February 23, 2011

3 Hacks for 21st century Women Leaders

1. Hunt Evidence

Learn to love your data! I can’t emphasize enough how powerful and practical your decision-making can become with this layer of clarity applied to your business, health, life.  Women battle the bias of being labelled as making more emotional/irrational decisions. One of the greatest gifts that computing has offered us is overlooked as something for the domain of researchers and analytics dorks. I’m an abiding fan of hunting for evidence, and there are simple, free and easy-to-use tools to track what lies behind your suspicions – even if maths is your kryptonite, you too can learn to love data-tracking. Being clear kills fear.With the strength of bottom-line numbers we gain the confidence to speak into our leadership calls with clarity.
Creative Commons Attribution License: Frerieke on Flickr (click pic)

2. Hunt Robust Health

Women have, on average, the blessing of an additional decade of life built in to our physiology. But we’re seeing this erode within a few generations, our rates of heart conditions and lifestyle-related illnesses are coming into parity with our menfolk. Sitting behind a screen for unrelenting hours on end, unconscious snacking and adrenaline-tapping deadline chasing is doing us in. Wired women leaders, take back your health! Go play outside, breathe, eat delectable food. Who wants to follow somebody who’s committing slow suicide from overwork. Remember mens sana in corpore sano: a healthy mind in a healthy body (nothing like a little Latin to give gravitas to the obvious). Love your biological hardware or you’ll persistently be facing software crashes and sludgy speeds.  If you’re a code engineer, caffeine-swilling pizza-fuelled sleep-deprived screen-devotion can squeeze out the marvels, but is a certain death knell for ladies who want to lead long time. A strong, reliably healthy body, by design not default, is one of the greatest treasures we can afford ourselves, an agile mind its prized reward.

3. Hunt Inspiring Company

Genius begets genius. Despite the seductive myth of the lone brainiac, evidence and history tell a very different story (ah, data substantiation). Women are superb natural collaborators, but most of us still have a peculiar superstition that we need to guard our territory and cut down competitors. It may be “normal” business practice, but it certainly isn’t natural for us. There is robust and burgeoning business model for sharing and opensource, not just online, as Public Lead for Creative Commons in South Africa part of my duty is to bring the case-studies to light and illuminate the practical steps to begin to share legally, safely and profitably, 21st century style. Find mentors, gather peers to build something difficult but remarkable together, socialise with the brave and big hearted.


I’m on a panel for the 6th Annual Women in Leadership conference with 2 women I respect and appreciate having in my world, Maritza van den Heuvel and Monique Ross. Both courageous and fascinating women in quite different ways and well worth following.

The topic is : Wired Women – Wonderful Ways to use collaborative innovation in the Digital Economy
Social media like blogs, facebook and twitter reflect the easy and natural way women form community and share information. Learn more about how becoming a digital citizen can fast-track the achievement of your leadership goals as you make a difference to the world.

Though I’m convinced that taking any kind of binary positions: man/woman, black/white, young/old etc. is no way to move forward with intelligence, it’s good fun to bolster the women who have forgotten the delightful benefits of being a woman + Internet in a democratic, capitalist society with the most compelling opportunities to make a tangible difference as a social entrepreneur/activist/someone who gives a damn.

Quick punt while we’re speaking about this: University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business runs an annual Women in Leadership program in April led by Dr Marjolijn Dijksterhuis. It has been lauded and applauded by delegates. Worth your while if you’re a woman in senior position who would value a deepening of her foundational business skills and those next-level but not-so-obvious clues to confident, calm leadership.


Picture Credits under Creative Commons Attribution Licenses: (with my gratitude) Seq on Flickr (by the way, do go discover more about the lovely architect/humanitarian Frerieke van Bree and her Students for Humanity project. She’s one of those fearless, fun, nature-built-a-winner-with-this-one people) US Army Africa on Flickr Steven De Pollo (feature image)

February 23, 2011