Saturday, 24 March 2012
Vive la difference?
I have had a busy week, visiting our London office and contributing to senior leadership team meetings, seeing friends and making new ones , chairing several meetings back in Scotland, time with my own team in Scotland ....oh and attending the final of the Institute of Directors dinner in Scotland as a finalist. I admit I probably spent more in the hairdressers than most of the men there but as the category I was a finalist in was female director of the year , it made me reflect on how else are we different. And it's still very evident that more men are senior leaders and the more you go up the hierarchy the more that is true. It felt a fairly male event, yes the women were there but we were well outnumbered not just as guests but as finalists too. Recently I read a Harvard review that peer assessment of men and women in successful organisations showed that that in most categories women demonstrated more of the effective leadership behaviours than men. And they weren't just in the soft skills like relationship building, people development etc, they were in problem solving, innovation, energy. When I learned that I had got through to the final and it was in the female category and I did have a moment of ...well is there a male director category? (you know how that one goes I expect). There isn't of course and i expect thats because until there is an equality in the treatment of women in leadership roles, in spite of their abilities , it probably is necessary to highlight the achievements in this way. Of course it's always good to be affirmed in a process like this and as a friend who helped me to see the value in the nomination said...it's a party! And indeed it was, a grand affair attended by cabinet secretaries and ministers as well as some amazing people who were very worthy finalists. Alas I didn't win but the woman who did had lead a programme on violence reduction in Scotland, requiring courage, vision and terrific leadership. A worthy winner indeed, so I wasn't too disappointed. I went to congratulate her, with genuine admiration for her work. She was delighted having only got tickets at the last minute, not a frequenter of such events. She had also just had praise from her child, who she had just phoned to tell the news. I liked her modesty and evident focus on what counts in her life. Let's hope there is a time when these qualities are equally valued and rewarded in our leaders, because clearly it contributes to their success. I had been practicing my I am not disappointed because everyone's a winner here face, but in truth it's how I felt. I was proud to have got to that stage and to see our work acknowledged externally affirmed. I am immensely proud of all we have achieved since setting up in Scotland. Building on the firm and respected platform of the existing work of Breakthrough Breast Cancer we have campaigned effectively on breast cancer issues, increased our support from all sections of society and the workplace , informed the public on the success of our research and helped more people be informed about how to detect their cancer early. There is much more to do of course but we have got off to a great start. So this blog is to say a huge THANK YOU to the fabulous team in Scotland and my talented and committed colleagues based in London. And even more importantly that THANK YOU goes to our many hard working supporters who do so much to make it all possible. With more women diagnosed each year our work is far from done. So it's sleeves rolled up and on with the important business, the dress is back in the wardrobe but I know our time will come again! Reasons to be cheerful are I met some new people last week at a dinner and really enjoyed my evening with them. Great conversations and insights too. Looking forward to more of that. Also I am meeting an old school friend today, we have a long time to catch up on....and my hairs a different colour.Oops will she know me? And more time with another friend tomorrow..good times. My surgery is approaching fast .I am not sure I am cheerful about that but I know it's the right thing for me...more of that next week.Have a good week ahead.