The “If not, why not” diversity question your organization needs to be asking now

This article was first published in VALIDITY COACHING’S FORETHOUGHT newsletter:

The “If not, why not” diversity question your organization needs to be asking now

gender_equality_by_meppolThere has been considerable debate in recent media and boardrooms following the announcement in December 2009 by the ASX Corporate Governance Council of their proposal to expand the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations to require each entity listed on the Australian Securities Exchange to adopt and disclose a diversity policy that includes measurable objectives relating to gender.

Within their suggested diversity policy, listed entities will be required, on an “if not, why not?” basis, to disclose in their annual report:

  • Their achievement against the gender objectives set by their board; and
  • The number of women employees in the whole organization, in senior management and on the board.

Alongside the new recommendations, changes will be made to the guidance commentary to:

  • Encourage nomination committees of listed entities to include within their charters a requirement to continuously review the proportion of women at all levels in the company. Commentary will be required to highlight the responsibility of the nomination committee to address strategies on board gender diversity and diversity in general.
  • Require that the performance review of the board include consideration of diversity criteria in addition to skills
  • To disclose what skills and diversity criteria they look for in any new board appointment.

There has been much lip service paid to the issue of gender balance in the past, and with the council expecting to provide an exposure draft of the proposed changes to the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations for public consultation in early 2010, with an anticipated implementation date of 1 July 2010, soft-discussions will no longer suffice.

Many organizations who have promoted an equal opportunity and pro-women position, still have considerably fewer numbers of women in senior executive level positions or at the board than their male counterparts.  When they do, they tend to skew towards what is perceived to be the “soft skilled” roles of Human Resources, Customer Services and Marketing.  Evidence has proved that a more balanced gender representation across organizations has not necessarily followed the talk.

It is expected that by placing this issue firmly at the boardroom table, the question of “if not, why not” will be applied.  However every manager at all levels of an organization should be looking at the answers to the question of “why are we at this point at all?”

What are the barriers to building greater gender diversity?

One of the biggest barriers to gender diversity is an organization’s (and broader profession’s) cultures built around people’s historically-based and inherent beliefs, behaviours and biases. Generally these are around the previously designed and seen to be successful roles of the “perfect worker” and that of the “perfect mother”, which can also be culturally and socially reinforced.

It is unlikely that organization’s today would have an overtly discriminatory or conscious block to women progressing with equal opportunity into senior ranks. In the majority of cases the barriers are more likely to be delivered through indirect organizational messaging and policies, poor role-modelling, inconsistent behaviours, little formalized support, too little flexibility and too few examples.

In a Catalyst research paper of 2007 that collected responses of 1231 male and female participants across US & EMEA titled “The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Dammed if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t”, found that women faced clear predicaments in the workplace that their male counterparts didn’t.  Some of these were around stereotyped expectations and behaviours. The Predicaments found for women in the research included:

  1. Extreme Perceptions – Too soft, too tough, and never just right. When women acted in ways that are consistent with gender stereotypes, they were viewed as less competent leaders and when women acted in ways that are inconsistent with such stereotypes, they were considered unfeminine.
  2. The High Competence Threshold – Women leaders face higher standards and lower rewards than male leaders. Respondents’ comments revealed that women leaders are subjected to higher competency standards. On top of doing their job, women have to prove that they can lead, over and over again and manage stereotypical expectations constantly.
  3. Competent but Disliked – Women leaders are perceived as competent or liked, but rarely both. Respondents’ comments revealed that when women behave in ways that are traditionally valued for men leaders (e.g. assertively), they are viewed as more competent, but also not as effective interpersonally as women who adopt a more stereotypically feminine style.

In summary, gender stereotypes misrepresent the true talents of women leaders and can potentially undermine women’s contributions to organizations as well as their own advancement options.

The consequences of not dealing with culture can be dire to organizational strength.  Here in Australia, Melbourne Business School associate professor Isabel Metz (as reported in The Australian Financial Review), managed to survey 44 senior women who left the banking and finance sector to verify their reasons for departure.

Although the sample was small, the findings speak volumes.  Almost half (45 per cent) of the interviewees who left their jobs after returning from maternity leave, abandoned plans to continue working for their organisation because of unfriendly work-family rather practices that didn’t give them a fair opportunity to return or to continue to work, such as a lack of part-time positions or expectations of very long work hours.

And Twenty-seven per cent of the women cited broken employment promises and legal obligations upon their return from maternity leave as a primary reason for their departure.

The reason we don’t hear much about these soft-discriminatory practices in organizations is the negative stereotyping or consequences in future employment for women who are seen to be “taking up the torch” or “mounting campaigns” that promote the rights, opportunities and equal numbers of women in the organization.  Women can also feel the consequences of resentment amongst her peers and her seniors from those who see the argument as one-sided and that the issues of unfriendly work-family practices impact both male and female workers equally. 

Some women who have made it to the top and have children and who are seen to be making themselves available 24/7 can also face negative stereotyping by others who believe they are not meeting their family responsibilities or are not setting the right example of balance to others.  This issue of stereotyping is unlikely to be applied in the same way to their male counterparts working in the same way.

Needless to say the question from most should be “what type of organization puts pressure on female and male employees to be available to work 24/7 or excessive hours over long periods of time”.   The burning and churning of talented and professional people, whilst maybe fuelling innovative SME start-ups, eventually takes its toll on larger organizations. 

Organizations are looking to see how they can address the issues of work/life balance and flexible work practices to ensure talent growth and energy-sustainability and to secure a continuous tap into the much wider and more experienced talent pool. It is about having the courage to allow talent to spawn in organizations – without trying to camouflage it with gender biases.  The financial benefits will follow.

Organizations of the future will see the question of gender diversity not being about the issue of developing women as a “special needs” program – it will instead focus on creating contexts in our eco-systems that provide women and all employees with opportunities to deliver value.

Organizations will focus much more around the greater opportunity of individual talent management and contribution.  If you have a star performer or developing talent with loads of potential, irrespective of gender, the organization will work to provide a custom program of development to help them realize their success in all aspects that are important to them – in their careers, personal, health, spiritual and social lives. The real job of managing will be to remove barriers, provide employees with the right resources, step out of the way and allow them to shine.

The way employees work, where they work, when they work will be inconsequential to how they successfully deliver the desired results and work with others in the organization.  No single rule, no single mould nor “one rule to suit the majority” will prevail. 

This type of flexible work environment will require some overhaul and change of existing systems, but these usually follow the change first in expectations and determinations of an organization’s working culture.

Supporting Gender Diversity through an organizations culture:

In addition to setting quota targets, there are some practical considerations you and your organization can consider today in answering the question of “if not, why not”:

  • Include in management agendas and communications messaging and discussions designed to bring desired cultural and behavioural changes to address gender diversity
  • Look at the requirements of the positions and determine if there are any gender bias and overhaul the specifications focusing on what business outcomes are looking to be delivered.(Research has shown that traditional managerial roles are set-typed as masculine, meaning that characteristics deemed necessary to be a successful manager are stereotypically associated with men).
  • Expose career paths & all aspects of business to your talented people.  The more visible the paths are to the top, the more choices provided to get there, the more experiences made possible and clearly made available to all talented employees irrespective of gender across the organization, the more likely the balanced take up from both sexes.
  • Identify & name your top talent – equally looking for talented female and male candidates who may be at different stages of their careers and develop custom programs to help them realize their career potential and aspirations.
  • Introduce a strong mentoring & coaching program – engaging both external and internal coaches to help executive women plan, prepare and realize their career aspirations
  • Identify where corrective coaching and changes are required to remove perception, stereotyping, behaviours and other barriers or current limitations across the senior leadership and management team
  • Encourage, introduce and financially support official networking engagements (professional & social), cross-function teamwork & leadership groupings.  Encourage these networks to be built both within and external to the organization to ensure exposure to strong role models, mentors, and key decision makers  
  • Develop and suggest strategies for promoting flexible working environments, removing barriers that allow people to deliver in diverse and flexibile environments and time frames
  • Invite, encourage, promote and champion advocates and change-drivers for gender diversity (& diversity in general) in your organization.
  • Encourage female senior executives to take an active role at mentoring, coaching & championing what is possible and identifying the key ingredients for their success.  

The old adage of “what gets measured gets done” is one of the implied principles of the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s recommendations.  One step short of enforced quotas, it relies more on the position of “naming & shaming”.  The more visibility bought to specific numeric gender targets, strategies and progress, the more likely they will be achieved. 

It is a shame that it will take legislation to put this issue and opportunity for business growth on the table.  There is much evidence to prove that diversity in the workforce is something an organization can capitalize upon.   

Our roles and responsibilities as leaders, as investors, as employees, as industry representatives – will be to hold organizations accountable for gender diversity.  Action is required and the clock is ticking. 

VALIDITY COACHING is a key sponsor of the HR Summit 2010.

The Power of People Publishing

An interesting day for media with three stories that illustrate some of the big areas of change that are already underway.

First we have the sad and terrible news of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti. 

Although media publishers were quick to pick it up, it was the virtual real-time publishing of images and details of the desolation and casualties that were published directly from the ground via Twitter (#Haiti, #Earthquake, #Help Haiti).  This early reporting was quickly picked up on blogs and Facebook posts around the world, spreading the news to significant numbers of people which only latter made its way to official news services.

Mobile Phones and the Japanese by CocoarmaniThis is not the first time real-time reporting has come from and been shared by individual people who have already been “qualified” as being valued and newsworthy by their followers.

We also had the move today (Sydney time) by Google who threatened to quit China by announcing it will challenge the strict Chinese censorship rules that ban discussion or viewing images on topics deemed sensitive and “vulgar” by the government. 

David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer of Google announced Google are “no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next  weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”

Although Google have announced they will work with the government to find a way to provide uncensored access to the web, it will be interesting to see whether a compromise can be found and who it will come from. 

Google are responding to the identification of a sophisticated attack late last year on the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists using its gmail service and indicated a further 20 other global organizations were also targeted.

Although Google do not have dominant market share for online search in China, they do carry significant weight in the political and business leadership sphere and thus it will be interesting to see what impact and potential influence it will have on business should Google choose ultimately to withdraw.

Finally today we have the move by Murdoch  to restructure The Australian by creating a separate corporate division for the national broadsheet which is its traditional method for distributing news.  This move is positioned by News Limited Chairman and Chief Executive John Hartigan to help it pursue “the significant expansion of our ambitions”.  This ambition is widely reported and on record by News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch as desiring to charge for online news content this year.

It seems to me that the Haiti example proves yet again how powerful and how quickly news and images can be shared when people put their mind to it and when people feel passionate about something.

Improving technology will allow for increasingly faster spread of information and utilization via people, niche groups and SMEs.  The historical one-size-fits-all approach by business and media will not exist in the future because it will be too easy for others to enter the market and who can provide at no or low cost, a more personalized, intelligent, relevant alternate option.

And no matter how powerful a government may be, if enough people move against their policies and restrictions, the walls will fall.  Perhaps initially at great penalty and personal loss to individuals, but never enough to overcome the power of people’s collective free-will.  And this is where new media will have its place in connecting groups of like-minded people who can easily organize their own dissemination of information, protests and actions.

Google today is at a cross-road.  It will be interesting to see how they play their cards.  Will they look only to the revenue that can be generated, irrespective to the cost of basic human rights and freedom (the answer today has been yes they will)?  Or will they take a powerful leadership position that becomes the catalyst for wider change and pressures from international governments and organizations? 

The power of people via social media played a significant role in communicating Iranian dissent and protest around the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time where the Iranian government barred journalists from reporting on “unauthorized demonstrations”.

As TIME’s Lev Grossman reported at the time “Twitter didn’t start the protests in Iran, nor did it make them possible. But there’s no question that it has emboldened the protesters, reinforced their conviction that they are not alone and engaged populations outside Iran in an emotional, immediate way that was never possible before. President Ahmadinejad — who happened to visit Russia on Tuesday — now finds himself in a court of world opinion where even Khrushchev never had to stand trial.”

And so we come back to Murdoch and the move for “The Australian” to begin charging for its online news. For them to do so News Limited will need to overcome the same news which will be available online from competing news publishing mediums including the ABC News.  Digital medium lends itself to quick, fast, easy-to-read communications so holding a position of people paying for “quality news reporting” will be difficult to defend.

They will also need to overcome the news that will be made available from the reporting and sharing from individuals and niche providers.

There is always an opportunity for businesses to charge for something that helps makes someone’s life easier, better and more wonderful than it was before and for as long as you are the only one able to provide it. 

Since this is not a new concept, I am assuming News Limited will explore ways in which they can charge for news that meets that criteria. 

However my bet, reinforced by today’s news and examples, is with people publishing.

The power of people publishing is the future of news.

The extinction of the technoignoramus

ROFLMAO tshirt from fortunecity“TITF” (pronounced tit-ef) my nearly 14-year old son said to me as I lectured him on his responsibilities. 

“What?”

 “TITF – you have Taken It Too Far” he said as he rolled his eyes and sighed again in frustration.

Well yes of course I have.  I used words not acronyms for one thing.

Within days of this experience my friend told me about her 17 year old daughter who looked deadpan at her as she completed a joke and said without a hint of sarcasm “lol”. Clearly using the abbreviated form of “laugh out loud” was more efficient then actually breaking into laughter or even smiling. 

Another friend told me of his son who had an intriguing t-shirt on – one with a picture of Chairman Mao on the front with a picture of Rolf Harris on the back and the word “ROFLMAO”.  Obvious to his son and his friends (and probably anyone under the age of 21) was the clever use of these images with a well-known instant messaging short-hand statement.  To the uninitiated, this stands for “Rolling On Floor Laughing My Arse Off”.

My six and ten year old daughter’s are learning mathematics through an online tool that not only provides relevant and prescribed homework activities, but allows them to “dual” with anyone at the same level who is online anywhere around the world. Assuming that they don’t want to just work to improve their personal best and total scores which allow them to move up levels and win prizes.  

If they play with their Nintendo DS’s together or with friends – they can link up, see each other virtually and send visual or text messages to one another. They learn through interactive smart boards and are encouraged to remember their security log-in and to email their “safe” friends at school.  Online G-rated games allow them to collect virtual points then shop for branded goods – often advertisements for the latest and greatest toy or gadget slyly marketed as movies. 

Don’t worry about spelling – they happily use and rely on auto-correct and voice recognition tools saving their minds for more creative pursuits.

And these are just a few examples of how, where and when technology forms part of their lives already at such a young stage.

It thus makes for an interesting time for any business who wants to appeal to and attract a younger audience – whether this is as potential customers or as employees.  Technology is deeply integrated in their lives and is considered as important to them as oxygen is to the rest of us.  This is regularly reinforced to me as I use the threat of technology bans as my preferred tool to generate positive behavioural change in my children. 

Technology is how they connect, communicate, conduct relationships, learn, evaluate, play, shop, design, share, promote, read, relax and even simply be a fan of their favourite band and brand.  They are able to read moods, decipher genuine and honest representations, find and filter quickly to relevant information and multi-task across multiple platforms.

They connect and share information through SMS, Instant Message, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked in, Bebo, Orkut, QQ, or their personal blogs.  They share information in groups and communities all of which take precedence over checking their 1 to 1 email (most applications are not smart enough for the way they wish to engage when you can reach 1 to many through other mediums). 

They scan a web page, click and watch the first seconds of a video to see if they will give you the next 10 seconds of their attention.  Communicating your message quickly and succinctly is no longer an art, it is a necessity to get cut-through and engage this generation. 

In business, we increasingly rely on technology to manage most aspects of our customer and employee relationships and engagements.  While there is much value in face to face daily transactions, I have seen first-hand the smartest and brightest employees sitting a metre apart instant messaging each other rather than engaging in verbal communication. 

It is not that they can’t verbalize, it is just they find instant messaging a much more efficient form of communication.  There is much to be said and done, and abbreviating it, using shortcuts or forums to share solutions easily changes the scale of reach from 1:1 to 1: infinite. And this is able to be done much more quickly and efficiently than ever before. 

Sharing knowledge and thoughts instantly in forums and in collaborative enterprise wiki’s now forms the basis for other’s future education.  It can act as a referencing and training tool for employees, partners and customers.  It is easy to see how it has more potency and is far more powerful than communicating individually and sequentially.  Collaborative documentation tools make easy task of finding, reviewing and tracking of content that can be accessed by many.

Many years ago when I joined a progressive technology company, I joked about how I was the “technoignoramus” of the company.  I knew if I didn’t actively seek to understand, embrace and use the latest technologies I was going to become irrelevant, maybe even extinct. 

Recognizing that there was a gap in my knowledge regarding emerging technologies, I made it my business (and eventually helped me lead the business) in determining how, when and what were the best ways to leverage these new technologies within our products and our enterprise solutions.

This resulted in a growing of the product development roadmap and changing from heavy self-developed software applications to those that were available and supported in the internet “cloud” – much more accessible and beneficial to our moving global workforce. We were able to reduce communication costs through the use of Skype and deliver extended customer training programs using video and having it supported through YouTube.  

Today I still continue to seek knowledge and look to participate in using new and available technologies in order to better understand them. I will play with them, use them, observe others using them, read about them and link to them. This has formed an important element in the role I now play in assisting other businesses and individuals understand where technology fits into their overall business, marketing and customer engagement strategy and see how best they can be leveraged.

With all of this technology around us, it still surprises me how many baby boomers and generation X’s still resist embracing new technology and social networking platforms. 

They cite discomfort about strangers knowing something about them or the arduous chore of sorting through meaningless messages to find those of interest or value.

The one I have seen many shudder at is the concept of “follower” on Twitter.  Somehow this is equated as “stalker” to some.  Certainly in business if you have a bunch of potential customers and partners interested enough to stalk you, this can only be a good thing, right?  They actually tell you who they are, tell you they want to follow you so that they can hear what you have to say, and to whom and what you recommend.   And you can choose what it is that you share with them.

At a personal level it is about understanding the different available platforms, the controls you have and the intent of the people you choose to “friend” or “follow” and who you allow to follow you. You need to be comfortable about what information you provide and finding your comfort levels about reading and seeing information about others.  One of the rules I follow is one I was taught many years ago – don’t ever write anything you would not wish to show your grandmother or would not want published or have attributed to you on the front page of the national papers.

 Advantages of using technology are many – especially in being able to stay abreast of your own personal data and of others that you are interested in, their life successes, major events and challenges.  I recently easily organized and could keep track of both a common interest group and a family event using Facebook. 

I am able to take my office everywhere with me on my iphone which can double as my entertainment tool allowing me to watch the latest TED video or listen to my favourite songs.  I can publish my own blog through WordPress (which has surprised and thrilled me at the size of my readership).  I am able to easily keep in close contact with global friends and colleagues.  I have been able to meet people and new businesses and have opened up many new relationships or rekindled older relationships that previously were either dead or dormant through using a combination of online networking and communication tools.    

There certainly can be no safety in the expression “technology is not for me” or “technology is too scary” or “I delegate technology to others”.  I fear for those who take confidence in standing behind the good old days with statements like “I believe in personal, intimate face to face interaction and in protecting my privacy and those of others”.  In the past fortnight I have personally heard each of these statements.  And unfortunately, none of them for the first time.

I know I don’t know everything.  In fact I am far behind many leading technology pioneers.  But I make it my business to become an early adopter and stay abreast of technology trends and changes. This helps me understand how they are utilized, where they work and fit in to the bigger personal, social, product roadmaps and commercial pictures.  I see this as part of a strategy to help me stay relevant now and into the future and I urge you to do the same.

To be able to engage and be relevant to the broader population, especially the generations that follow us, both you and I can not afford to be a technoignoramus. 

If you choose to stay closed to embracing and using new technologies, your days of being relevant or being heard or understood by others may in fact be numbered.

More for Less for More

Earlier this year I was at a conference and was lucky enough to hear Dr. R.A. Mashelkar  present an inspiring address on Gandhian Engineering.  A concept that incorporates the principles of doing more (providing more features, more services, more  value) for less cost to make it more accessible and available to much larger numbers of people.  Hence the phrase “More for Less for More”.

Tata Nano Car WhiteAn example of this was the launch earlier this year of Tata’s radically innovative car, the Nano.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi, Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors said, “I observed families riding on two-wheelers – the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby. It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family”.  He challenged his organization to think differently about the problem and they did.  Only a few years later they delivered the Tata Nano, a “comfortable, safe, all-weather car, high on fuel efficiency & low on emissions” for approx US$2000.

Tata received more than 200,000 orders in the 3 week period following its launch in March. Today they can produce approx 3,000 cars per month.  A small number considering the demand . 

However with increased production capacity being addressed, we will see over time improvements in quality and consistency, and the addition of features likely to be provided at an even lower price.  And of course the competition will follow benefiting greater numbers of people.

Already there are announcements by a number of car manufacturers that they too will be entering this low end/low emission category including the bigger, more well-known names.   The Japanese car industry turned the car industry on its head once before.  They lead with price and followed with quality.  The same is happening with Korean cars now and we will soon see the same with Chinese and Indian automobile brands to follow.  Large-scale change can and will occur and accessible and affordable cars will be available to those who require a safe form of transportation, and who were previously locked out, in the near future.

The challenge is certainly there for businesses to think about how best to serve and care for the 6.8 billion people we have on this earth.  There are two aspects which drives the need for businesses to broaden their current thinking:

  1. The ubiquitous nature of the internet & wireless technologies – the increasing speed of technology for increasingly commoditized (and thus reduced) pricing is making it easy for people all around the world, including within developing nations,  to connect and transact with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  The flattening of the world opens up additional markets – more product choices for people, more potential customers for business. The greater the global demand, the more solutions will exist in logistically moving or upgrading goods and services around the world.
  2. The expanding social and environmental conscience – the ever-increasing pressure to evaluate our footprint on the world and the increasing gap awareness in wealth between nations.  This will continue to grow as the consequences of our current policies and actions continue to become better understood, and the forums for voting with your feet become more common.

With increased competition as the world continues to flatten, businesses will require greater creativity and innovation from their people.  Without a model for constant and differentiated innovation, businesses will suffer and ultimately become irrelevant.  Increased competition from the developing nations will continue to place pressure on value for money. 

And as price drops due to competitive and consumer pressures, so will margins.  Thus there will be a requirement (not just an opportunity) to sell to more people together with an increased requirement to build meaningful, personal relationships with customers.  This will drive the way organizations will think about their product or service offerings in the future.

A decision will need to be made by businesses. 

Do they cater for a few customers and charge a premium or do they rethink their business model and approach with the objective to do “more for less for more”?  Both models will require continuous innovation and competition will require them to define how they are going to keep doing it better than anyone else.

I applaud the technology, medical, science and engineering organizations who are already thinking this way.  Interestingly this approach increases profits for most of those organizations. But real revolution starts with awareness by a bunch of like-minded people that things need to change for the better.  Revolutionaries’ prophesize through education, communication and real example, encouraging more and more of the general population to follow and take action.

It poses an interesting question to every one of us:  What responsibility can we take in our every day decisions to stamp out oppression, poverty, hunger, poor health, and environmental damage?

 In every decision we make – either business or personal – how can we make an impact on providing equal opportunities for people to thrive no matter where they are located?  Can we offer more for less for more people?

The questions may seem big, the actions we make may seem little, but every one of them will make a positive difference.

Leading your business to success

Written by Emma Lo Russo and as published in the July 2009 “Australian Businesswomen’s Network” newsletter:

Leading your business to success

Leadership.  Picture by Denis ColletteYou have the title, a team that reports to you and a defined business purpose and responsibility. The business environment and competition is tough and you are looking at new ways to ensure continued growth and success. You spend night and day wondering what else you can do, what extra advantage you can create…

It is likely you already hold that advantage. And the answer is your own employees. You can easily move from managing them to do their job (even if you do this aspect very well), to leading them to achieve something far greater – for themselves and for your business.

Understanding the difference between management and leadership

Management is about getting the best out of resources, mostly through defining responsibilities and processes, to further the goals of the company. ‘Leadership’ on the other hand is painting a common view of the future and inspiring and galvanising your team towards achieving it.

There are some key leadership characteristics and qualities to embody if you hope to achieve a powerful business advantage through your people. A key aspect is understanding that your people are entirely your business. They provide the moment of truth every time they interact with your customers, partners, suppliers, each other etc. It is important that they share and believe in the aspirations for your company. That they can see how to align their communications and activities they do every day to the greater picture you have of success, and how that can in turn help them enjoy and benefit from that success.

Acknowledging, encouraging, empowering your people to act in harmony with your vision and values is far more powerful than prescribing what you want and outlining precisely how they should be doing it.

Empowering your people

Regularly sharing your vision and plans for the future and encouraging your team to help visualise success will help stimulate growth. Looking to your people to help identify the best growth opportunities and providing regular forums for your employees to present their ideas can help grow your business. Acknowledge all good ideas, empower your people to own those ideas and reward them when they help you get to where you want to go faster. The more you can celebrate success with your employees, the greater the performance culture you are creating.

Tips to help you lead your organisation to success:

  • Paint a common view of the future and translate your vision and strategy into workable goals for your employees
  • Share your vision regularly, applying short and long-term frame of references for all projects and activities
  • Live and promote your desired culture and values
  • Model integrity in decisions, communication and treatment of people – always lead by example
  • Recognise others’ strengths and limitations – focus on building teams around individual employees'(and your own) strengths
  • Coach, mentor and develop your team – help your team members develop self-awareness and strive for personal development, helping them align their career aspirations with your business goals
  • Inspire, encourage and acknowledge action and commitment from your employees

When thinking about leadership, it is good to reflect on the line “follow me, I am right behind you”.

If you lead through inspiration, suggestion and example then your team will follow, encourage others and deliver you greater success.

To read the article in context and others on leadership go to:

http://www.abn.org.au/womeninbusiness/newsletterissue79/Leadership-Strategies-for-Women/index_landing.html

To follow Emma on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EmmaLoRusso

Taking your product to market – How to turn your product into a business

Emma presented the topic “Taking your product to market – How to turn your product into a business” at BootUpCamp, an intensive workshop where participants go from an idea to a fully operational web business in two weeks.

To watch Emma’s presentation go to:

Part 1: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/10/

Part 2: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/11/

Part 3: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/12/

Part 4: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/13/

Startup Australia – Exercise for Entrepreneurs

Emma presented the topic “Taking your product to market – How to turn your product into a business” at BootUpCamp, an intensive workshop where participants go from an idea to a fully operational web business in two weeks.

BootUpCamp ran July 11 – July 24, 2009.

For more details go to www.startup-australia.org/bootupcamp

To watch her presentation go to:

Part 1: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/10/

Part 2: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/11/

Part 3: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/12/

Part 4: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/13/