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Extraordinary women at The Royal Institution

The fourth and final day of the Cass MBA London Symposium 2016 saw four extraordinary women take to the floor of London’s esteemed Royal Institution.

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The fourth and final day of the Cass MBA London Symposium 2016 saw four extraordinary women take to the floor of London’s esteemed Royal Institution.

Opening the day’s proceedings was leadership consultant, Kate Philp.

In her talk, ‘Resources, Resilience and Adventure’, Philp drew on her extensive experience in leadership and communication from her time in the military, as well as key lessons she has learned from dealing with a life-changing injury sustained while on tour in Afghanistan.

Reframe challenges

“To face challenges,” she said, “You must become more effective at dealing with situations out of your control. You have to be resilient”.

Philp believes there are three aspects to resilience:

  1. Physical strength
  2. Mental strength
  3. Emotional strength

She told the audience, “Physical challenges are a good test for resilience and the easiest to undertake. Once your physical strength is depleted, you have to rely on mental strength and it becomes harder to make decisions. Once mental capacity is gone, you are faced with even more of a challenge in trying to maintain emotional resilience. But the rewards are worth it!

She said that reframing one’s understanding of challenges presents an opportunity to test resilience as well as re-evaluate what success looks like.

Trust over confidence

Philp believes that confidence is important, but trust goes deeper:

“Before you can manage others, you need to be able to manage yourself. To do that you need to have trust in yourself. Confidence can be faked (fake it ‘til you make it) and if the confidence isn’t real then it is not sustainable. Self-trust gives you so much more".

When leaders have self-trust they are more effective: they will believe in their own values and be masters of their own lives, which in turn inspire others to follow. All of which makes for a more authentic leader.

She said, “Divergent thinking or exploring all possible outcomes is important but not without action and reflection. There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others or adapting your leadership style to suit the situation, but you have mastered yourself first for it to look and feel authentic".

She added that within tripartite nature of resilience. Physical strength was easiest to build and emotional issues tripped people up the most, but she concluded that asking for help is not a weakness and leaders should make use of their available and greatest resources.

Her top five tips for success were:

  1. Be an example
  2. Exceed expectations
  3. Exercise body and mind
  4. Don’t just exist
  5. Be excited – life is an adventure!

The second talk of the morning was self-confessed “recovering HR Director” Lucy Adams - the Managing Director of Firehouse, a Communications, Change and Engagement agency focused on getting people to feel good about their business through different and more creative approaches. She is also the founding partner of The Disruptive HR Agency aimed at helping organisations to bring their approaches to people leadership into the 21st century.

“I have a strong belief that we have to do things very differently,” she said to the audience during her talk, ‘Leading in a Disrupted World’.

Changing leadership models

Describing her time as BBC’s Director of HR, she described what it was like to work in a ‘VUCA’ world (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous).

“In a VUCA environment leaders need to be able to respond to changing business models. The old industrial models don’t work…organisations need to adapt and move away from the command and control leadership model.”

She added, “There has been a lot of change. Competition is no longer binary. Our competitors are also our partners but they can also be our suppliers! Our professional relations hops are very different now, especially in the sharing economy.”

21st Century Leadership

According to the Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer trust in institutions and their license to operate is no longer automatically granted on the basis of hierarchy or title. Instead, trust must now be earned.

Adams added, “1 in 5 people believe that their leaders will tell the truth! There is no best practice anymore, leaders have to take a unique approach that works for their organisations.

People are capable of making food judgements but leadership models do not trust employees.

“Organisations have adopted the ‘parent and child’ relationship between their leaders and their employees. It’s absurd. The tools organisations use hark back to the ‘command and control’ model but we know this doesn’t work. Instead, we need to explore models that improve productivity and free people to do their best work ever”.

“Leaders need to strip back and do what they would do at home. Speak to your staff the way you would a friend or family member. Regain those human qualities that are so important and learn the power of storytelling over hard data…leaders don’t utilise the power of storytelling enough! Because very little that is effective or good comes from a process-led solution”.

About the Symposium

Day Four speakers:

  • Lady Barbara Judge, CBE, Chair of the Institute of Directors.
  • Dr. Helen Sharman, British scientist and astronaut.

You can read more about the other days of the Symposium below:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

The London Symposium provides MBA students with a unique opportunity to meet leaders from across a range of industries including business, finance, media, culture and sport. The theme for the third edition, which takes place from the 25th to the 28th April, is "Explorers & Discoveries". It will welcome more than 150 MBAs from all Cass MBA cohorts, as well as MBA teams from partner schools in Europe and South Africa.

The inaugural Cass MBA London Symposium was held in 2014 to celebrate Cass's unique network inside the heart of the global city. It mixes thought leadership in plenary sessions with a ‘backstage pass’ to some of London’s most iconic locations, brands and organisations which drive the city's prosperity - from the Treasury to the Ministry of Sound; Central St Martin's to Lloyds of London and from Soho to Savile Row.

The London Symposium is now the flagship MBA elective, providing students with excellent networking opportunities and access to some of London's most high profile and prominent business figures. Speakers in 2015 included, Dame Fiona Woolf, former Mayor of the City of London, Sir William Sargent, founder of Oscar-winning Framestore, Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holding, Chris Gottlieb the Head of Brand for the Mayor's Office, Graeme Craig, Commercial Development Director for TFL and Vernon Hill, Chairman of Metro Bank among many others.

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