Monday, March 19, 2012

How are you feeling today?

Today I am feeling energized because last week I had the opportunity to participate in McKinsey & Company's West Coast Women's Leadership Summit here in San Francisco.  The catalyst for this event is a five-year study of leadership conducted by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston who are passionate about discovering insights on how successful women lead. Together they have developed a model for what they call Centered Leadership which has five components: Meaning, Framing, Connecting, Engaging, and Energizing. I encourage both men and women to read more about this research in their book How Remarkable Women Lead, and to conduct their own self-discovery. This book tells remarkable stories of successful female leaders including one that I had the pleasure of getting to know at Google, Eileen Naughton.
I've seen Joanna and Susie enthusiastically present their findings in several different settings over the past two years, but this Summit offered the unique opportunity to interact with other McKinsey and West Coast company leaders including the CMO of Wells Fargo, a brand I admire.  They encouraged us to be of service to one another and have meaningful conversations while working on 'Connecting' in our small groups and in that spirit they had us begin by answering three questions:
  1. How are you feeling today?
  2. What motivated you to come to the Summit?
  3. What is your next big goal?
We were encouraged to be great listeners and to imagine what others were feeling below the water surface, using the analogy of an iceberg.  When was the last time you thought deeply about your feelings in a business setting?  Isn't that a career limiting move? According to the Centered Leadership model it's a key element of 'Connecting' and effective leadership.  This set the tone for the program by putting us in what Joanna refers to as a 'state of being' open for learning, motivated by our collective desire to discover more about ourselves and each other, increase our awareness and acceptance of our underlying mindsets which allowed us to access new insights and increased self-awareness.
The rest of the day's activities focused on sponsorship, which is different from mentorship, and is something they've found in their research that women require if they want to reach top management.  Sponsors are senior players who will stake their reputation on your behalf. While mentors offer informal advice and coaching, a good sponsor opens the doors of the promotion elevator and pushes a protégé through.  I have been fortunate to have many client sponsors as a consultant, including some incredibly talented women executives, and I am grateful to each of them for giving me the opportunity to help them and their organizations reach new heights.  I'm also grateful to McKinsey & Company and the fantastic women I had the pleasure of meeting at this event who inspired me to commit to sharing more of my thought leadership on this blog and to one day publish a book.  Yes, that was my big goal and so you can understand why I'm feeling energized.  I have a lot to accomplish!  How are you feeling?