Working in an age of disruption, women are encouraged to embrace and grow their leadership styles.
Your leadership style is constantly evolving, even if you don’t realize it.
That’s because professional women are living and working in an age of disruption, says Wendi Wasik, facilitator of “Understanding and Leveraging Your Leadership Style,” the first of six sessions in the Fox School’s Women’s Leadership Series.
“Women have greater opportunities to shape and influence what is of importance to them,” Wasik says.
The monthly series, hosted by the Center for Executive Education, provides an environment for professional women to grow their knowledge of effective and successful leadership skills.
Wasik, an executive coach, was quick to issue a challenge to the room of women whose careers spanned a range of professions.
“What do you care about?” she asks. “What has you want[ing] to rise up and be the best leader you can be?”
For some emerging leaders, the answer to those questions might take them out of their comfort zone.
“When a situation calls for something different, we need to introduce some flexibility,” she says.
“Your leadership style is multidimensional and fluid, it is not hard and fast, although sometimes we think it is. It is constantly evolving and expanding your awareness as you gain experience and you integrate lessons from successes and failures.”
Temple University Provost JoAnne A. Epps joined the cohort for a conversation about women in leadership. She advised participants to think about what they want to achieve as leaders.
“We don’t actually ask ourselves that question often enough,” she says. “Feel free to think boldly and to try things.”
It’s important for all leaders to recognize their blind spots as well as the sweet spots and be open to input from others to help identify strengths and weaknesses.
“There is a lot of value in creating a learning environment where one can discuss failures and mistakes and learn from it and come back stronger because of it,” Wasik says.
Small team exercises allowed several participants to have “lightbulb moments” that helped them identify individual strengths and weaknesses.
“Awareness is really the first step,” Wasik says, “You cannot change what you are not aware of.”
Some of the things that influence most leadership styles center around a person’s mindset and the internal dialogue that takes place during a time of challenge.
A fixed mindset makes it difficult to grow as a leader. So Wasik urged participants to cultivate a growth mindset that is more open to learning new ways to lead and think about problems in front of them.
“This becomes the fabric of the culture,” she says.
Wasik believes internal dialogue can create both opportunities and limitations for women that ultimately impacts behavior.
“The perfectionism aspect that I see particularly around women executives is really intense sometimes,” she says.
Accepting and learning from mistakes is something successful leaders need to work toward.
“If you don’t own that and master that for yourself, you do not have it to give away to others,” Wasik says.
But both Epps and Wasik admit change and growth can be uncomfortable.
“If you are going to be an effective leader, you’re going to have people who are going to dislike decisions that you make and they are going to try to derail the decision or derail you,” Epps says.
It’s how someone deals with these difficult situations that can make a difference for all parties involved.
“I think you have to emotionally let go of that because it will hold you back,” she says.
Engaging a community and its leaders to build an innovative, entrepreneurial workforce is a huge challenge. However, Flinders University’s New Venture Institute (NVI), with support from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has done just that — and the momentum is not showing signs of slowing down.
NVI’s work has helped grow more than 32 businesses, train more than 3,000 students and workers and implement an entrepreneurial curriculum in a region hit hard by the closing of a Mitsubishi plant in Adelaide, the capital city in the state of South Australia.
Matt Salier, Director at the New Venture Institute, TL Hill, Managing Director at Fox Management Consulting and The Center for Executive Education and Michelle Histand, Director of Independence Blue Cross Innovation, outlined NVI’s journey during their May 28 presentation “Transforming an Innovation Ecosystem in South Australia (or Looking Far Afield to Find Inspiration at Home).”
Universities have a responsibility to train the next workforce through an adaptable, enterprising curriculum, Hill says. In 2013, Flinders embarked on its mission of creating a path to innovative thinking that would benefit not only the university but also the 1.2 million residents who lived in the surrounding community.
Because of Fox’s strong business curriculum and the demographic similarities between Adelaide and Philadelphia, the partnership with Flinders seemed a natural fit. Fox Management Consulting used its expertise to help bring Flinders University’s vision for the future of education to life.
The key to being transformative in education is to be more industry-led, recognizing how businesses are developing and making adjustments to move forward.
“The research is to put industries’ needs at the center and say what is needed to be successful in the future. We tried to take that model to Flinders as well,” Hill says.
With an early framework in mind, Flinders brought 1,000 business people together to think about what competencies should be driving the university’s transformation as it moved toward being more innovative and entrepreneurial in its overall educational offerings.
“We believe that innovation stretches across all disciplines,” Histand says. “So the idea was not to do ‘innovation instead’ but to do ‘innovation with.’”
New Venture Institute successfully worked with government officials to create “entrepreneurial schools” where curriculum built around innovative thinking begins early in a student’s development.
“We better be working with the supply chain of students coming through, particularly from elementary (what Australia calls high school), but even beyond that,” Salier says.
Hill envisions bringing the work being done at Flinders back to Temple and the city at large.
Both Flinders and Temple recognize the importance of being good community partners, he said. To do that, it’s important to recognize the need to “keep one foot in the university setting and one foot in the community.”
Flinders is working with cities located near the campus to think more creatively in working with residents, businesses and industries to improve conditions.
“There are a range of things that have enabled us to have more of an impact in moving the needle on economic areas outside of our own closeted world of the university,” he said.
What is important to keep in mind, Salier said, is to keep pushing the edge of what is possible.
It’s great to dream. It is also very exciting to think up ways you can move the needle for your organization. But you must build a team that can bring your strategy to fruition, which is no small feat. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), an estimated 67% of well-formulated strategies failed due to poor execution last year.
At the Fox School of Business, we often hear how employees’ skill gaps are a key reason these kinds of failures occur. The good news is that this is a simple problem that can be overcome. Execution doesn’t have to kill your company… or your dreams.
Take a minute to consider how your company can be more successful in deploying its strategy.
Strengthen Pertinent Skills
As an executive, you must deliver opportunities to fill your employees’ skill gaps so that they are prepared to carry out the right course of action (RE: your strategy). Skills to focus on depend on your organization’s needs and goals. They could include negotiation, communication, finance, leadership, or others. Spending on workshops in these areas will decrease the likelihood that you’ll fall down when executing. Your competition already knows this. That’s why, according to HBR, budget allocated toward corporate professional development increased by over 310% in a three-year period.
Know Your Market
Teams often fail when they’re too internally focused. They must understand market dynamics, the competition, and how the firm’s strategy can grow the bottom line and make the organization a market leader. When it comes to shaping strategy, and delivering an action plan, it is also crucial that your team understands your customers, even if they aren’t working in a marketing function. Doing so will help them tune into the business environment, anticipate market dynamics, and understand the role they play in successfully executing a strategy.
Put Data into Practice
Educate and empower your executives to use data effectively and beneficially for your organization—and then put this to work during the execution phase of your business strategy. To begin with, you must collect meaningful employee performance metrics and provide information in an appropriate way to your employees—this is the growing field of human capital analytics. This approach will not only help you analyze and leverage metrics to drive your bottom-line, it will also help your employees understand their personal contributions.
These skills are the building blocks to ensure that your organization can execute on its strategy.
Disrupting the Healthcare Status Quo with Dr. Stephen Klasko
In an energetic talk, Dr. Klasko shared his vision for the future of healthcare, including innovative new ways to educate doctors and deliver quality healthcare to patients.
Dr. Klasko’s ability to successfully disrupt the status quo and foster creativity in a healthcare environment was an encouraging message to a room full of eager professionals. He shared stories from both the perspective of the doctor and of the patient and demonstrated how innovations in technology will move healthcare forward—all with the humor of looking at healthcare through a science fiction lens. Most interestingly, Dr. Klasko looked forward to how healthcare at Jefferson will be improved through the recent merger of Thomas Jefferson University with Philadelphia University, and how medical students and design students will work together.
Dr. Klasko’s guest speaking engagement during the EMBA class weekend was one in a series of regional C-Suite speakers woven throughout the 16-month program. Tying insights of these executives into the current curriculum allows for an alternative perspective, and constant reminder of what is possible in the future of each individual’s career path.
Dr. Klasko’s most recent book is called We CAN Fix Healthcare – The Future is NOW.