Business from a Woman’s Perspective – Lessons from Female Leaders

Women who lead in business
Women who lead in business

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More and more women are conquering the business world and they’re doing it their way. I recently attended a talk by our courageous public protector, Thuli Madonsela and she said something that’s stuck with me; “If we stand on the shoulders of giants we can see more clearly”.

I’m a firm believer in learning from others and have found a lot of wisdom and guidance from a number of female powerhouses including Sheryl Sandberg and Ariana Huffington – if you haven’t read their books yet take a peek now:

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

Currently the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg is no stranger to the corporate world; she’s served as the Chief of Staff to the then US Secretary of the Treasury, Larry Summers and was in charge of online sales of Google’s advertising and publishing products before moving to Facebook in 2008. In 2012 she became the eight member and first female, to sit on the company’s board of directors. She also serves on the board of The Walt Disney Company.

In Lean In Sandberg combines personal anecdotes with practical advice for women based on research, her own experience and that of other female leaders. Read an excerpt here.

Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Journalist and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington is best known as the creator of the popular news site The Huffington Post. Early in her career she wrote books on Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso but became well known during her then husband, Republican Michael Huffington’s unsuccessful Senate bid in 1994. Arianna herself has run as an independent candidate (against Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003) and regularly makes her voice heard with regards to political issues.

She’s also head of The Detroit Project – a public interest group that’s lobbying auto manufacturers to produce cars that run on alternative fuels.

Her book Thrive looks at Arianna’s personal struggle with balancing a massively successful business with being a wife and mother and how mindfulness, meditation and giving provides a different way forward. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Fortunately the list of great female leaders who’ve written about their experience and insight is getting longer. Here are a few more worth your while:

 Which books would you add to the list?

For Women In Business It’s Mostly Still a Man’s World

Women in business

There are a lot of powerful women in the world today; from Thuli Madonsela to Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg, Gill Marcus, Marissa Meyer, Helen Zille and Ferial Haffajee to name a few. But taken in context gender inequality in both politics and business is still rampant with the 2014 Grant Thornton Women in Business: from classroom to boardroom indicating that the proportion of women in senior roles has stagnated at a mere 24% (the same result as in 2007, 2009 and 2012). The research shows that ‘more women are studying in tertiary education than men…but that just 21% of the typical global graduate intake are women”.

Kunyalala Maphisa, President of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) believes that, “Challenges that women may face and ultimately prevent them from climbing the corporate ladder are largely linked to management’s concerns over women potentially abandoning a career to focus on family life. Females may also be unfairly judged on their ability to juggle corporate as well as household responsibilities”.

Startling Stats

1-in-10 businesses run mentoring schemes for women
40% of businesses have no women in senior management
Only 32% of women form part of the global workforce but,
865 million women are to enter the workforce by 2020
Only 12% of companies have a female CEO
Surprisingly the countries with the highest proportion of women in senior management are:

  • Russia,
  • Thailand,
  • Estonia,
  • Latvia,
  • Armenia,
  • Georgia,
  • Lithuania,
  • China,
  • Indonesia and
  • the Philippines

Essentially it’s still (mostly) a man’s world out there but I’m passionate about the advancement of women in leadership as I believe that we have much to offer the world in all spheres of business (whether we’re mothers or not). Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing the lesson’s I’ve learned from powerful women as well as looking at a few unique female leaders and their leadership styles so stay tuned.

Understanding What Causes Anxiety & Depression

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

For many of us some form of anxiety and/or depression is a part of life, a part a new UK study seeks to understand better. Led by Professor Peter Kinderman the research group reveals that, while there is no single cause, there are 5 major triggers of anxiety and depression:

  • A traumatic life event
  • A family history of mental illness
  • Income and education levels
  • The way we think about and deal with stressful events (this trigger reminds me of a quote by Chris Pine,”The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it”)

 The team also identified three thinking and behavioural styles which can increase the chances of a person experiencing anxiety and depression:

  • Rumination: when depressing thoughts roll around-and-around in the mind.
  • Lack of adaptive coping: examples include failing to seek support from others, eating poorly, not exercising and failing to anticipate stressful episodes.
  • Self-blame: this is a very toxic type of mental habit. Unsurprisingly, its opposite, self-acceptance, is a key happy habit.

While there is no quick fix for anxiety and depression understanding the underlying causes is a good start to finding the path to healing.


Company Culture Is Vital to Building Corporate Resilience

Peter Drucker Quote

Peter Drucker Quote

When it comes to building a corporation that lasts people often look good leaders, a solid business structure and good strategy – all of which are important – but neglect the immense importance of the right company culture. AIRMIC (a UK risk management association) recently released the very interesting Road to Resilience Report in which it clearly emerges that corporate culture is essential to building business resilience.

Take a look at this article by Phil Ellis for WillisWire in which he highlights key aspects of the report as well as looking at these steps to building a culture of trust:

  • Recognise inter-dependence
  • Know that a crisis will happen
  • Be part of wins and survivals
  • Be the beneficiary of investment
  • Know that the competition is  ‘out there’