Citat-mobil


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Women Leaders from Sweden and the United Arab Emirates


May 20th -23rd 2012 marked the start of Women Leadership Exchange Program – an international leadership program for women managers.

During four days of beautiful spring weather, 19 women managers from Sweden and from the United Arab Emirates, gathered in Klippan, Sweden, for the first of two modules.

In January of 2013, the green of the Swedish spring will give way for the wast sand dunes of Dubai, location of the second module in the program.

Program direction. From the left: Johanna Steen (MiL Institute), Maria Delmar (MiL Institute) and Maja Rottbøll (W4SG)


This pilot project, focusing on empowering women leaders from Sweden and the United Arab Emirates to build a sustainable leadership practice, is the first ever co-operation between MiL Institute, Women for Sustainable Growth (W4SG) and Dubai Women Establishment (DWE).

Leadership Development for Women Leaders


In its structure this leadership development program is not that different from the usual leadership programs at MiL Institute.

What sets it apart is the international target group and the joint ethos and focus of the three organizing institutions on promoting women leaders to be instigators of sustainable development. Building change from the inside out.

A Sustainable Leadership Practice


During a period of 8 months the participants will work on establishing a Sustainable Leadership Practice.

On a personal level this means exploring one’s the inner purpose, gaining self- knowledge, brokering the much sought after balance in life and gaining a greater understanding of one’s individual challenges and strenghts as a leader. In many ways this entails coming to terms with the ideal image one might have of what a good leader does, in favour of building on the resourses and capablities one has as part of one’s particular personal and organizational context.

Meet the present without compromising the future


On an organizational level, a sustainable leadership practice, means to explore and develop ways of furthering participation and innovation, to lead change,while still maintaining relationships and securing a communication and a participation that don’t crumble under the pressure to achieve results. To find a way of leading that allows for the organization to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.

One key aspect of maintaining a sustainable leadership practice is to be part of a community and a network of peers that challenge and support you, having places, persons and relationships that can serve as resources and inspiration in your work. Therefore this holds a special focus in the Women Leadership Exchange Program, and is achieved through the network of women leaders participating as well as by the know-how and the communities of the organizing institutions.

Delegation meeting Carina Tempel, Executive Director, Fosie District Council, Malmö City.
From the left: Maryam Majid Bin Theneya, Noaf Tahlak, Carina Tempel, Hessa Tahlak, Dr. Aisha Bu Smait, Sultana Saif

Meeting Women Managers in Leading Positions


In the spirit of building a network of women leaders, the participants also met with women managers in leading positions within different organizations such as Malmö Stad, Tetra Pak, E.ON Nordic and Lund University.

What makes a successful pilot project?


The concept of "pilot projects" indicates a test run, a trial, with the clear and expressed purpose of learning for future projects. It is a concept that I appreciate greatly. Maybe more projects should be pilots or at least embrace the "learning" core of the pilot in order to keep the co-creative, experimental and learning aspects of leadership development alive.
Something we learnt immediately, through the great response evoked in both regions when we announced the Women Leadership Exchange Program to the world, was that it is an important and sought after initiative.

As we went public with our search for 12 managers based in Sweden and 12 managers based in the UAE, within the hour, we had people expressing their eagerness to participate.

In the end we ended up with 7 managers from Sweden and 12 from the UAE. While the short notice - two months before the start of the program -  drew down the number of participants from Sweden (full calendars and budget issues), the opposite was true for the Emirati participants, this even though the recruitment process in Dubai did not start until the beginning of May.

Program Direction: Erin Frazier (W4SG)

Half time lessons of a successful start


Regardless of whether it pertains to pilot projects or other endeavors, the crucial aspect of learning lies in the act to stop and reflect on the experience, which sometimes means to learn some rather hard lessons from mistakes and failures.

The issue of there being a minority of Swedish managers might not have been ideal but it was a great cause for reflection. What happens when you are in minority and majority and what does it do to you? The parallels to being a woman in leading position in a male dominated organization was not that far away. Also, the differences between the regions in regards to planning practices and the concept of time, also became something to talk about and learn from.

 

 

 

 

What happens when you leave your safe haven


Another great opportunity for learning presented itself when the participants, due to company visits early in the morning of May 23rd, left the secure and peaceful haven of Borgen at MiLgårdarna for the busy city life of Malmö. The chock and the contrast left many of us overwhelmed and a little disoriented, the bus ride from Klippan to Malmö, proving not to be enough time to prepare for the onslaught of impressions, sounds and people, not enough time to make sense of the powerful experience of sharing and opening up during the time spent in Klippan.

From that, there are two lessons to learn – be aware of what happens when you change location in the middle of a module (it might be good to consider staying at the first location) and make sure to continue making mistakes to learn from.

The setting of the program should not be so perfectly constructed that it becomes a parallel universe, completely foreign to, and cut off from,  the reality of life and the real life issues and challenges. By that I mean that having a safe haven can be important in order to be able to experiment and learn. Too far off from everyday conditions and circumstances may however make the transition and the treashold for turning insights (in the program) into action (back home) too steep.

How to turn new found insights into sustainable action


To me, this ”mistake" in design, though painful at the time, turned out to be one of the most important and real moments in the program with an obvious parallel to what happens to many participants when they return home from a similar experience and meet the reality of life again. Experiencing the disorientation of coming to Malmö, raised the questions of:

- How to make sense of what you have been through?

- How to hold on to new found insights in the busy life of everyday work and how to turn insights into changed behavior?

- How to communicate what you've learnt to those in your surroundings?



I think it proved to be one of the most important insights- the need to hold on when returning home, to be aware of the thin skin and the sensibility that comes from the experience.

The second, most important lesson for me that I hope to integrate in the next module, is therefore to make sure there is room for mistakes and unplanned events to influence the program and to have ample room and space to reflect on those occurences with the participants, so we can learn from them.

Next time in Dubai


Looking ahead, if the first module mostly focused on how to lead yourself, the second module in January 2013 will to a greater extent focus on how to lead others, to lead change and how to promote the development of sustainable communities of practice.

I look forward to new insights and lessons from this pilot project and I invite those of you that are curious to know more about the Women Leadership Exchange Program initiative, or have other questions or thoughts to share, to contact me.

Johanna Steen, MiL Institute

johanna.steen@milinsitute.se


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By Katarina Billing, MiL Institute



Why Reflection is Needed So Badly and Why it is So Scarce in Supply


[caption id="attachment_392" align="alignright" width="300"] Sculpture of Confucius by Zhang Huan at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. In the “Q Confucius”-exhibition the artist raised questions like “What does it mean to live in a Confucian way today?”. One of Confucius sayings was for example: “A good horse is praised not for its strength but for its virtue.”


The other day I was talking to the regional Asia-Pacific-HR- Manager of a major global company here in Shanghai. The picture he painted of the state of the organization was a grim one with a large management team meeting very seldom, with little trust in the team and no chance of support and empowerment and at the same time huge business challenges, barrier breaking goals and KPI:s in focus. A picture of an organization with high retention and a sense of frustration and severe stress among the employees, feelings of solitude, absent management and lack of talents wanting to take on larger responsibilities further down in the organisation. Business results: inadequate quality, loss of speed and innovative new business practices and solutions in short supply. In the long run, loss of direction, competitiveness and money.

—We really believe in reflection, but to tell you the truth I have very little time and resources ever working with it or promoting it, the HR manager confessed .

We all keep running
This scenario is by no means exclusive neither for this company, for this industry, for China nor for any other part of the world. I hear it over and over again, from Danish, American, Swedish, French, Swiss, Chinese companies etc. And in all kinds of segments: social media, manufacturing, retail, distribution, banking, telecom etc. The tale of the short-term focus, business as usual, action oriented, result- and KPI-driven approach. Most of us in business know the drill. We are awarded for being complacent and playing by the rules. Although we are convinced of the power of trust building, involvement, humanistic values and reflection as means to increase listening, learning and future creative solutions. We tend to go on running.


A quest for resilience
I think it is time to start focusing more on resilience. It refers to the idea of an individual's tendency to cope with stress and adversity. Many of the employees in the organisations I meet are stressed and one way of coping with it is shutting off and finding individual motivation when few alternatives exist due to lack of value based leadership, engaging visions and sound values being lived (and not only stated) in their respective companies on a day-to-day basis. Adding to that the multitude of information, the constant expectation and need to be “logged on” at all times and the matrix organisations where a confusion of loyalty often pervades leaves the concept of resilience and people practising it quite abandoned.


How to become resilient?
Some teams and organisations have the energy and faith though. I worked with a large Chinese organization some time ago. Their management school wanted to learn more about Action Reflection Learning, ARL ®, i.e. the MiL Institute learning philosophy and how to apply it in their business.


Concepts in ARL® like Presence (shutting out all irrelevant stimuli and focusing on the here and now), Connection (building trust and respect between us), Holistic involvement (seeing the team participants as persons not as roles, further not as a means but as ends in itself), Guided reflection (stopping to think, feel and share in order to learn for continuous improvement and increased life meaning) and Feedback (supporting the reflection as a means to create fresh air and breathing within a system) suddenly came alive and started to spin its threads tightening the team together. The team did not at any time leave their task but instead worked consistently with their goals and missions through ARL®.

This was a rewarding and energizing experience and the team is now busy living the ARL® philosophy in their development efforts within their organization but also in their own team life on a daily basis.
—We are now co-creating more. I have learnt to listen better and to increase my patience. And my co-workers show higher degrees of confidence, involvement and trust, the manager testifies happily.

This example shows some of the ways to build resilience, all of them thoroughly supported in psychological research. The ARL® philosophy supplies the organisation with a method and tools to make it happen.

Why do we resist practising reflection and building resilience?
Then why is it so difficult to “Just do it”? Two of the reasons are highlighted in the research on the negative social effects of excessive use of mobile phones that gets high attention in the media at the moment.


First of all, we are all psychological animals in need of social gratification, recognition and appreciation. Many of these needs are today satisfied through constant online access to e-mail, Facebook and other social network channels. Shutting them off (even for a short while) is perceived as a loss for the individual. It is consequently hard for an employer (or any other outside stimuli the report shows) to compete with these. Secondly this behaviour also fosters a lack of impulse control, i.e. we are used to getting what we want instantly, e.g. contact with our friends, a pair of new shoes through online shopping etc.

How can a manager “sell” reflection?
The list of explanations could become much longer. But if we look at only these two factors it is not hard to see why an employee from a work environment with low support, energy and involvement (like the one mentioned first in this text) could have some resistance to entering into a development process of any kind, say for instance of team development through ARL ®, working with connection and reflection. This need is already taken care of somewhere else and the organisation already has showed low credibility here.


As for the managers — “selling it” needs commitment and trust, something that is not present at the first place. Secondly, this development effort will reduce the speed not only of the work being done, since reflection takes some time at first (but is shown to improve results and speed long term) but also will be felt quite vividly in the room as a slow way of working (requiring attentive listening for example). Research has shown that stressed people are like drug addicts (Drugs, Stress Cause Similar Brain Changes – Malenka, R, Neuron, Feb 2003). Speed is like cocaine to them. If you take away speed you need to be able to sustain the individual with something else. To achieve this, MiL Institute often uses powerful tools coming close by tapping on emotions and relationships ensuring the involvement of each individual. But since we are also talking about a change process, altering people’s behaviour and ultimately the team/organisational culture, it also requires some time. Because as the dictionary Wikipedia accurately states:
“Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual”.

It is something we do together and in a reflected process over time. Time, neither of us has, right?

Reflection is indeed an endangered species in today’s business world. And it is certainly initially a slow and time-consuming companion. But hey, do you know of any other salvation? I am all ears.
Katarina Billing, MiL Institute
Certified psychologist, journalist, MiL Senior Partner and co-author to several books, among others: Earning while learning in global leadership. Heads the MiL research foundation and has the last four years been the programme director for the MiL programme for experienced managers. Is passionate about art and personal leadership. Responsible MiL China.

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I dag är det den Internationella Kvinnodagen vilket DN uppmärksammar genom artiklar om löneskillnader mellan män och kvinnor samt om det kvinnliga författarskapet. SVD tar upp debatten om "Hen" och Sydsvenskan lyfter upp statistik om våldet mot kvinnor.

Vårt första internationella ledarskapsprogram för kvinnliga chefer

Tidningarna den 8 mars präglas av ett förutsägbart fokus och årligen återkommande rubriker om än i nya tappningar. Också vi har valt den internationella kvinnodagen för att lyfta fram och väcka intresse för vårt första internationella ledarskapsprogram för kvinnliga chefer. Ett program där målgruppen är kvinnliga chefer från Sverige och Förenade Arabemiraten.

Är du en av deltagarna?

Till detta pilotprojekt som MiL Institute genomför tillsammans med Women for Sustainable Growth och Dubai Women Establishment söker vi nu 12 kvinnliga chefer baserade i Sverige och som har minst 5 års erfarenhet som chef med personalansvar.

Programmet kommer bli en spännande och utforskande utvecklingsresa från Skåne till Dubai, inte bara för deltagarna utan också för oss programchefer. Ett program som bygger på ett samarbete mellan Väst och Mellanöstern, mellan akademi och praktik men där det gemensamma fokuset ligger på att stödja utvecklingen av hållbara organisationer, ledare och relationer.

Ett hållbart ledarskap

Vi vill stödja deltagarna att utveckla ett hållbart ledarskap grundat i

  • självkännedom, integritet och en personlig ledarskapsteori

  • ödmjukhet, kulturell kompetens och nyfikenhet för olikheter

  • innovativa former för att skapa delaktighet och nytänkande

  • starka nätverk och nära gemenskaper för stöd, erfarenhetsutbyte och gränsöverskridande samarbete


Vi börjar resan den 21 maj i Skåne och om du vill vara med så ta kontakt med Johanna Steen på johanna.steen@milinstitute.se eller ring 040 -10 50 04.

Johanna Steen, MiL Institute

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The road to wisdom?

- Well, it’s plain and simple to express:
Err
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less

 

(Piet Hein: The road to Wisdom, Grooks, 1996)


Att famla, snubbla, falla, igen och igen, men allt mer sällan, allt snabbare åter på fötter, allt fler följeslagare på vägen.

Från en som famlar - ett ode till de erfarna – till de beprövade, berövade, ärrade, garvade. Kunniga, kloka och vana vandrare. Bevandrade, luttrade och förfarna förhandlare i ovisshet, i komplexitet och förändring. Visa av prövningar och utmaningar. Erfarna av motgångar och misslyckanden.

Från en som snubblar – ett ode till de som erfarit – till de som upplevt och genomlidit den plåga som är ovissheten. Som sett och bevittnat, känt och förnummit och som sökt att hantera det komplexa och föränderliga i relation och i omvärld. Som både trotsat den förlamande skräcken att göra fel och den eviga hetsen – snabbare, färre, fler! Som stannat upp och satt ord på det svårfångade, ringat in de gäckande sanningarna och blivit vän med de återkommande fällorna.

Från en som faller– but less and less and less– ett tack till erfarenheten, mitt förvärv under en oförutsebar resa. Kostsamma insikter och dyrbara sanningar. En rikedom skördad längs vägen, visshet efter visshet. En växande tillgång – som fördjupas, förädlas, för att aldrig förskingras – ju oftare den delas med andra.

Vägen till vishet?
- Nåväl, den är uppenbar och enkel att se:
Dela
och dela
och dela igen
med fler
och fler
och fler

Johanna Steen, MiL Institute


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... and often experience comes from bad judgement"

(Rita Mae Brown)


När chefer själva berättar om vad som har fått betydelse för deras utveckling som ledare är det framför allt utmaningar på jobbet, prövningar och misslyckanden som de tar upp (Johnson,2008). Särskilt viktigt är det att få, eller att anta, utmaningar tidigt i karriären. Uppdrag som utmanar det man tror sig veta om hur saker och ting - verksamheten, ledarskapet, organisationen och relationer - fungerar.

Det är lätt hänt i ledarskapssammanhang att tala om svårigheter och problem som vore de utmaningar och prövningar i en hjältemodig framgångssaga. Det är lättare att tala om övervunna hinder än om väggar där det tagit stopp, hinder man har slagit sig blodig mot eller projekt som man har tvingats överge. Och ändå ligger det en sanning i ordspråket:

 

"No physician is really good before he has killed one or two patients" (Indiskt ordspråk)

 

Uppmärksammar vi misslyckanden, (katastrofala) felbedömningar och misstag som de lärtillällen de är?  Till den grad som sig bör med tanke på vilken inverkan de kan få på individ, grupp och organisation? 


"If we could sell our experiences for what they have cost us, we’d all be millionaires" skrev Abigail Van Buren. Smärtsamma, plågsamma och kostsamma misstag. Och samtidigt, vilka ovärderliga rikedomar att sitta på. Inte bara för ens egen skull utan för utbyte med andra om man kan hitta de sammanhang där det är möjligt att dela med sig av erfarenheter vunna i framgång och motgång.

En framgångsrik erfaren chef är kanske inte alltid den med ständig medvind eller endast med framgångshistorier under bältet utan den som har misslyckats ofta och stort och som lyckas stanna upp och låta sig berikas av de erfarenheterna.

I mer än 30 år har MiL tillsammans med många av Sveriges mest erfarna chefer - det vill säga chefer som mött utmaningar, prövningar och misslyckanden - berett skapande rum för pröva nytt och lyckas, misslyckas, utvecklas och lära.

/Johanna Steen, MiL Institute

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