Thursday 7 March 2013

Your Diverse Power Team, Startup Boards and What Women Bring to the Table - International Women's Day 2013

Suzanne Grant, Championing Entrepreneurship in Arabia #women #youth #design

I am still pumped, freshly off the keynote stage of How Women Work Qatar (HWW Qatar).  The Conference is the Brainchild of Carolin Zeitler and developed with the support of the Qatar Professional Women's Network. I want to mention that HWW Qatar is sponsored by IBQ. I believe there is a place for business to support community, and that should be encouraged. 

Back to the HWW Qatar stage. I was subtly waving the flag for entrepreneurship, and more loudly imparting the merits of women sitting at boardroom tables, amongst leadership teams and within communities. I am discovering that entrepreneurship and women are more closely intertwined than I originally considered, or they should be. 

It's not news that the strength of all groups and teams is greater than the sum of their parts, but it's less commonly known just how powerful creating diversity at leadership and advisory levels can be. Why this is true remains a mystery to many.  

So I did some homework after a help shout out on Twitter. The Credit Suisse Report on Gender Diversity explores why diverse teams function better: 

  • diverse groups bring broader perspective, 
  • diverse groups pay greater attention to detail, consider more data points and derive better solutions
  • a majority group improves its own performance when a minority joins the group
  • collective group intelligence improves when the style of interaction is more socially sensitive. Women are more socially sensitive and the communication dynamic of an all male group will change when women's voices are heard
  • more gender diverse boards tend to focus on customer satisfaction, clear communication, consider diversity and corporate social responsibility
  • male and female leadership styles and skills bring leadership balance to the group
  1. According to a NASA study, women's leadership styles can be characterised by task orientation, mentoring and the needs of others. All male teams are characterised by competitiveness,  and little sharing of personal concerns. 
  2. According to McKinsey studies, there are nine key criteria that define any good leader. Women apply five of these nine leadership behaviours more frequently than men. Women are good at defining responsibilities clearly and are strong at coaching and mentoring employees. Men are better at taking individual decisions and corrective actions should things go awry. 
The magic of diverse thinking, perspective and interactions can combine to fuel powerful results. When building boards of directors, advisory and leadership teams, when seeking mentors, the diversity card is far from wild and more a natural outcome of human behaviour. 

All diversity, including gender diversity, helps to build better teams, better businesses and when we listen to all voices within our communities, a better world. 

The following is an International Women's Day address from Rodger Harding, who has personally inspired me to be more actively vocal. He speaks directly to the essence a woman's style.  

An International Women's Day Message from Rodger Harding 

On this important day I salute those remarkable women whose innate service-orientation drives their ability to observe, listen and intuit. Your preparedness to engage not only identifies what has to be done, but also inspires those who need to take the required action!  

International Women’s Day also provides the occasion to acknowledge all those who take the time to see, access, validate and enable the potential of deserving women.

My 3 decade career, served on 3 continents, has left me with little doubt that the human aspect of women leadership, bringing empathy, acceptance, flexibility and adaptability, is indispensable to the sustenance and advancement of the species! 

On a personal level, I am humbled by those women who see me for who I am…For understanding the coexistence of perfection and imperfectionstrength and vulnerabilityconfidence and insecuritywisdom and fallibility....!  

Thank you!

Harding International and Associates Inc. | International Women’s Day

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