C-Suite InsightsTips

Deborah ThomasOn Monday September 17th, Soul at Work celebrated its 5th anniversary at the Leading Women's "Candid Conversations from the C-Suite" as a Supporting Sponsor.  We were there for triple bottom line goals:

  • To promote the conversations we were having about Soul at Work;
  • Glean insights and tips from featured panelists on advancing change in their executive position; and
  • Continue to engage in the goals of Vision 2020 (see more below!).

So how do you make change?  Read on and please do comment below!!

Insights and tips from the C-Suite: Deborah Thomas, SVP & CFO, Hasbro; Laura Adams, President/CEO, RI Quality Institute;and Catherine L. Ormerod, Project Director of Vision 2020

Susan Colantuono interviewed and facilitated the conversation, which offered up honest stories about leadership mindset, ratio of strategy time vs. operational time, joy, successor, family and support, and how to get other women to advance--debate of quotas or no quotas to get the conversation going!

Leadership Mindset: Laura Adams was clear that she and her employees had to have an "impenetrable sense of ethics" and power of vision to keep the organization and themselves on course as to why they did daily mattered.  We quickly heard from  each of the CEO's how they spent 75-80% of their time on strategy and planning, and that it was an imperative to trust their team to implement...and to get out of the way.  As Deborah Thomas said, it is about adding relevance to strategy and connecting operations to purpose, and keeping the team on focus.  For Catherine, leading as a Director was to activate other's talents.  The problem she is trying to move forward with Vision 2020 is too big to do alone, so attaching people to a shared value and a vision to make it "happen" is the main work she does.

Joy: In terms of "joy" all the panelists agreed that they felt compelled by their organization's industry--that the work was funLaura Adams, as well as a passionate pursuit.  As Deborah exclaimed: "we make toys for children, and that brings more happiness!"  For Laura and Catherine it was about a social and personal mission that fueled their aspirations.  As Laura succinctly put, her drive for excellence in the health care industry was to raise the bar, and that innovation in this regulated industry was to shorten the gap between "what we have" to "what we could have", therefore dramatic change matters.  As an example, she brought up the rates of infection or injury from a medical treatment or procedure, that the regulations give an "allowable" iatrogenic rate for this kind of error and hospitals were aspiring to not exceed it.  Laura exclaimed, "What about aspiring to Zero rate!" so no one is made sick or injured due to medical error. Catherine reiterated that Vision 2020 was now and she was joyful that the women on board would make it a reality and worth working towards as a process and journey not just an outcome!

Family and Support: When asked about the family support each agreed they had help from other women, family and babysitters--other none of their situations were stress-free, they were deliberate about what they needed and what each valued in their personal lives.  Laura put a spin on that: "When I realized my marriage was failing, I made sure I had a healthy divorce" so her child had both parents and was taken care of by both, instead of torn apart.

Lastly, two questions loomed large: nurturing a successor and advancing other women--quota or no quota?  The clear take away for a successor was be courageous, have a willingness to take on projects, and to get feedback, even if it hurts and haunts, it will help you grow.  Oddly, Laura quickly added "I had to work on my social skills, I was so quick to jump into the work that I would overlook the vulnerability of others.  One day I was starting a meeting, and someone mentioned that Peter his parakeet had died.  My mentor told me 'the contortions on your face were palatable...you know you need to take 1 minute to help your team process the personal, you need to work on that!' So from now on I am gracious and open to vulnerabilities others and my own!"  For Deborah, she gave advice to other corporate leaders:  "You should have hired and trained your successor already.  Foolish to think they will come from outside, nurture your team now!"  And that goes for advancing other women to  leadership roles and on boards--reach out, go ahead demand a quota it might start the conversation and get folks thinking differently about behaviors, policies, and importantly be abundant with opportunities.

Catherine Ormerod

Catherine of Vision 2020 added in summary that we all can aim to get the national conversation pointed to gender equality of women in corporations, leadership positions, on board of directors, and with wage equity, so that we can better our country for women and men.  Sign the declaration below and get invovled!





Sign the declaration of equality: http://www.drexel.edu/vision2020/get_involved/declaration/

See the film here and get involved!


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