Today's Leaders. Once again the group of women I first met in May came together to discuss leadership from a female perspective.

The topic of the day was 'Leadership and OTHERS' and the main aim was to explore how women can create a leadership presence for themselves and impact and influence those important others too.

Once again it was interesting to see how the discussion totally overcome any potential obstacle in the shape of different sectors, background or industry. The women continued to enjoy the discussion and jelled even more, so much that by the end of the morning they had a agreed to create a whatsapp group!

Once again as their facilitator I gained a number of interesting insights, which I share below:

#1 There is no leadership without strategy

Several commented upon their need to become more strategic, to take the next step having become very good at operational work. But strategy requires time to think and time to reflect and that seems to be a common 'missing link'. Also strategy requires more than 'hard work', it reques a game plan. This is something that attendees recognised to be not very good at. I am not sure this can be generalised but the point here is that women are more likely to just 'get on with the work' and if you are faced down buried into your work, you have hardly the chance to stick your head above the parapet !

#2 Authentic leadership requires mindfulness and a clear heart

We started the morning with a little mindfulness meditation following a five minutes prerecorded tape. I am only an 'amateur' when it comes to meditation but I totally acknowledge its value and help when it comes to clearing your mind and starting the day with the necessary calm. Yet some of the female participants seemed somewhat fidgety and in one case totally uncomfortable about it. There is no doubt that for many of us, males and females, the thought of 'just being', reconnecting and being present in the moment is still relatively alien and positively out of our comfort zone. We discussed this and the need to break through the comfort zone in order to enter the learning area - a concept relatively intuitive but actually difficult to implement.

#3 To increase your leadership presence you have to clearly understand power and who holds it

During the morning we run a stakeholders exercise, discussing the various aspects of mapping, analysis and managing stakeholders. I think it is fair to say that for many of the attendees it was the first time they had done this exercise and you could see that 'light bulb' moment happening when they actually began to think through who mattered, and why, and how they could communicate to them.
This in my view goes back to the point of being strategic and approaching leadership not just through hard work but also through a more systematic approach that includes networking and navigating the corridors and actually negotiation ( win - win being the ideal outcome) in order to win the minds as well as the hearts of people who matter.

So all in all another very beneficial morning for all those attending, including me. As one of the participants said ' The exercises you gave us in the first session really scared me because they required so much introspection' but a month later she was back for part 2.

Hopefully that means we are on a journey and there is no looking back?

Alessandra is a mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential. You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 

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