Last week, The Pipeline went to Working Futures Spring 2023 to present on “Why leadership programmes fail women, especially for women of colour.” Moreover, in a room full of Human Resource Leads from different organisations, we had an opportunity to hear from the keynote speaker, John Amaechi OBE who discussed a range of topics around the future of work and found that there were a few parallels in our sessions.
The former NBA Player, Professor John Amaechi OBE, has many accolades, from being an organisational psychologist, an award-winning international author to being an executive coach and the Founder of APS Intelligence Ltd. It was interesting to hear about his experiences, a lot of which he drew from his time as the first Briton to have a career in the NBA. He spoke fondly of one of his first coaches in America who helped him settle into the unfamiliar environment away from home and made him feel like he belonged by giving him experiences which his peers had. Leadership exists in so many different forms in different industries. Whether that be an NBA coach or a HR Director, the one thing in common is a good leader will be backed by a strong and committed team. As Professor Amaechi says, “How do your people speak of you as their manager or colleague?”
The future of work is HUMAN. In a world where we are constantly hearing of technological advancements and the growth of AI, the reality is that humans are competing with each other as well as machines for work and so it can be easy to see an employee as the number of sales they made, the KPI’s they hit… or didn’t hit. Furthermore, the workforce is constantly changing, and we hear of a myriad of new workplace trends such as quiet quitting, flexible working hours and one of the biggest being the hybrid working arrangements. So, as a leader of a team or an organisation, how does one navigate this maze that is the ever-changing workplace?
The new leader is bold, vulnerable and resilient.
Being bold is taking risks to get rewarding results. These risks can include hiring someone who does not look like yourself or someone who has completely new and fresh ideas which you are not used to. At The Pipeline, we recognise that only 7% of CEOs in the FTSE 350 are women but we also know that if the 120 companies with fewer than a quarter of their Executive Committees comprising women were to perform with the same profit margin as companies with more than a quarter of their Executive Committees comprising women, it would mean an additional £54 billion income to the UK economy.
Now, how do you keep these teams together? This is where vulnerability is imperative in the modern leader. Professor Amaechi described the need for human-centred leadership in the new workplace. Showing interest in your employees as a fellow human with children and parents rather than just another colleague. Creating psychological safety in the workplace is a concept The Pipeline talked about in our presentation; women are constantly having to be cautious about how they present themselves and communicate with others in order to be seen as appropriate for progression. When they are able to exude confidence and bring their most authentic self to work, they will feel comfortable to share ideas, ask questions and give feedback.
Resilience is essential in leaders in a world where we have unprecedented disruptions and economic uncertainty. This is something we talk about on our Programmes. Giving his own perspective, Professor Amaechi highlights that resilience should never be a constant. This is a reminder that regardless of the challenges and difficulties faced in the workplace, there must be barriers and a support system. Working at 100% all the time will only lead to employees stretching themselves to their limits leading to burn out. Being resilient is about bouncing back from adversity, it should not be the “new normal”.
When the leaders make an effort to be bold and vulnerable, they role model and give the opportunity to their team members and employees to be confident and resilient. Women are able to be more authentic, their energy is not drained by having to mask and be someone they’re not. In an open environment, women can be creative and experimental, promoting growth in them and the team they are in. Furthermore, the team has a clear shared purpose and are able to connect and collaborate effectively.
When leaders put people first, the results are endless.