Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What if women were extremely effective leadership communicators?

It is a very special feeling to be in a room full of woman in technology. It actually is completely the opposite of what most of us women in technology experience on our daily work lives.

As this is my first Grace Hopper Celebration, and one of the first sessions I'm attending, I just take a few minutes to breath deeply and feel the excitement and exhilaration of being surrounded by all this wonderful powerful women in technology. 

I love the name of this session: What if women were extremely effective leadership communicators?
When you start by asking a question you open up to all sorts of possibilities.

Linda Apsiey (Microsoft) and Ann Dorga (The Pink Genius) embarked us on this exploration to answer the question: What does an effective leader really look like?

Authenticity to your core values is one of the main pilars of their building of an effective communicator. ILinda and Ann started by sharing their own values, such as: family (with the motto of stay together and nobody is left behind), seeking truth and meaning, the value of serving, loyalty, love for learning and love for freedom (Ann's company mission is to free the leader within each of us).

They then moved on to their next question: How to make communication effective?
And they proposed that values are at the core of great leadership communications. Values drive our  behavior. If we can as leaders become conscious of our values, which drive our behavior, then we can communicate better. Leadership communication is about the person, the vision, the character and the ability to bring other people and connect them along with that vision.
Do we have the courage that takes to stand high and verbalize who we are?
What if your character, competence, vision and  our connection were crystal clear?
Great examples of people that clearly transmitted their values and embodied this personal messages were the Dalai Lama with his message of Compassion and Martin Luther King with his message of Social Equality.

They also mentioned Fran Allen,  an American Computer Scientist and pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers, as an example of a woman that early on balanced her family and career. Fran said that the industry was more women friendly in the past than it is today, after the influence from Engineering.
One of Fran's phrases mentioned: "I see my career as standing on a wall... one is seing new possibilities and the other is building new products"

We then moved on to do a group exercise. We first identified our values, we reviewed what those values represented and then prioritized them. After that, we closed our eyes in an attempt to connect with our right brains and our feelings and we came up with one word, one feeling that we got at that time thinking of us embodying those values we identified.

As as example, Ann shared her values of family, loyalty, truth which represent love and truth and when she imagined living her values she felt joy.

The basic message is when you communicate into alignment with yourself, and others, you can then have other align with you.

As an example of what it means to be connected in the 21st century, they showed a video of Tiffany Shlain. I totally recommend checking her out, her TED Talk is one of my favorite. Someone in the audience noted how Tiffany stablished herself as a human, making a personal connection, then as a woman and mother, and then shared her passion. 

In summary, Ann and Linda's message was that effective leaders communicate with authenticity, connecting through their values, engaging their audience with their 5 senses and in a competent way.

Time for all of us to reflect on our core values, on how we would feel when our life and our communications embody those values and to get our messages out to the world.

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