“The stakes are higher when the financial stakes are lower.” I think all volunteers can relate to this statement, shared with me by the CEO of a leading not-for-profit organization, on a bus ride back from the Women’s Forum in Deauville in 2014. It particularly stuck with me as I reflected on my upcoming transition out of a leadership role of a dynamic, purpose driven global NGO and paved the way for an outstanding new leadership team, keen to make their own mark on the association.
When there are not extrinsic or personal financials linked to performance, it is not surprising that one links other, intrinsic values to contributions and achievements. In my reflection I have come to realize that the intrinsic motivators are powerful beyond measure and that's a good thing. At the same time, a volunteer, intrinsic-based leadership role could easily become intertwined with one’s identity. Timely, intentional transitions, and early succession planning is necessary to sustaining momentum and a positive transition. I remind myself that the collection of equally important and dedicated network leaders, also going through regular transitions, is what creates an incredible platform for everyone to leverage. With that in mind, I am thrilled to welcome a new leadership team, the 7th Federation Board of PWN Global.
The strong and highly motivated leadership team will embrace the opportunity to take the network to a new stage of development and I am personally excited to see how things change, evolve and advance. As I have focused on my succession, I’ve paused to reflect on my personal journey. I have considered what I have gleaned from leading and supporting the transition to an outstanding new leadership team.
I have learned that virtual relationships are strengthened by a unifying common purpose that directly resonates with each leader personally and deeply. I have been reminded that sharing best practices, generosity and celebrating success all come hand in hand, and are a direct result of a unified, shared purpose within an organisation. Common humanity across our diverse cultures is what brings us together. I am convinced that our annual meetings where we share, debate, strategize and connect face-to-face, help us align and build bridges across our networks.
There is always someone outstanding who is ready to replace you. Embrace this.
What an organization needed from a leader yesterday may be very different to what is needed tomorrow to bring it to the next level. Do not equate value and contribution to an organization ready for change.
Intrinsic motivations are powerful catalysts and trump currencies of influence.
Volunteer leadership raises one’s sense of ownership as it is about giving your time and energy to a cause that deeply resonates with you.
All good things continue.
When the fundamentals are there and good governance practices prevail, an organization will only continue to thrive and grow, albeit perhaps differently and in entirely new ways to the former leadership. Most importantly, things advance.
The mission and purpose of an organisation is what truly holds it together. The leader is a mere facilitator of this.
Women generously support the advancement of other women. As network leaders transition it is imperative to walk behind, ahead and alongside with support, praise, admiration and motivation whenever possible.
“The stakes are higher when the financial stakes are lower.” This continues to resonate with me.
I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t acknowledge that part of my identity has been linked to leading, boosting and building PWN Global, given my involvement for the past 10 years as a board member and most recently as President. Seeing as financial rewards are not part of volunteerism, I learned that my “payback” came from the leadership learning and development, the incredible global relationships formed, the cross cultural insights garnered and shared, the growing community and the opportunity to go from purpose to impact. These have all increased in value as the network has expanded. I am incredibly grateful to have had the privilege of accompanying others on the journey to advancing women in leadership.
Succession planning has been on our agenda for the past year and it is exciting to see a new group of leaders taking the reins and embracing the next stage of PWN Global.
I believe our sense of ownership and accountability is amplified in a volunteer organization, or at least it was for me. Leadership at an NGO requires a generous spirit, a passion to make a difference, dedication to the cause and a lot of hard work. Perhaps it’s because we’re leading this For Purpose network from the head AND from the heart. You volunteer because of an intrinsic connection and PWN Global is all about this.
I have been reminded that one’s own success is directly correlated with the success stories shared by others who are connected to the network. Our volunteers and community are leading busy lives, professionally and personally, which creates challenges in accessing them, and fully leveraging them. My advice to the next Board of PWN would be not to take the silence personally, but to persist in trying to connect and empower our global community to get involved and push progress.
I’m excited about what the future holds and anticipating more free time to fill with new and interesting endeavors. As I get more engaged with my own business again, I also realize that regardless of what fills my newly found “space”, sharing and celebrating the wonderful stories of our members, boards, volunteer teams and successes of our city networks will be ongoing. These success stories are what make PWN Global thrive.
We have been inspired and uplifted by the amazing events delivered by our PWN volunteer teams around the globe in celebration of International Women's Day 2015. For me, IWD 2015 included two events; one with the PWN Paris team and the OECD, and the other was a celebration of the launch of our newest publication, Mixité, featuring real life stories of male CEOs who are fearlessly leading balanced leadership practices across their organisations. These men successfully leverage IWD, and every day of the year, to amplify their goals around gender balanced leadership.
This got me thinking about WHY it’s imperative that organizations like PWN and companies continue to raise the volume each year on IWD. The journey continues. The attention to IWD certainly stimulates dialogue on the topic and in turn adds to the momentum on positive change. Raising awareness on why women go from 50% in the classroom to less than 20% in executive committees and on boards generates thinking around behaviors, habits, practices, company norms and leadership biases that many be unconsciously impeding progress. It gets men, women, decision makers, to go from learners to courageous action leaders on this topic.
Lifting up IWD builds a sense of solidarity on the topic across organizations, across genders and generations. It’s hard to ignore the topic if all global organizations are celebrating IWD inside their companies as a way to stay economically competitive. It’s worth highlighting that China based Alibaba with the largest IPO in history promotes women in leadership as their “secret sauce” to success. IWD brings these stories to light, and through stories the words turn into actions.
Building a better and more engaged culture is another motivating factor to create IWD awareness inside and outside of global organizations. Just think about how50% of the talent would feel if their company leaders (to whom they dedicate the majority of their waking hours) ignored this highly recognized, social, business and cultural 21st century leadership topic. It’s key to keeping half the talent engaged.
And finally, it makes perfect business sense in a global, complex and changing economy. Reducing blind spots through diversity - of thought, ideas and solutions. Male and female leaders will reap the benefits through more successful business outcomes as a result of gender balance teams.
Until we attain a level of equal opportunity and equal success across sectors, we need to keep celebrating IWD.
We look forward to the day when it's redundant and we can celebrate ILD (International Leaders' Day | Women & Men Leading TOGETHER).