To mark International Women’s Day, over 200 people gathered to attend the inspirational Omniwomen 2016 Summit. Here’s what Laura Crichton, Business Director at OMD UK, took away from the event.
The Omniwomen 2016 event opened with the shocking statistic that a mere 5% of UK businesses have a female CEO. Despite the gradual close in the gender diversity gap, it’s clear that leadership positions are not reflective of this moment.
With Leadership as our theme, we entered into a full day of inspiration, combining guest speaker forum with peer debate. Certain topics consistently surfaced, not only within the content, but within the very real conversations that buzzed throughout the day.
Three clear truths stood out to me, and I believe there’s something we can all learn from each.
- “Female” characteristics are pivotal to success in leadership
Emotional intelligence; empathy, emotion, passion, nurture and understanding all play a crucial role in developing values and trust. Both of which are necessary for a thriving business.
We’re talking about the skills that can’t be replaced by machines in the future and they form the values that underlie any company culture. Values in turn influence everything from hiring new staff, to behaviour and productivity.
Emotional intelligence also allows relationships to form, grow and be nurtured. Relationships are built on trust and ultimately, business success is based on strong relationships.
- Perfection is not reality
We’ve all heard the statistic that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Confidence and self-belief matters more than ability in this instance and seemingly pays back.
We also know that both men and women suffer from the “Imposter Syndrome” phenomenon; the fear of being exposed, or feeling like a fraud. Women, however, are more likely to let it impact their performance or career progression.
There is no magic wand to wave and make these truths disappear, but the lesson learned is that it’s OK to not be perfect. Don’t apologise and get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
- Recognise strength in others
Although discussed in the context of female leadership, I believe this applies to everyone.
The most successful people (think Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi) are not one-person wonders. They surround themselves with people who excel in the areas that they do not.
This is a truth based on holistic, inclusive leadership style. The ability to build a successful and diverse team requires one to know what they’re good at and more importantly, know what they’re not good at. Pull others up with you, help them flourish and have the confidence to let go.