Lead #likeagirl

  • March 8, 2019
  • Author: Abigail Clary

Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.
– Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Today is International Women’s Day — a day when we celebrate the achievements of women and focus the world’s attention on the need to challenge bias. The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, which is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. Women have made significant strides asking for and creating better gender balance in the workplace and beyond, and we should all be proud of that. We’ve done this not by conforming, but by embracing and expressing what we are: female.

As I have been thinking about what #BalanceforBetter means to me, I’m reminded of a book I read recently called the “Athena Doctrine.” Written by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio, the book gave me an alternative perspective on feminine traits and why these traits can help balance our leadership styles and make us more successful. So, to commemorate International Women’s Day, I want to explore this idea a little bit and hopefully leave all of you — men and women — with the inspiration to embrace your feminine side!

Enter the Athena Doctrine…

“Grace is when your kindness and your character are radiant through your actions.”
– Athena, Goddess of War

After noticing that many successful leaders in today’s modern world were leading differently than those in the past, Gerzema and D’Antonio hypothesized that people, in general, are placing more value on the feminine side of human nature than they ever have. Not the attributes that historically constitute gender, but rather the aspects of human behavior that are traditionally labeled as feminine like nurturing, supportive and expressive (and to be clear, these traits can be shared by women AND men).

To test this theory, they surveyed over 65,000 people from 13 countries. They asked a myriad of questions, and in the end, their findings showed that two-thirds of people (66%) felt the world would be a better place if men thought more like women (men, I am only the messenger here, although I did make the statement bold….). And interestingly, this perspective was shared regardless of sex, age, income or nation; 63% of men felt this way!

My interest was piqued. Like many women, I’ve had moments in my career where I’ve tried to emulate the masculine traits traditionally associated with some successful male leaders: dominance, assertiveness, control and the other behaviors that come to mind when you hear the phrase “man up!” But, when I reflect and consider how I have found my own success, it is largely defined by when I fully embraced the feminine characteristics that come naturally to me. This is when I became my authentic self.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to classify 125 characteristic traits as either masculine, feminine or neither. Here’s how participants responded.

And when survey respondents were asked to identify the top ten qualities they want in the ideal modern leader, eight were characteristics traditionally considered feminine. My mom was right all these years!

This data tells us what most of us already know: the world is changing in front of our eyes, and today’s global society is increasingly social, interdependent, personal and transparent. And in this world, the values and traits most often associated with women are ascending. Here’s a few of the classically feminine traits that really resonate with me, as well as some thoughts on ways to make them work for you and provide #BalanceforBetter in your leadership styles:

  • Connectedness – Build and maintain meaningful networks. Work on your network every day. Meet the person sitting next to you everywhere you go and listen to them, for real.
  • Humility – Approach life and relationships through listening, learning from others, and sharing the credit when credit is due, ALWAYS, no exceptions.
  • Candor – Speak with your colleagues openly and honestly and without degradation. They deserve straight talk along with compassion.
  • Patience – Recognize that sometimes the right solutions emerge slowly and keep at it until the right one is discovered.
  • Empathy – Be sensitive to the position of others and endeavor to understand it. This understanding will breed better ideas and ultimately better decisions.
  • Trustworthiness – Build a track record of doing what you promise. Strength in character will inspire confidence in yourself and your decisions along with the people who look to you for leadership.
  • Openness – Be receptive to all ideas and all people. Again, this approach will help you make better decisions and gain respect from your colleagues. And who knows, with an open mind, the most unexpected things can happen.
  • Flexibility – Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to change your mind; it is not a sign of weakness! Be prepared to shift directions and adapt. As you apply other traits like openness and empathy, you may find that pivoting is the best form of team building.
  • Balance – Have a well-rounded sense of purpose. Believe in it. Share it.
  • Vulnerability – Have the courage to be a human being behind the scenes and out in front. Being human is an amazing gift. We shouldn’t pretend to be anything else.

So, as you read this today on International Women’s Day, I hope you can find some inspiration to become better leaders, build stronger relationships, and leave the world a better place than we found it. You all have a #badass feminine side inside of you, go find her!

p.s. I also want to leave you with this quote from a woman who has always embraced her feminine side, Dolly Parton: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

Preach it Dolly.

HCI Event Recap: Upcoming Trends in Healthcare from Key Women in the Industry

  • June 13, 2018
  • Author: Abigail Clary

Image courtesy of HCI Chicago

The Health Care Institute (HCI) Chicago Chapter recently hosted its Spring Quarterly Event, titled Upcoming Trends in Healthcare from Key Women in the Industry. I had the pleasure of serving as a panelist, sharing the stage with three of the most well-respected leaders in healthcare design in Chicago — Victoria Navarro of Advocate Health Care, Julie Ford of CBRE, and Jenny Han of Skender Construction, who also facilitated. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

On Technology

The architecture industry has some catching up to do in terms of seamlessly integrating technology into our design processes for developing experiences for patients and staff. Traditionally, firms have lacked the expertise to specifically focus on future scaping and developing roadmaps for the technology aspects of experience, meaning it became an add-on for projects — often not well coordinated with the resultant outcome.

While today we can leverage visioning, modeling and simulation tools to ensure technology and design are connected in our designs, these do not take into account the fundamental road mapping necessary at the beginning of a project. The planning of the environment, operations and technology all have to occur simultaneously and use a unified approach to truly develop meaningful and purposeful experiences that align stakeholders’ needs, optimize infrastructure performance, and provide flexibility for the future.

On Drivers of Innovation

The AEC industry should be drawing inspiration from our health clients as drivers of innovation and adopting similar models to those successfully employed by the health industry. One of my favorite examples is the Kaiser Permanente Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center, a living lab that has generated hundreds of projects since its inception in 2005. Center director Jennifer Liebermann describes the Garfield Innovation Center as “a place where we push people to think about the future and test their ideas in a safe environment.”

Collaborative partnerships between Academic Medical Centers and outside industries have proven to be another successful vehicle for acceleration of innovation. Fast-track breakthroughs in medical technology have evolved from these transformational partnerships – including Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shoots Program — allowing the brightest minds in medicine, science and research to work side by side and generate new ideas together.

On Mergers and Acquisitions

While health systems’ mergers and acquisitions are intended to counteract and reduce the cost of healthcare, it is taking a hard toll on the architecture industry, fundamentally because M&As result in fewer clients to compete for. With fewer hospital systems out there for us to work with, we need to think more creatively about how our expertise and services can better serve our clients.

Compounding the pressures from M&As is the rise in design-assist and design-build. This project delivery approach moves many of the traditional architectural services during construction documents and construction contract administration to the contractors and subcontractors, reducing our contribution to the final product. With our downstream services becoming less frequent, we need to establish our relevancy upstream and demonstrate how our specific skillset as designers is valuable beyond only the build environment.

Moving Forward

It’s no secret that architecture is at a crossroads. And not only in the healthcare market, but across the entire industry. Now more than ever, our training and expertise as problem solvers and creative thinkers is needed to help us bridge the gaps between our industry partners — to redefine the role of the architect. A value-driven environment in healthcare should not inhibit transformation and design excellence; it’s just forcing us to use our unique skillsets of creative problem solving in new and even better ways.

A full report of additional takeaways from all speakers can be downloaded from the HCI website.

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