Friday 8th March 2019
#Better for Balance is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day and you can see me strike a pose for IWD19 at the top of the post! It’s a really relevant business issue. Creating gender balanced boardrooms, business leadership and workforces is a topical issue highlighting a need for continued focus on helping women achieve their ambitions.
So… what can women personally do themselves? I believe that trying to be your best, most authentic self both in the workplace and outside of it is the best way to ensure that you achieve personal fulfilment. This starts by listening to yourself and asking yourself questions about whether you have thought about, and are achieving, your own personal goals in life.
Personal goals will be different for each one of us. Some will have a high need for feeling connected to community and family; some are more focused on developing talents and interests in pursuit of work placed goals. It is not for me or for anyone else to judge someone’s personal goals but to support the choices that people make. I feel strongly that everyone needs to develop their own goals and not feel under pressure to conform to others.
Most ambitions need to be worked on to be achieved. This means that we need to develop self-awareness and be prepared to work to develop our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. This doesn’t matter whether your goals are community, home or work related. Seek out and grab opportunities that come your way to help you achieve your personal goals; embrace learning, training, networking or taking that voluntary job in the community if that helps you with achieving your ambitions.
We also need to recognise that our ambitions may well change over time. This can be because of life events such as having a child. It may just be the realisation that the career that you have may not actually be the area of work that you are really interested in, or you have a renewed focus on work after bringing up a family. It’s important that you are honest with yourself and have the confidence and support to reject goals that do not make you happy. Most people however will have many ambitions in their community, home and work life and it is important that to achieve balance that these are freely chosen stemming from personal values and interests.
So as business leaders how can we bring this approach into our workplace and ensure that people have a fulfilling and balanced life and maximise the potential of all in the workplace? This starts with having strong business values; setting our intention to have a positive mind-set and ensure managers lead by example in this respect. It means supporting everyone ‘being your best self’ and encourage exploring and maximising everyone’s potential. For women, having role models in senior and Board roles signals what is possible. Support learning and development, not just through training but through other forms of personal development such as mentoring and coaching and if necessary, counselling. Also ensure that you have as much flexibility as is possible. This includes flexible hours, workplaces, and childcare policies. Also, create other opportunities for personal fulfilment, such as activities to support wider societal change which can include, for example, direct support of charities through fundraising and grants.
To achieve #Betterforbalance we can all start with understanding what would make us fulfilled, what are our own balanced goals? As business leaders our role is to create the culture and environment to encourage and support personal goals for those who work in, and interact with, our businesses; encourage ‘being your best self’ and ensure that we positively contribute to #Betterforbalance every day.
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