Empowering Women and Minorities for Leadership Positions

Creating Value – Embracing Diversity – Leading Mindfully

Context and current situation :

Although in the EU women make up nearly half the workforce and more than half of new university graduates, they are still under-represented in top leadership positions. And this not only applies to women: minorities are also hardly represented at top management levels, although demographics indicate that a diverse workforce is definitely needed in order to maintain current living standards and sustainable growth.

Change is already on its way :

One of the founding principles of the European Union is the equality of women and men. According to a Europe 2020 initiative, policy options for targeted measures to enhance female participation in decision-making at the European level will be implemented, forty percent of top leadership positions are to be held by women. In a number of European countries important steps have already been taken to support women on their path towards leadership positions. In March 2015, Germany decided to introduce a women quota: by 2016, thirty percent of board members have to be female.

However, a quota and targeting women alone is not enough. Minorities also have a role to play as Europe sees more emigration and immigration. What is more, qualifying, training and developing competent women and minorities will not happen over night. Additionally, men will also need to be included in this change towards more diversity.

This is exactly where we come into play:

We are convinced that all these efforts ultimately have one goal: managing future challenges by embracing diversity within companies and society as such. We simply cannot afford, not to utilise important resources – no matter whether they are women, minorities or older people.

On the other hand, our world is increasingly volatile, ambiguous, uncertain and complex. Looking at systems in a more holistic way, using all available resources therefore becomes a MUST! Emotional intelligence, mutual trust, empathy and mindful leadership will be key in this process in order to achieve sustainable goals, grow as individuals and organisations and mange future challenges.

DiversitynUI have recently teamed up with Sabine Chmielewski to build DiversitynU.com, tackling the challenges of the 21st century. We value humans first and believe that the secret lies in realising the enormous potential we all have.

What an exciting journey! Stay tuned and contact me to learn more or to ask for help/an offer.


Mindful Leadership and the influence of emotions on trust

Emotion: happyIn preparation of D. Goleman’s presence and presentation in Lausanne at the IMD later this week, I was reading some very interesting articles/research about emotions and their influence on trust.

As more and more leadership publications and organizational excellence discussions talk about emotions and how important these are for successful self-management, people-management and organizational functioning and well-being (for the company as a whole as well as for the people in it), I find their influence on trust highly important. Trust is indeed necessary for effective teamwork, functioning partnerships, management, social life etc. It really is the main ‘ingredient’ for making things happen, able to reduce the complexity that we are confronted at all times so that we can be together, work together, deal together in business matters and other things. Once lost, it is very difficult to re-build trust in whatever context.

Thanks to research conducted in the field of psychology and neuroscience we now slowly begin to better understand and value how our ‘brains’[1] function and why it is so important to listen to both of them. The idea, that certain emotions can influence trust is hence extremely interesting.

So far, I only knew of research identifying links between affective states (moods and emotions) and unrelated judgments[2] and not how specific emotions influence subsequent judgments. “Unlike moods, emotional states are typically shorter in duration (…)”[3] and they are more complex than moods. In their research, Jennifer Dunn and Maurice Schweitzer, found out the following correlation:

“Happiness and gratitude—emotions with positive valence—increase trust, and anger—an emotion with negative valence—decreases trust. Specifically, (…) emotions characterized by other-person control (anger and gratitude) and weak control appraisals (happiness) influence trust significantly more than emotions characterized by personal control (pride and guilt) or situational control (sadness). (…) Emotions do not influence trust when individuals are aware of the source of their emotions or when individuals are very familiar with the trustee.”

Applied to leadership, these findings are of great importance. As we have seen in one of my previous posts, certain mental qualities or attitudes, “(…) provide a rich soil in which the seeds of mindfulness can flourish: [4]

  1. Patience
  2. ‘Letting Go’
  3. Non-Judging
  4. Trust
  5. Generosity

To summarize: Under certain conditions, emotions such as happiness and gratitude thus increase trust whereas a key attitude for being able to plant the ‘seeds’ of mindfulness is also trust. If you thought that mindful leadership is out of your reach, well here’s a place to start!



[2] See Joseph P. Forgas for example

[3] Jennifer R. Dunn and Maurice E. Schweitzer:  “Feeling and Believing: The Influence of Emotion on Trust”, page 737

[4] Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go, there you are”, New York 1994, p. 3.

What it takes to lead multicultural teams


Today I want to write a short note about leadership in international teams as I get a lot of questions about what is important, what works and what not.

Well, one thing is for sure: leading teams composed of members from the whole world is certainly a lot of fun but also takes a lot of effort so that it can function in the right way, meaning that team members can realise their full potential and don’t feel threatened, not understood or unwell.

In a multicultural team it is very important that different opinions, views, understandings are always:

  • addressed,
  • explained and
  • understood.

By operating that way, you ensure that problems are discussed directly when they arise, so that no frictions – in the worst case leading to dysfunctional teams – can arise. What you are trying to do is to achieve the best possible synergies, not the adaptation of some individuals to the ideas and concepts of the others (this would create an asymmetric team dynamic) or even the resistance of some team members to the perceptions of the others which can lead to team members wanting to leave the team).

As all the team members are from different cultural backgrounds, they will all have different values and norms. By discussing these and finding synergies, you will create an atmosphere of convergence and trust, where all team members will make an effort to find a common ground of understanding. This in turn forms the basis on which you and your team can work together… and achieve your objectives, of course.

Don’t expect the basis you created to be there forever though! It has to be re-negotiated every time when a new issue arises as what is acceptable to one person doesn’t have to be acceptable for the other. A good and functioning international team relies on constant discussions, give and takes as well as on working out the synergies to balance the different opinions, ideas and strengths in your team. All the time!

Mindful listening, empathy and of course patience are the main ingredients that support the above mentioned processes. Being interculturally competent is a main skill nowadays which is required in nearly all workplaces (and even at home when two different nationalities decide to live together under one roof); without it, living and working in our present world becomes difficult.

What do you think?

Resources: Check out:

  • This blog for example, very interesting articles on Germans/Americans
  • This blog for great tools and articles about culture and intercultural competence