In Leadership and Management Development

Kathrine Switzer

In secret, an imposter signs up for Boston Marathon… when a race official finds out he immediately attacks.Feel free to pass this on! ❤️

Posted by Sharing is Caring on Thursday, 8 March 2018

 

Kathrine Switzer inspired me to frame my thoughts on her feat back in 1967 and others that came to mind.

I’m in a fortunate position where my role gains and enables access to senior leadership teams and individuals, men and women alike across industry verticals.  All trailblazers in their own right as was Kathrine Switzer back in 1967, and many before and after her.

Whilst researching something else, I came across this video totally sidetracked as one window leads to another, you know how it goes. That said, the headline was interesting enough to catch my mind, so I watched it.  At first, I loved her audacity and strategy to show up in a group where someone had decided she didn’t belong. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as it appeased the ‘naughty kid’ in me. 

Then came the big ‘reveal’ which appeared to be less planned, purely down to the fact she was hot and needed to shed a layer or two. By doing so, a few things happened. Did you notice? On one hand appalling behaviour and the other, commendable.  

Thing is, women are still looking for a seat at the table in business, sport and in some cases life.  Which begs the question why isn’t change happening at a rate that is acceptable and demonstrative of our time? After all, there are just about equal proportions of both sexes across the world according to Country Meters, other research and of course Wikipedia.

What’s surprising is, it’s been 50+ years since this took place, but yet the same conversation is still taking place. Which led me to think about what else can be done about this? I know this topic is hot and there are many people and organisations doing great work to raise the necessary visibility on this subject, but what else can, needs to be done? 

From my perspective, it needs to be addressed from a young age. School age in fact.  Parents, teachers, students’  both girls and boys, so they understand the benefits of a mixed committee if you like. How different perspectives bring about awareness. Awareness brings empathy. Empathy leads to change amongst other things.

Psychologists studies state that empathy leads to cognitive change and with its occurrence a change in mindset which leads to making a choice about how we behave.  I think that’s exactly what we need.

A white paper from 2017 states Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experience of others. Empathy is more than simple sympathy, which is being able to understand and support others with compassion or sensitivity. suggest the ability to have and display empathy is an important part of leadership

Allegedly females have this in spades according to the likes of Forbes and other sources, but that’s not to say it’s the only requirement for a leadership position, obviously not. 

What is clear is that behaviour is the quintessential ingredient required to ensure a sustainable, commercial economy, (plus environmental but that’s another conversation), which applies to everyone.  It’s why it shouldn’t be just about a seat at the top table. It should be about achieving this at every level of leadership, junior management to C-suite, otherwise how can the bigger picture be achieved?

It can be done, we just need to do it. Just like the guys in the clip. Take part and support the right person for the role. It’s not one gender’s responsibility, it’s our responsibility as human beings. No one is excluded: Women supporting women, men supporting women, women supporting men and men supporting men. It’s a people thing.

As I said at the beginning of this conversation, let’s start with our children so no one becomes a sympathy vote, pick, a tick in the box. No one wants one of those, do they?

 Lillian Latto – MD MATCHFiT Consults.

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