I’ve always thought that there’s too much emphasis in the world on highly talented, intelligent and accomplished people. Sure, it’s important to recognise and revere them – after all, these are the people who keep notching the progress dial forward for all of us.
But I’m also a great believer in the fact that each one of us is capable of incredible things and that we should all be encouraged and celebrated to do more.
Consider the following example:
Meet Sajda Mughal, MBE – a young Muslim woman who turned a dreadful experience into a force of good. Sajda is a 7/7 attack survivor. Setting out on an ordinary day at work, Sajda experienced her worst nightmare by being caught on one of the Underground trains at King’s Cross that was subject to the attacks on 7 July 2005. Having survived and picked up the pieces, Sajda set out to use her experience to change the world. She leads JAN Trust, a charity that aims to break down barriers to social inclusion for women, providing women from under-represented groups with a voice, combatting violence against women and providing young people the tools they may need to achieve their ambitions.
An ordinary woman who took matters into her own hands and is making a huge difference.
We all have it within us to accomplish extraordinary achievements. How many people do you know who run marathons, trek to the North Pole, write blogs, bake incredible cakes, sing like an angel or play the piano like Liberace? Ordinary people with extraordinary talents and achievements. Imagine if all these people – like you - used these rare skills not only for their own enrichment but to contribute to their communities or professional organisations. Imagine if companies learned how to tap into these hidden talent morsels and invite each one of us to contribute fully and authentically. Both the contributors and the companies would benefit.
But how do we do that? How do we as individuals channel our hidden talents into our professional lives? How do we as leaders empower colleagues to bring out what lingers behind the facade? How do we nurture and celebrate ordinary people with extraordinary contributions?
Find out on 21 June 2017 at Voice At The Table’s Flagship Conference: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Contributions. Featuring speakers who are walking the walk, you can be inspired by these role models who have found strength to share their hidden talents. You will learn how to encourage and nurture extraordinary contributions from colleagues and team members. You will meet the law firm partner who founded Inspiring Women, the athlete who is now helping other retired athletes to integrate into ordinary life. Find out how the man who calls himself a feminist is using his influence to help professional women get ahead and be moved by some extraordinary charities – run by ordinary people, like Sajda – who are changing the world, one person at a time.
Click here to find out how you can be a part of this movement!
Last week's international woman's day seems to have been the most popular we've had in a long time. Every company, organisation and network seems to have put on a celebration or event to mark the occasion. Much has been written about it and pledges have been undertaken to change the balance between men and women at work and in the economy.
But what strikes me most of all is how much talk there is about women being the solution for the upcoming future. By this I mean that there is much research and insight to point to the fact that organisations that don't take gender balance seriously are said to be walking on thin ice; organisations that are refusing to change will see others who will be prepared for the future pass them by. In other words, it is no longer the right thing to do or the nice thing to do for your business; ensuring that teams work on inclusive insights and that our leaders either possess many feminine leadership traits or are indeed women with those traits now appears to be a strategic priority.
Much is written directly about the influence and the impact of feminine leadership on business in the future. Take for example John Gerzema’s and Michael D'Antonio book “The Athena Doctrine”, which is based on research and surveys of 64,000 individuals. Published in 2013, the authors show that innovation and creativity can only be driven if one embraces feminine traits and values. Having tried hard to resist talking in terms of gender, John and Michael succumbed to the overwhelming evidence that makes a strong case in favour of gender balance. The book makes it clear that the different way men and women think and behave (in general) cannot be disregarded and that society’s values are changing to reflect those that are traditionally female. John and Michael talk about a new operating system that includes as many feminine traits as it does masculine.
Much is also written about the leadership styles of the future that - although not directly referencing feminine traits, talks about them as central to the success of any future business. Take for example the fact that millennials today don’t want to work for companies the sole mission of which is to increase shareholder returns. They care about the world as much as they do about their jobs. They no longer want to perform a task that contributes only to lining their own pockets. They care about legacy; they care about the environment; they care about social solutions to existing problems, all of which requires a different type of thinking. So what we read and hear about is how to work in teams and collaborate; how big decisions should bubble up from the surface rather than being pushed down from the top; we read about motivating and encouraging each other to perform the best we can and about valuing the differences that we each bring as individuals in the name of creativity and innovation. Name them as such or not, these are the so-called ‘feminine’ traits: collaboration, motivation, valuing others’ point of view, supporting each other and nurturing – these are the things that women tend to do more naturally than men. And now it seems that these behaviours are becoming a central point of a successful business; they are no longer the ‘nice to have’s’ for a pleasant working culture; they are the central machination of a successful working team. A company that embraces these traits and values is more likely to succeed in the future than one that doesn't.
But it is not just the survival of a business that makes this new operating system so relevant. This operating system also allows companies to utilise these attitudes as a competitive advantage. Creativity, innovation and diversity of thought are the cornerstones of ideas that lead to the discovery of new markets, the design of new products and the launch of new services. This new operating system allows companies to experience the world in a way that their customers might do and they might not. Once we learn to experience our surroundings from the point of view of another we start seeing things and solutions that weren't apparent before. This new mindset that opens our eyes to things we haven't seen before is what's going to make the difference between the company that survives and the company that thrives.
I have always believed in gender diversity - in its very basic form - diversity of thought and the value of the individual as a strategic priority for any business. It now seems that those who share my views are becoming more outspoken. If you are a business that wants to see itself thrive in the future then I suggest you start listening to those outspoken voices.
Rina Goldenberg Lynch