The Secrets to being a Great Woman Leader of a Diverse Company

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How to Be a Great Woman Leader of a Diverse Company

In today's business environment, diversity in leadership is more than a trend; it is a necessity. With diverse leaders paving the way, companies can thrive with innovative ideas, new perspectives, and a workplace culture that radiates inclusiveness.

Janine Darling, the founder and CEO of Stash Global Inc., shares her insights on how to embrace and thrive as a great woman leader in a diverse company.

Understanding Diversity in Business

Being a great leader in any environment, diverse or not, requires understanding the essence of diversity. It's often construed as gender-based, but it is much broader. The roster includes varying races, beliefs, cultures, and even personal traits. It's about acknowledging and welcoming different perspectives and creating a culture of inclusion.

Diversity isn't just desirable; it's vital for a thriving workplace. Here's why:

  • It fosters innovation through varied perspectives and ideas.
  • It helps prevent groupthink, which can hinder innovation.
  • When employees can express themselves without fear, it allows for open, productive conversations.

Leadership and the Impact of Diversity

Leadership shapes a company's diversity agenda. Transparent conversations about diversity and inclusiveness must be frequent and across all levels of the company. Leaders should acknowledge and support cognitive differentials - the unique ways people think – which can be a gamechanger for decision-making in business.

Being a Great Woman Leader in a Diverse Environment

To be a great woman leader in a diverse company, embody these principles:

  • Be Transformational: Advocate for diversity initiatives within your company. Your voice matters.
  • Authenticity: Be your authentic self, always. Women often lead differently than men, and that's an asset.
  • Respect: Give respect to earn respect.
  • Trustworthy: When things go well, credit those responsible. When they don't, accept responsibility and work towards a solution.

The Challenges of Leadership and Embracing Emotional Intelligence

Leadership comes with its share of challenges. Disagreements, gossip, and misunderstandings are par for the course, but they can be navigated with emotional intelligence (EQ) and resilience. Leaders need self-awareness, self-regulation, and strong social skills. Let empathy guide your interactions, maintain a positive attitude, and remain motivated.

The Impact of Diversity on Business

Diverse leadership statistically improves the financial performance of a business; it makes the company an attractive place to work and helps promote equality.

Key Takeaways

In summary, to be a successful woman leader in a diverse company:

  • Give and receive respect.
  • Do what is right.
  • Maintain transparency and authenticity.
  • Be introspective and encourage it in others.
  • Check in and communicate with everyone at all levels in the company.

True leadership leaves a lasting impact, influencing others to be better even in the leader's absence. To connect with Janine Darling, email directly or contact her through Stash Global. She'd love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have.

Boost your journey of being a remarkable woman leader with these insights and more. Remember, you can rise to the top and lead a diverse company towards success. Trust in your capabilities, stay authentic, and lead with empathy.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone. Um Welcome to How to be a great woman leader of a diverse company. I am Janine, darling, the founder and CEO of Stash Global Inc, a data centric security company. And I'm really happy to be with you today. Can everybody hear me? OK?If you can't just leave a note in chat and we'll take care of it for you. Um I'm going to have a conversation with you in this presentation and I'd love it if you have any questions to put them in chat. And at the end, uh hopefully there'll be a few minutes of time to address them. And if not, I will certainly collect the questions and you can either be in touch with me on the last page. There are ways to be in touch or um I will try and be in touch with you. So why don't we get started? I thought because we're talking about diversity that we should really understand what diversity means. So we're gonna touch on that in a way that's a little granular before we get into um how to be a great leader in a, in a diverse environment. And then the key takeaways that really make the most difference, whether you're a CEO or whether you are VP or whether you're a manager of the department, we're all leaders and leadership needs to really just flow throughout companies in order for it to be effective.

So let's talk about diversity just for a few minutes. So you can see at the top that diversity is a variety or an assortment. And I think that when we think about diversity as it applies to the business environment, it is most often thought of as gender, men versus women. And now has expanded of course to include all genders, which is a topic of conversation that is really in an emergent state, right? We, we're really thinking about men versus women still at this point in time. But it's so, so so important to think of diversity, you know, as all the words that you can see in the word bubble there, you know, people who are of different races who were raised in different ways, who have different beliefs and cultures and who might be extroverted or introverted and have different ha habits and are financially sec secure or not and are really motivated or very Zen, right?

There's a lot of different diversity that goes into life and certainly within the business environment and as leaders, we have a unique position because we are part of that diversity, right? We're women and so we are still a bit of a minority in business though, not much, almost half of women uh make up the business environment now. But in terms of leadership, we are still a bit behind. So it's really important to think about all of these things as we forward um the inclusiveness for all different kinds of diversity and it matters because if we want diversity, we actually have to bring people into the as in our companies who are diverse, you can't just hire people that you're comfortable with.

There's, there's an element of uncomfortableness about bringing in people who have different ideas who look different, who think differently. But this is what makes a great company is people with different povs, right? So you have to be intentional about diversity as a leader.

You have to make it easy for people to be themselves because hiding identities has shown to be um a, a real lack of professional performance in all companies and although feelings are a word that many people feel no pun intended shouldn't be in a business environment. We are people first. We are people first and the human element is such an important part of leadership and being able to pay attention to employees feelings, especially in diverse teams, makes people feel like they belong and will help keep them at the company. And when you hire people, you hire them to do a job, we all spend a lot of effort trying to make them successful at that job. But if they don't feel welcome and they don't feel that that is a place for them. They're not going to stay. So how does diversity impact our leadership approaches? The most important thing that we can do as leaders again at all levels of the company is be transparent about the diversity agenda. Speak to it, have it present all the time. Um If you are in an in office environment, um speak to it every day have um notices posted around the office of talking about how wonderful diversity is and how everyone can support it. It cannot just come from the CEO all of that language. All of that walking the talk needs to come from every level of leadership in a company, acknowledge and support cognitive differentials. What are cognitive differentials?

They are the different ways that people think and if we embrace the different ways that people think when we are trying to make the best decisions for the company, the um upside for all business environments is is just enormous groupthink is a killer of innovation. And so to encourage people to speak freely without fear of adversity is just a gold mine for every company. Um an environment where people feel safe means that we will get the very best ideas from them. Us companies alone are spending about $8 billion a year on diversity training. And although we're making some progress, we're really not accomplishing as much as we should be at this time. So let's talk about how to be a great woman leader. And you can see woman is in um quotes simply because these tips really are for all leaders. But for women, we have both um an advantage and also a disadvantage at being part of the diversity movement in any company. And so the absolutes that we must do in order to create an environment that succeeds is be transformational. When you're in a company, even if they do not have a diversity initiative. Speak to the other leaders about it, speak to the importance of why we need to be part of the solution and not be either part of the problem or be static about it, right?

Um Speak to the CEO of the company, if there is not a di initiative there, um bring your arguments about why it's so good to the company and you'll be able to make um some headway. Uh Even if you're just at the management stage at lower or middle management, you will make some headways be your authentic self, women lead typically in a different way than men. And I think that um our empathy is a strong suit, but sometimes how we use that empathy can work against us. There are all kinds of preconceived notions about women as they lead. Um The fact that when we smile that can suggest to people that we aren't serious or don't really know what we're doing, it's absolutely absurd. Of course, but we have to pay attention to what people are thinking and make sure that they understand that we are real. Even when we're smiling and certainly real when we're speaking to them, seriously being respected comes from being respectful. I can tell you that at some point in your careers, you're gonna have to make a choice sometimes between being liked and being respected, always choose, being respected, being liked at work. It's just a little cherry on top.

And for the most part, if you are a genuine and transparent leader, the vast majority of the company, whether they agree with the decisions you make or not, will both like you and respect you again for being that authentic self, no matter a person's role in the company, everybody contributes something I can remember working for a very, very large company earlier in my career.

And the um uh woman that sat behind a very large desk in the foyer greeted everybody as they came in, both employees and guests alike. And although her position seemed rather social, I can promise you that she had power that many people did not believe that she had. And she was most lovely, lovely employee and so great at her job. And I think that it's important for as we climb that ladder to ensure that we think of everybody that we work with as a peer, even though there is a hierarchy we're all in together. It's all for one and one for all, be a trustworthy leader, ok? When things go right? Give credit where credit is due. When things go wrong, help to solve the problem. If you are part of the problem, say so say I made a mistake. Here's what I was thinking. When I was making that decision for go forward, we're going to go in this direction because this is direction where we're going to succeed, allow employees and your peers alike to make mistakes. OK? My little secret golden rule is if somebody makes a mistake once it's fine, it's a learning experience. If they make it twice, it is still a learning experience. But they really should be in a state of mind where they're kind of kicking themselves for making it a second time. If they make it a third time, that's a choice.

And on that third time, there really needs to be um a very serious effort to either get them in line or to somebody else to be doing that job. So again, uh being authentic, being trustworthy, being respectful will generate the kind of following that you want as a leader. So let's talk about some of the secrets, challenges and eq uh components that make up a good leader. Leaders typically have healthy egos and it's important to have a healthy eco but with no hubris, OK, talking about one's self and one's accomplishments all the time at the exclusion of all the other people that help us to lead. Well, is a big mistake. So have that healthy ego, but share the success with all the people who will go there with you. Many times, there'll be um occasions uh in meetings, in presentations, in um even one on one with uh employees and other participants alike where using silence as a tool is very, very powerful. Uh I know that often when I'm in a meeting where I am in the minority in terms of the diversity quotient. So there's many, many more men in the room. Sometimes I'm the, I'm the only woman. Sometimes it's just a few of us.

Um Typically, what I do is as the conversation becomes overwhelming and all the men are speaking, I just wait until somebody says, so are we ready to move on? And I simply say no. And I have some things to say. So you can be present and you can um speak up, just do it at the right time and don't waste energy trying to get into the fray, wait till things are done. And then have your say when you're having a conversation with somebody, everybody hears in a different way, particularly men and women. OK. And so when you have a conversation with somebody, it's important to synopsis that conversation in terms of what do we just speak about?

Are there action items who's doing? What is there a deadline? All the things that were important about the conversations and then ask the person if that's their understanding as well. So again, you're in it together, be very clear about your purpose as a leader, there's lots of ways to lead. You can lead from behind as a servant leader, you can lead from beside as a peer or you can lead from above. In my experience, leading from the side has been really, really the best uh outcome um because people will know that you are the leader, there's no doubt about that. So to walk alongside them and help them to accomplish the goals of the company, this is a really really powerful position to be in and also makes your employees very, very comfortable, make sure that your body language is as Zen as possible at all times, people take their cues from leaders again, not just the CEO, not just the president, but all the leaders in all areas of the company.

It's important that leaders maintain a calm even when they are conveying news that could be upsetting or negative, especially during those times, right? Try and you, you'll see that I have my Zen background on Zoom today. This is a background that I use to keep my head in a very calm place when I'm having meetings. And so I decided to use it today because it's usually pretty successful for me, challenges, there are always challenges and although some of them are the same for um all leaders uh women leaders and other leaders who come from a diversity background have a bit more to bear in general.

Um There's always gossip, there's always insidious influences of people who um are, have other agendas and who, um may not agree with you and aren't um opposed to saying so and trying to sway the opinions of other in the company. Again, the best thing that you can do is be yourself, be calm, be deliberate and lead the company without um having these kinds of things affect you. Lots of people are not listeners, they would prefer to talk. Right. Again, I touched a little bit on this. Let the talkers talk and when they're done, have them listen to what you really have to say, um be very, very deliberate of anything that you communicate within the company. Um because people make assumptions based on just a couple of words, right? How your inflection is, um what kinds of words you're using. So be very, very deliberate about what you're saying. Do it check in on whether people have understood and again, just be yourself. Um in terms of eq one can't be a good leader unless one has a great deal of introspection and self awareness, your ability to control your own emotions, your thought process, your ability to self regulate is a golden key to being able to lead effectively. Social skills are equally important. I am a introvert slash ex extrovert. And although there are times when I really would prefer um not to be in a position where I have to interact with people. My job very often demands that I must.

And so when I'm in that state, um I simply say to myself, you know what you've done this before, you've done it well, you know who you are, you know what your leadership style is and you just go in and get it done, right? Always have empathy for everybody in the company and everybody that you work with outside the company. Again, we're all human, the human factor is so very important, especially now as technology is taking over so much of what we do and our interactions with people. Um after two years of COVID, we just kind of getting back to being in rooms with people and being able to have conversations in person rather than on um video uh teleconference. So let your human side show and make it easy for people to talk to you and to listen to you always be motivated to be the very best that you can be. Because when you are that way, the vast majority of people will follow your lead and that will lead to the successes in your company. So diversity and management increases revenue by 19%. Most job seekers and workers want to work in diverse companies. And unfortunately, right now, 87% of women, 82 women of color are promoted for 100 men to management. And so we've got to fix that a little bit. Your takeaways. These are the most important things.

If you think if you remember nothing else from this conversation, remember this respect, give it and get it bedrock. Always do what you think is right? Because you're gonna be either criticized or applauded. Either way. Walk the talk, be introspective, encourage it in everyone, be genuine.

Whether you have to be ta tough, soft gritty or diplomatic, be genuine in your approach. And last but not least check in with everybody, walk the company, talk to everybody from the mailroom, person to your peers and be present at all times. I want to leave you with a quote that I think is so apropos, great leadership is about making others better as a result of you being there and making sure that when you're not, that it lasts even when you're not there. And so that's my little talk for today. 20 minutes went by really, really fast. If you'd like to catch up with me, please um, contact me directly at my email or you can contact me through stash dot global. It has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. I hope you've enjoyed this presentation.