For eight months in 2014, starting in February, Orijen led a collaborative program with Diversity Partners (read latest newsletter) and NAWO, the National Association of Women in Operations, to deliver a Transition to Executive Leadership program for high potential female leaders, with groups in both Sydney and Melbourne.

NAWO helps organisations share positive practices, gives women working in operations practical tools and mentoring to develop and enrich their careers, and influences the diversity agenda at higher levels to help ensure a robust pipeline of female talent for leadership positions in operations.

Jenny Morris, assisted by Glenda May, designed and led the program, bringing participants together every month in a facilitated coaching circle to address strategic decision-making and high-level business management skills, as well as negotiation, personal presence and unconscious bias in the workplace. The modules focused on:

  1. Authentic leadership – understanding different leadership styles and recognising your own strengths and abilities
  2. Negotiation and influencing skills – strategies to persuade, influence and communicate more effectively, manage conflict constructively and build networks
  3. Building the total business picture – a classroom simulation where each participant was the CEO of a company, from startup through 25 years of operation, and needed to make (and assess the effectiveness of) major strategic and tactical business decisions
  4. Career management – reflecting on personal visions, planning, goal setting, finding mentors and coaches, work/life balance and managing your personal brand.

Within each session, the group shared feedback on what worked well and less well, and resolved issues and challenges coming out of the module.
At the end of the program women identified real, personal benefits from their experience in the circle. Comments included:

  • “I wanted to, and did, engage with other women”
  • “I have greater self-awareness and value my reputation more”
  • “I know now that negotiating is not a dirty word – I can play in that field and live by my values”
  • “I have more confidence that I deserve to be in my role, and feel more freedom to take risks”
  • “I learned useful techniques and tools that I have shared with my team”
  • “I know that I need to take responsibility for my career and my brand”
  • “It was great to share good days and horrendous days with the group”
  • “I see how important it is to slow down and take time to reflect”
  • “The program challenged my beliefs and made me see things differently”
  • “I feel reassured, it’s okay not to know everything and okay to have emotions”
  • “I learned not to always wait, but to be brave and have a go”
  • “It was enlightening, how many types of personalities can be effective leaders”
  • “Senior leadership doesn’t have to come at a cost, I’ve seen women with great balance”
  • “The major change for me was learning to delegate, let go control, and spend more of my time thinking”
  • “Being in the group helps so much, to know I’m not on my own and many of my issues and concerns are common”
  • “You need to be genuine and true to yourself”
  • “I learned from the group the courage to make hard decisions”
  • “I thought I was a good leader, but this has helped me approach my reports differently and our relationship is much better”
  • “I need to keep practicing to make it real”.

Thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated, everyone at NAWO and to Diversity Partners.