Redefining Leadership and Excellence to Succeed in the Workplace
All over the world, the role of women in society has been dramatically shifting from the time they were allowed to cast their votes and claim their rights, to modern-day movements to promote more women to the executive board in organizations. Focusing on our day-to-day encounter with women in our workplace, from huge organizations in skyscrapers to start-ups in flexible office spaces, in the Philippines at least, women are taking more dynamic and challenging roles in organizations. These empowered women are redefine the strengths and leadership qualities that are inspiring other women to slowly break away from the stereotypes and establish their own management styles in the modern-day workplace.
KMC Solutions sat down with leaders in their organization to talk about how women view leadership today. During the brief discussions, Atty. Amanda Rufino Carpo, Legal Counsel and Co-Founder of KMC Solutions, and Ces Rondario, Co-founder and CEO of Impact Hub Manila, talk about their experiences and insights on leading organizations and the challenges that come with this role.
We asked our female leaders on what they think are the most significant barriers to female leadership. Atty. Carpo said that she views “attitude, pre-disposition, and prejudice” as some of the barriers to women taking leadership roles. According to her, “...It is always out of the ordinary to be a female leader.” and that, usually, people who are benefiting from this situation do not wish to “change” the status quo.
Ms. Rondario, on the other hand, appreciates the benefit of being raised in a country that has a culture that is more accepting of women in leadership roles. But, being in a country that embraces the importance of strong mothers and homemakers, she believes that the main challenge is not about “men being recognized as more” but about women being predisposed to embrace certain societal and professional roles (e.g. if you’re a woman you ought to be a housewife, a teacher or a bank teller) There’s nothing wrong with these roles, but these can affect the way women think of their potential and capabilities. Similar to the views of Atty. Carpo, Ms. Rondario believes that the main barrier is mindset.
To overcome these barriers, women need to take a more active approach to change this attitude from resistance to acceptance, and encourage women to shift their view from the back seat and be part of the front row and participate in the conversation, without the need to be invited. Women have to “want” to be part of these discussions, because if women don’t want it, then it’s easier to find excuses and claim to be disregarded or discredited. The barrier that comes from the thought that “we were not invited to the conversation” is, in fact, all in the mind.
Rising above stereotypes
It’s not men’s fault that things are sometimes easier for them, says Ms. Rondario. But, women also have to accept that it’s going to be a bit tougher on their side of the ring, but it’s not the fault of the other gender either.
Women have to rise above these stereotypes by encouraging inclusion, instead of deliberately excluding themselves and others from whichever environment they are in. To rise above these stereotypes, women have to talk to men about their views and opinions, and not just talk to fellow women about it. Ms. Rondario believes that “preaching to the choir” doesn’t change anything. Stereotypes can be overcome by going to the core of the issue and identifying the pain points, insecurities, and ego-drivers of individuals (regardless if these individuals are men or also other women) so women can push those who are on the other side of the fence to dig deep and ask the right questions until these stereotypes are dissolved.
Developing core strengths to support female leadership
Once these stereotypes and challenges are identified and acknowledged, women have to, then develop core strengths to continue to grow and succeed in every role or environment that may come their way. For Atty. Carpo, women have to be wiser, focused, firm, and unafraid to get their message across. Women can sometimes be held back by their fear of being offensive or bossy. But, to Atty. Carpo, resolving misunderstandings can be dealt with later on. Women have to uphold the truth and strive to get the message across, no matter how difficult the message could be.
Ms. Rondario has also seen that women have the tendency to go against other women instead of encouraging and empowering more women to see the same horizon. Atty. Carpo emphasizes discretion and being careful on trusting people, while Ms. Rondario points self-awareness as a major strength for women to overcome conflicts. The baseline of issues usually does not consider gender as a determinant -- it all boils down to individual preferences and differences, which could be resolved by being more aware of oneself, how one would react and deal with other people, and the biases we have against these other people, regardless of their gender.
According to Ms. Rondario, women also have to learn that people have different priorities and are at different “timings” in their lives. Instead of worrying too much about how to influence or change people’s minds about certain issues, one can instead focus on laying out the foundation that can help people, and give them space to “figure things out”. Leadership is not about imposing your own priorities on other people. Instead, it is maximizing the capacities of the people around you, keeping in mind their personal timings and priorities, and harmonizing this to reach a singular goal.
Looking back and forward
Having bad days are inevitable, but there will always be better days ahead. To survive the bad days, and anticipate the good ones to come, Atty. Carpo advises women to always remind themselves that any difficult situation will come to pass, and there’s always a solution, it will just take some time. This is true for women who are leading big organizations, jumping from one team meeting to another in different office locations, or for women starting up their own business in a small corner table inside a coworking space. Women have to be both comfortable wherever they are, but at the same time continue to push the boundaries and charge on to the future.
To celebrate women’s month, KMC Solutions will gather inspiring women, including Atty. Amanda Carpo herself, to talk about their experiences and share outstanding insights on female leadership and excellence, dissolving conventional labels against women in the workplace. This event entitled “Who Run The World” will happen on March 14, 2018 from 3PM to 5PM at the KMC Solutions Skydeck at 25F Picadilly Star Building 4th ave cor 26th st, BGC. For more info or to sign-up for the free event, click here.