Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference - Morning Keynote!

I was so fortunate to get to attend the annual Professional BusinessWomen of California's (PBWC's) 20th annual conference in San Francisco at the Moscone Center last week.  It is a one day conference, but so jam packed that I felt like I was at a week long event!

The day started bright and early, I arrived about 7:30AM - in time to get some breakfast and tour the exhibit. I was disappointed to find breakfast was just cake and danishes, nothing healthy other than orange juice - so I had to go to the site's vendor and get myself a bagel.  There was a quick stretch program sponsored by a local gym, which was a good way to get centered and ready for the long day ahead.

The morning keynote started with a beautiful poem about the strength and endurance of women by Roshawnda Bettencourt, 2008 State Poetry Out Loud Champion, followed by a welcome from PBWC President, Ann Barlow.

Ms Barlow looked back at the history of PBWC and how far women have come since its inception, but was careful to point out the gaps that still existed.  Women are still paid less than men for the same work. And not just a little bit less - a lot less. Barlow noted that a woman needed to work from January 08 to April 09 to make as much as a man did in just 2008 alone.  In addition, only 15% of board positions are made up by women, which is not representative at all for the number of women in their various industries.

After Barlow, we were welcomed as well by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Joannie Greggains. By this time, I was feeling *really* welcome ;-)

Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, gave us great insight into how much more women are impacted by poverty around the globe than men, which is devastating considering this is the same group that is most impacted by war, famine and violence. In fact, currently 80% of the world's refugees are women.

Ramdas reminded us that research has proven that when girls are educated it results in lower birthrates, lower infant mortality, and greatly decreases the spread of AIDS.  Yet, when econmic downturns happen parents must often choose which of their to feed, which ones to educate,  Globally, it is most often the daughters that are kept home, only to repeat the cycle of poverty once again as they grow up ignorant and impoverished.

The evidence Ramdas presented continued to be in the favor of educating women and hiring them into higher positions. For example, she noted that banks that had at least 30% women in strategic positions were less likely to have recently invested in the bad home loan market.

The goal of The Global Fund for Woman is to provide the funds where it is needed when it is most desperately required. They keep a very low barrier to entry for fund requests - they accept proposals in any language, in any format: email, documents and hand written notes.  Ramdas knows that this funding can make a world of difference for woman around the globe, and she sited many examples from Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Nicaragua during her talk.

The morning keynote session wrapped up with Patrick Lencioni, author and President of the Table Group, giving us a high level summary of the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.  He noted that there are way more than 5 ways to run a successful team, but these five things will quickly squash any good work that is happening. Unfortunately, the summary was so quick - we only really got the first four :-)

  • Absence of Trust

Vulnerability based trust is so critical. That is, the ability to apologize, ask for help, and be honest about mistakes.  If even one person on the team can't do this, it will impact the dynamcis of the other team.

  • Fear of Conflict

This does mean personality conflict, but about ideas. All members of the team must be willing to weigh in on discussions and even disagree. A good leader should be able to bring this out of his or her team members, because it will lead to successful buy-in later on by all team members and insure there are no unresolved issues that will inhibit the team.

  • Lack of Commitment

If anyone on the team is not really committed to the success of the team, it can end up infecting all members who will not want to pull more than their fair share.

  • Lack of Accountability

Teams need to have peer-to-peer accountability. That is, not going around each other to the leader or boss to report on other team members.  A troublesome sign is when someone says, "I don't have the time and energy for this." Lencioni sees this as an evasive manuever which will lead to trouble later on.

There was a fifth one, but I guess I'll have to read the book to find out more! This was one of the most intense keynote discussions I think I have ever attended, and it really set the tone for the rest of the fascinating day.

Did you make it to the conference? Was it just me, or did Lencioni really get you thinking about your own teams and perhaps some of your own behaviours?

More on the sessions later!

No comments:

Post a Comment