Time for a women and men in leadership forum?

The annual Women in Leadership Forum with the theme “Strategies for Success” was held a few weeks ago.  The forum is geared to men and women senior executives, managers, business persons, professionals, entrepreneurs, director and regulators.  As usual, there were mainly women in the room which given the session title is not surprising.

While I enjoyed the sessions that I heard, it did make be wonder (as I did last year) about whether it is time to move to a Women and Men in Leadership Forum.

But first some highlights:

From Maureen Kempston Darkes, former VP General Motors Corporation Group, former President, GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East…

  • importance of focusing on business results — opens doors and builds relationships
  • flexible work environments are key
  • formal and informal mentoring are essential
  • openness and candour win the day
  • don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • in every job try to add value and work from a position of strength
  • break through the glass walls — move to gain a greater sense of the total business, demonstrate ability to act outside of your area of expertise
  • her legacy was the leaders that she left behind

From Sarah Davis, CFO, Loblaw Companies Ltd.

  • the role of women in leadership = the role of men in leadership — all about getting results
  • minding the gap is important — way more women customers than there are women store managers so they are giving themselves the 50% challenge — getting to 50% women store managers
  • lessons in leadership:
    1. Work Hard and Work Smart
    2. Wear Different Hats
    3. Stand Out — differentiate yourself
    4. Make mistakes
    5. Be lucky

From Paul Hollands, CEO A & W Food Services of Canada

  • A&W has a balanced exec re: men and women
  • They have “climate goals” which are around creating a comfortable and stable environment in which everyone can succeed
  • An open posting system is critical for encouraging growth in their people

From Nancy Southern,  President and CEO, ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Ltd.

  • dreams shape reality
  • heart and mind at the core of the ATCO spirit
  • 6 characteristics to differentiate organizations:
  1. Leader-driven organizations with an environment to try new things
  2. Build on pre-emptive management — think about what can go wrong
  3. Being in the marketplace — know the customer
  4. Performance results have to be the driver
  5. Simple structure — keeping things simple
  6. People systems — recognition and reward

Carole Taylor was the moderator of the panel with Nancy, Paul and Sarah.  She asked them to follow-up on themes of the ability to move jobs, family balance and streams to the top (the sense that the Finance stream gets you to the top better than the HR stream).

My sense was that all this information was as useful and needed for men as it is for women.  And it is men and women working together that make good leadership happen.  So I put on my feedback form that I thought it was time to have a Leadership Forum for Men and Women.

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