Tag Archives: leadership

“Many Woman Make Good Mentors” Interview with Ann Bonner on Leadership

Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment

Today, I spoke to Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment about leadership. She has worked successfully in leading marketing roles. I have known her for many years now, and have secretly been watching and admiring her on her successful collaborations and networking abilities, even in very challenging environments. Many people, including me, have learned from her leadership and mentoring abilities.

Ann, from your experience as a successful woman in leading marketing roles – what are the most distinctive characteristics that make “real leaders”, meaning “charismatic role models”?

In my experience, I was always motivated by leaders who were honest, had the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly and there was a mutual trust in the relationship. One will always be inspired and motivated by a leader to lead by example, does not discriminate, empowers, listens, encourages and recognises successes.

Do you think, engaging leaders are natural talents or rather that everyone can be a leader?

I do believe that some people are more charismatic than others naturally, but this doesn’t necessarily make them good leaders. I think you can learn to be a good leader. Life’s experience is a great teacher and if you are lucky enough to work with an inspirational leader you can learn a lot from a good mentor.

Are there differences between woman leading a team and men leading a team? What do men better than women or the other way round?

I think it depends on the individual man or woman. My own experience, in very male dominated industries, found some women to be more creative, better at empowering staff, defining job expectations and providing constructive feedback. I think many women make good mentors because they encourage openness, are more accessible and have a tendency to express appreciation more easily. They are also greater calculated risk-takers.

Many businesses are still very male-dominant. Women in leading positions are still an exception, no matter what the newspapers say. From your point of view, Ann, what is important for women to be perceived and appreciated as a leader among men?

In my opinion, the leadership qualities described above are equally important to both men and women. However, to be seen as equal among men, women tend to have to work harder at projecting their leadership qualities. Until this changes, it is very important to connect with the right network within the specific organisation in order to gain some strong sponsorship and inclusion.

How can women best network among men?

Collaboration networks already exist in any organisation – both formal and informal. By establishing relationships with the decision makers as well as the guys who have the knowledge and the power, you will soon build a collaborative network. Find a situation where you can talk to them about something they are interested in, or discuss a project that you know is their priority and offer help if you can. It may be that you need introduction by someone, who is already in your network, or if there is a social event or project team where you have an opportunity to introduce yourself and build on the initial introduction. One contact may lead to another contact.

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Movement versus Leadership: What it takes to be successful at both

Okay, this video was first published in 2010, viewed 2,970,096 times, of which four times by myself, liked 70,000 times and shared endlessly. It became, what we call a viral video, and someone started it. I’m… late.

I love the video, because it doesn’t only show that we should pay less attention to the bands playing at festivals (trivial), but at the people attending the festivals. We can learn plenty on social behaviors and transfer it to market dynamics and leadership. In this case it’s the “lonely nut”, transformed into a leader by his first follower. He then calls his friends and the two eventually become a “movement”, where people rush to belong to the “inner circle”. The bigger the crowd becomes, the more influential it becomes and vice versa. I believe sociologists call this phenomenon “social proof”. So far so good! Take a good idea someone is totally nuts about, attract a follower and the rest is history. As we can see daily evidence from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

With help from some surprising footage, Derek Sivers explains on TED how movements really get started.

Unfortunately, the video doesn’t show, how our bare chested leader carries on leading. If he’d jump off a cliff, would everyone follow? Probably not, because human beings are not lemmings or ants that simply follow their lemming or ant in front of them. We are individuals. Independent of each other. Maybe, he’d be successful, considering the weather and the exhausting workout (the birth of Zumba???), if he sends out some scouts to find the best stalls with the cheapest drinks in the area. People are more likely to follow him, because he discovered a need he’s created in his movement, and he also has the best information source thanks to his scouts. (Now reverse that back into a business idea, and you might have a sales strategy.)

How will he further succeed as a leader? Let me answer this with another question: Did you read “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki? In a nutshell, it’s trusting many and not a few. Providing that:

  1. your team(s) displays a cognitive diversity (background, education),
  2. the people are independent and don’t feel obliged just to follow everyone else or compromise,
  3. that your organization is decentralised, as it supports independence and specialization.
  4. your rules to keep up order and coherence.

Surowieck, and before him many other scientists and curious people, give evidence and samples, of how much better aggregated and averaged results of “crowds” are in comparison to single guesses or responses even from the smartest.

By the way, I still have a “nut” in my blog, who gave me a first interview on one of her success stories in her career. I wonder, who the key person is to follow her….

Leadership – My Dedicated Team

Last weekend I got  a phone call from my friend Denise. We chit chatted a bit until she told me about her recent BBQ with her team. Another attempt of her boss in building a team. Luckily, the weather wasn’t too bad that evening. The food was indeed nice, but the mood was a bit akward. After dinner, people vanished quickly, and the next day, everyone moaned about the waste of time. The team spirit wasn’t any better than before the BBQ.

What do you consider sucessfull team building? From my point of view, a random group of people work best together as soon as they have the same objectives. Ideally, these should be the yearly objectives that even the CEO has.

These objectives must than be broken down into the individual team’s objectives (top-down cascading system). Once people aim for the same goal, they HAVE to work together. A joint team event might than be a less obvious team building event, but actually a nice leisure event.

Would you agree? Denise and I are curious to hear your suggestions.