Treat others as they would like to be treated

Riccarda Zezza, CEO of Life Based Value and Manuela Andaloro, management consultant, joined forces to create a series of interviews aimed at portraying impact makers and leaders who are driving change and innovation worldwide, and in doing so, are raising awareness on a new successful type of genuine leadership. After a very successful first interview with Chiara Condi (Women, Women should stop asking what they’re worth), and with Dr. Mariarosaria Taddeo (Impact: Shaping, and throwing your heart into it), we continue our series with Fleur Bothwick, OBE, EMEIA Director of Diversity and Inclusion at EY and co-author of Inclusive Leadership. 

Fleur, I would like to reveal a few aspects of your professional life and the impact you have had. Shall we start with who is Fleur Bothwick today and how did you get where you are?

I’m the Director of Diversity and Inclusive Leadership (D&I) for the EMEIA Region at EY which is made up of Europe, Middle East, India and Africa with ninety-nine countries and 105,000 people.  My role entails developing, driving and embedding an integrated diversity strategy across a large multi-disciplined matrix organization.

A key focus for this role is stakeholder engagement, specialist consultancy, change management and brand development in the market.  I’m a regular conference speaker and contributor to articles and research in this field. I’ve published a series of thought leadership articles too, most recently on how to take the disability agenda global.

A couple of years ago, I co-authored a book on Inclusive Leadership to share what Charlotte and I had learnt over the years –  In 2013 I was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List in recognition of my contribution to workplace Diversity and Inclusion.

Where do the synergies between your professional and personal goals lead you daily? 

My professional and my personal goals are similar.  At the end of the day, I want people to feel inspired, to have a purpose and to feel that can fulfil their potential – both at school and in the workplace.  That’s why I’ve been working with the National Autistic Society for last five years to open a specialist secondary school for students on the autism spectrum in my local borough.  Our free school will open its doors in January 2020.

Why does management have such a bad reputation in some corporations? If it is because of bad management, how does one not become one and how can you thrive among them? 

I think there are many reasons why companies get a reputation for bad management. Usually it boils down to the culture and company values.  If companies don’t appreciate their talent and focus purely on results, it’s more likely to see lower engagement and a less happy workforce.  Personally I wouldn’t struggle to thrive in such an environment – I would leave them to it and find somewhere else to contribute.

We know that in the era of digitalization it is increasingly important for leaders to leverage EQ and soft skills such as collaboration, empathy, understanding, skills that have been vital in private life are now the base for a successful professional life too. How are we re-skilling old school leaders and management?

Most workplaces don’t need command and control. Real leaders can see this.  People don’t join a company ‘for life’ any more. The gig economy is growing. The future of work is already here in so many ways, especially with the rise of AI and robotics.  For any company to thrive, the leadership have to bring their people with them and embrace workplace diversity.

How can women and men pursue a different type of leadership that champion workplace diversity? How can they avoid some of the pitfalls that bad managers make?

Inclusive leadership is all about first of all understanding your own motivation, your preferences and style and then being able to identify what works for other people.  It’s moving away from ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’. Now it’s more about ‘treat others as they would like to be treated’.  It’s a leadership that is present – not listening at the same time as doing your emails and it’s a leadership that makes sure that everyone in the room/on the phone has a voice.

Inclusive Leadership has been officially shortlisted in the ‘Management Futures’ category for the 2018 Management Book of the Year prize which has just been announced by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the British Library. From the Back Cover: The most successful organisations are those with the most diverse and engaged workforces. Studies show an 80% improvement in business performance among those with high diversity levels. When people feel included and able to reach their full potential, they are more engaged, more productive and often more creative.[/caption]

What is the biggest professional mistake women are still making – what should we stop doing?

There are two things for me.  One is that we all do guilt very well, particularly working mothers. The eldest of my three boys is now 20 and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  They don’t feel scarred by the fact that their mother juggled work and homelife when they were small. If anything they are more attuned to the challenges of the workplace and their role in achieving equality.  The other thing we do too often (and I’m not saying men don’t do this) is that we strive to deliver 120% on everything when often 80% would be good enough.

Will the Millennial generation be a very different kind of leader?

I’m not sure that they will be ‘very’ different.  Definitely we are seeing changes. There is more of an interest in building a better working world. Plus, more men want to play a more hands on role in the home.  That said, we were told Gen X would enter the workforce and change the landscape.  There has been some shift, but it’s slow.

Any success habits you would like to share? 

This is a highly pragmatic tip that came out of an Ideas Jam.  We asked people to think about how they could change what they currently do to be more effective, both individually and as a team.  I realized that the default setting on outlook for meetings was always an hour.  So I changed it to 45 minutes for phone calls (maybe 6 or 7 calls a day).  I started to get back on average 1.5 hours a day and the calls remained focused and productive.

There is a large debate going on around the future of work. Think digitalization, gig economy and open talent economy, glass ceiling and Millennial’s different perspectives on work. What is your take on the status quo and what do you think the future holds? 

I think much of the ‘future of work’ is here already, with of course more to come.  We come across AI all the time (not always positively) and we have robots already doing some audit work.  The gig economy is thriving. I am thrilled to be able to shop and bank on line at any time of the day to suit.  I think the future is all about opportunity, but we need to make sure we are ready for it.

A few final words of wisdom and tips for our career-oriented impact-makers, professionals and entrepreneurs alike, women and men?  

No job is worth burning out for.  It’s important in this 24/7 world that you establish some basic boundaries and learn to switch off.  I’m not the best at it. But when I do take a full weekend out or even longer, I come back refreshed, focused and more impactful.