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It’s Time to Lean Out

By June 1, 2015December 19th, 2016No Comments

The phenomenal speed of change that got us to the 21st century’s technological frenzy is not going to slow down any time soon — and it is creating an uncertain future on a global business level that is naturally demanding change. There is an ongoing war between the need for stability and the need for growth. It is up to each of us to actively listen to the demands of this society and evolve how we operate accordingly so that what we do aligns with — and leads — the new paradigm

It is not enough, in the words of the amazing Sheryl Sandberg, to ‘lean in’ for future-proofing our success, our businesses and our careers. As leaders who are taking teams into an uncertain future it’s now about leaning out and collaborating with others. Because to lean out means to embrace and engage on an unforeseen aggregated level — where thinking bigger than ever before will bring rewards to a collective commercial mind.

The barriers between genders, between generations, between cultures, between the inventors and the investors, between the change makers, the visionaries and those that make it happen — these all have to be broken down.  It’s not about gender and yet it is.  It’s not about age and yet it is.  It’s not about education, religious belief or even colour of skin and yet it is because difference of opinion, diversity of thought and expression is the new competitive advantage.  Why? Because leaning out to engage others to work collaboratively drives intelligence, speed to market, innovation, growth and profit.

And yet despite a changing society and business landscape, the workplace is still not a place of equity.  As one example, the gender pay gap in Australia is currently sitting at 18.2 percent. What does this mean in dollar for dollar terms? Women are currently earning just 81.8 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn, down from an average of 85.1 cents ten years ago.  In other words, we are actually going backwards in terms of wage equity in Australia, rather than forwards. Worryingly, it seems we are not making much headway in other areas of equity in the corporate workplace either, despite discussion, think tanks, enquiries… the willingness to talk is present, but the action and evidence of change is questionable.

So who is the onus on to make change happen?

Change can only come through both men and women, all of us, being willing to stand together and fight actively for gender equity and diversity – not just in terms of pay, but in terms of organisational structure and leadership positions, being able to serve within any role in any industry – whether public or private sector – and to have the option to be sponsored to get to those positions.

The ‘leadership pipeline’ as it stands is not viable. Why? Partly because when it comes to mentoring and sponsorship within corporate and public sector organisations, like sponsors like. This has been proven time and again in various studies, and it is borne out if you take a look around any large company. Gender sponsors gender, and it even comes down ethnicity sponsoring ethnicity. So – if the company is 80% male, and the leadership body is 95% male – then the potential leadership pool being sponsored is predominantly male. Those females who do sponsor and mentor are overwhelmed in terms of who they can take on – which means there is a talent pool who see no support for their skills, and quite often as a result either walk away or refuse to believe in their own abilities… and also in turn don’t sponsor, because they weren’t.

Evolution in society is driving change and bringing new thinking, insight and solutions to existing problems.Ignore the diversity of opinion at your peril.We all need to lean out, to support each other wholeheartedly through networks, both personal and professional.

Women need to be actively engaged, their input valued;and they themselvesmusthave the courage to step up and step into the collaborative space.

Entrepreneurs need to collaborate to continually evolve, challenge parameters and disrupt the status quo with new products, services and solutions

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Generations need to value each other’s strengths and knowledge, respect fully what each brings to the table and appreciate that together we can create waves of change that will secure everyone’s future.

And business overall needs to step into the space of commercial collaboration, leaning out to embrace the opportunity that exists when it builds diverse teams, creates the freedom to discuss, debate and ideate, where the strength of individual thought leadership, skills, expertise and experience can be reinforced through working together.

This is not about a revolution; it’s about evolution.

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