What is the portrait of a female Director? Are there phrases like a square leader in a round table boardroom when it comes to women in leadership? These were the questions that arose during the Lady CEO Roundtable on Wednesday, 6th May 2015 at the Women in Executive Leadership League Summit held at Strathmore Business School. Eliciting heated discussions, the topic; Which leadership style has a more positive enduring impact: Competitive or Collaborative? brought together captivating panelists, Anna Othoro – Nairobi County Executive Committee Member in Trade, and Eva Muraya CEO, Brand Strategy and Design Limited, BSD Group who shared their experiences while Dr. Angela Ndunge moderated.
Striking a balance between joining the competitive bandwagon in the boardroom or a cohesive approach through collaboration, was a journey Anna Othoro took the participants through. Having worked in corporate Kenya for over five years, letting go of a familiar landscape was a view she never thought she would lose sight of. At a certain level, it stopped being about how hard you worked and it changed to how much influence you drew, she said. She then became an entrepreneur and joined the government years later; a three-stop journey she attributes to her resilient and diligent character. Competitiveness has its limits, you are only as good as the other person can get but collaborative leadership is what gets people to move, get up every day and work with passion. What is the trick? You succeed as a team, not as an individual.
Eva Muraya, a strong and bold entrepreneur was one to capture a listening ear. A creative mind she is, she led the audience through her toughest life lessons all coupled on her life challenges. What did it take to get her out of her comfort zone into owning her enterprise? In her response: Courage; harnessing the audacity to ask tough questions, Diligence; to accept that you need to learn and grow, Character; an impactful leadership style has to be endowed in good character, a budding commitment to clients and lastly wear a lens of compassion. The biggest pitfall of any leader is failing to listen. In other words turning down any form of collaborative partnerships, she said.
Was there presence of failure in their lives?
Your experiences prepare you for the next journey. You do not leave your experiences behind, said Anna. Eva on the other hand learning from her biggest pitfall – failing to give a keener listening ear, has since curved the character of an endearing woman, one who is more than willing to grow and see others grow before her. Pruning needed to occur.
Anna acknowledged that most of the times leaders have to take the leap of faith.
The sessions culminated under a general consensus that collaborative leadership style was an approach they had to take if they wanted to make the desired impact in their respective places of work.