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'Women In Senior Positions Need To Bring Other Women Along The Journey'

We spoke to Letizia Amadini-Lane, VP, Strategic Alliances at SBP

7Jul

Letizia Amadini-Lane is a leadership development consultant with a rare combination of business pragmatism, creative vision, and global mindset. A business executive for 25+ years, Letizia has extensive experience in corporate development, business transformation, strategic alliance creation, and government relations. She has created her own innovative leadership development technique that uses images to help participants access and express deeply held attitudes about leadership. This engaging approach increases leader self-awareness and builds high-performing leaders and teams by driving deeper thinking and stimulating more open and personal conversations about leadership. Letizia has designed and delivered leadership development programs around the world for executives and their leadership teams.

We sat down with her ahead of her presentation at the Women In Enterprise Summit, taking place in Boston this October 25-26. 

How did you get started in your career?

I started my career as a pharmacist after gaining my doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Rome. That very first experience of truly extraordinary interactions with patients set my heart and professional vison on making a difference in people’s lives. After a few years, I moved to the USA where I started working in the pharmaceutical industry, gaining extensive experience in corporate development, business transformation, strategic alliance creation, and government relations. I worked in global corporations and international agencies in the private and public sectors to help improve access to medicines in developed countries and emerging economies. In the second half of my career, still true to my values and vision to make a difference in people’s lives, my interest in the underlying drivers of business success led me to shift from profit center focus to organizational and leadership development, with further personal development in psychology. That led to the work I am doing now in leadership development for executives and their teams.

What do you think is behind the lack of women in senior positions? How do you think companies could do more address any imbalance?

There is a lot of discussion about the lack of women in senior positions and some good thinking on how to address it. My personal perspective is: ‘You are a woman, I am a woman. I know how hard it is to stand for women’s values in a highly patriarchal society. Let's not betray our reality.' What I mean is that women in senior positions need to bring other women along the journey. Women in more junior positions need to seek mentorship and guidance from senior women. It cannot be an individualistic approach; it must be a collective action even if at the very core it is still a personal journey. At different stages of my career, I had three incredible very senior women, who mentored me and 'pulled me up'. They encouraged me to go where I might never have dared to go alone, and I would have not progressed and developed if it wasn’t for them. If a senior woman in your company doesn’t want to offer her support and mentorship…move to the next one.

How do you think HR departments can encourage women into leadership?

I personally think that HR can’t encourage women to step into leadership positions if HR doesn’t design and implement a strategic and multi-pronged approach that is set to recognize and operate within a much bigger system. For example, instead of promoting a 'balanced-life' and sending women to Yoga classes during working hours, they - we all - should support an 'integrated-life'. That is very different. If we think about it, the simple act of ‘balancing’ is a tremendous expenditure of energy and a very difficult status to maintain: it is 'either or'. If instead, we integrate, we not only simplify life, we free energy that can be used in more focused and effective ways. If the babysitter doesn’t show up, bring your child with you and have little chairs in your office or…in open space!

What will you be discussing in your presentation?

A number of years ago I was asked to assess and develop a leadership culture for a global organization of about 11,000 people. We held focus groups and did quantitative research, but it was not helping me to understand the triggers of the behaviors that were driving certain actions within the organization. Because of my studies in analytical psychology and because images are regarded as a universal language, I thought, why not use images to dive deeper? Images elicit ideas, attitudes and emotions in a profound and authentic way, which allows us to better perceive, understand and act upon the patterns that emerge. And the outcome was something I call Visual Leadership(sm), a powerful, results-oriented leadership development technique. I will be sharing my work in this area, with many examples of images and their meaning, and how it’s led to increased leader self-awareness and more open and productive conversations about leadership.

You can hear more from Letizia, along with other leading women in enterprise, at the Women In Enterprise Summit. To register your interest, click here.

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