I recently saw the movie Vantage Point, which is a story of a presidential assassination. This movie examined the different viewpoints of the individuals that saw the unfolding events from different angles and perspectives. It struck me that individuals within an organization are often viewing strategy, initiatives, and organizational designs from different perspectives. As an executive, how do I become certain that the organization is benefiting from these varied perspectives and views?
As a new business woman, I was fortunate to have a strong mentor that helped me to understand that women are very good at managing, because they manage with what she called a “web of inclusion.” She never had an organizational chart that was hierarchical; her organizational reporting structure looked like a spider web. Each member of the team had a connection to each other member of the team. The people closest to the work created the strategies and the policies, while people that supervised them eliminated the barriers and helped to cascade the messages that were needed.
This mentor also helped me to give up “barbie” as a role model. In the early ’70s, women were expected to work, marry, and have babies and then maybe, if their spouses permitted, to work part-time. She was an example of an executive that could blend family and work and be successful at both. Even in the most important meetings, if a call came in from her spouse or children, she would take that call.
I have had tremendous opportunities throughout my working career to work with strong, successful women who have been willing to share and to give hints on how to manage both family and work. These women have also been willing to help me advance and succeed. One actually told me, “I believe there should be a place in hell for women who do not help other women.”
As an executive, I have learned to appreciate and welcome different perspectives, organize my resources in a web, throw out Barbie, Ken, and the motorcoach, and help other women.