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Leadership, Finance, Women and Membership Organisations

Last week I met up with Ha-Dieu Ford. Ha-Dieu is the Chair of Women in Finance in Victoria, a position she has taken on with a wealth of experience in the financial sector since completing initial financial studies in the 1990's.

Our discussion revolved around Ha-Dieu's thoughts about Responsible Leadership which is one of her core interests with being Effective in Business.

Ha-Dieu explained that Responsible Leadership is about focusing on a style of business across all sectors that incorporates:

  • Communications
  • Outcomes
  • Results and
  • Feelings

To start, leaders need to move away from blame and take personal responsibility for outcomes and mistakes. It important as leaders that you ask yours questions on how you are contributing to your own professional development, your team, your stakeholders, your industry and our organisation.

If we look at how this has worked with Ha-Dieu since commencing with Women in Finance, everything began with first understanding the business model and key proposition for their member base.

From perspective as their Chair, Ha-Dieu needed to ensure the organisation continued to deliver benefits to increase their participation and engagement with members through an effective framework. This framework began with creation of their vision. This vision commence with understanding why drove the industry to a platform like Women in Finance and a vision for the future of Women in Finance.

Developing their future vision also required looking back at what had worked and what had not worked during the bull markets prior to the GFC and how this knowledge could be incorporated into a new focus.  2010 also brought about a refocus on quotas and diversity issues in the business world which greatly assisted the value of the work of Women in Finance and there was an increase focus organisations looking at Women in Finance as an external outsource solution/program to address the diversity criteria for organisations.  This was a perfect opportunity for Ha-Dieu to review the field of sustainability for her organisation.

Stepping back from the value generation included considering 'Why would I join as a Member?' whether as a woman, man, business or corporate.

Underlying this whole thought process the key consideration of Responsible and Ethical Leadership was part of all key decisions.

For example, introducing new member benefits program to introduce a mentoring program for women was considered key to contributing to the professional development of women in the financial sector. 

Another new member benefit initiative was the introduction of a public speaking club (using Toastmasters International program). This was seen as very important for facilitating networking & professional development of members in their networks.  Whilst the some of the key goals of the Women in Finance platform’s was about professional development and professional networking for middle to senior management, men have been encouraged to participate in the member benefits program and represent 10% at various networking events and forums.

Even when looking at the mentoring program, the stakeholder who reported to receive the most benefits from the program was the men who participated as mentors.  Ha-Dieu believes that to create change and a paradigm shift, it’s important to engage and include men in the process.

When asked about the importance of a Sustainable Future:

Sustainability is an important part of being a responsible leader. Not just in the essence of being green. Sustainable future depends on leaders providing security for their organisation into the future. This was one of the lessons from the past where funds were poured into other areas like speakers rather than the most important areas - like programs to benefit members i.e. website and branding, mentoring, toastmasters public speaking.

As a responsible leader, Ha-Dieu believes any membership organisation should continue to look at ways to spend their money effectively and to continually increase member benefits, whilst identifying gaps and meeting the needs of their corporate members.

More leaders are looking for ways to invest time in contributing to networks through valuable communications that lead to collaborations and even sharing of IP. Thereby, the future of Women in Finance will look more about how to support their networks with business orientated events that invest in members needs - like mentoring - to complement valued speakers who now speak without requiring payment.

Returning back to what Ha-Dieu sees as the key attributes of a responsible leader, Ha-Dieu explains...

"It all starts with values... skills are secondary."   Whilst experience is important, it’s easier to acquire new skills but difficult to teach people values.

Ha-Dieu believed skills and experience are important as your need that to effectively execute strategy, management and marketing for the business.  However supporting this is her values based approach to decision making and believes that this is important element building the organisation and aligning with the vision of the organisation and stakeholders. 

Some of her core values include the following:

  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Innovation and Marketplace differentiation
  • Gratitude - supporting those who support you

Values based leadership incorporated into the abilities of responsible leaders enable the ability to contribute continuously to changing markets, whilst always the “How Questions How can I add more value to the organisation, the members, the committee and the industry?”  Support and recognising all those who have contributed toward their future success and everyone they impact upon.

And that brings us to the final element that Ha-Dieu sees very important for a responsible leader - feelings.

As a Responsible Leader, if it feels right, you are likely to be on the right track. The whole concept of feelings is embedded in our psyche and communications. There are many terms that even become a little clichéd in our current society - like 'Gut Feeling' or 'Speaking from the Heart'.

The truth is our feelings guide us and responsible leaders are connected with values that help others before themselves. If it feels right as a responsible leader, continue what you are doing and adjust as required.

Another Directors Report by Grant Crossley 

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Reader Comments (1)

Very good article but marred by too many grammatical errors.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAna De Vittor

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