food for thought.... · Leadership · Professional · Uncategorized

Difficulties and opportunities of being a female leader in critical situations

For years I have been struggling with the idea of being the right leader, the right co-worker, the right mother, the right wife, the right daughter, the right sister, but I have forgotten the idea of simply being me as woman, a girl, simply myself…

The expectations are all around and somewhere in this journey we just leave behind the one thing we have, that is the most powerful and the most wanted characteristic of a female – the diversity of having born a instinctive human being, with emotion, who cares….

I already lost the number of times that something made me think over my actions, decisions, and the whole path that took me to these actions, decisions – and normally there are only two situations identified – the moments that I am proud of how I did it and I do not put too much thought on it, and the moments which I do not feel comfortable, and I do feel that I am not following what is right, and normally when this happens, I know something will not work.

Perfect – …but, this “something”-will-not-work-and-I-do-know – trust me, just works for family, partners, and long time colleagues. But be careful…. this does not work in the work environment, unless there is a huge amount of trust…

…and why is this?

Doing my reflections and meditations on the topic I had a huge insight!!!

The reason is a problem, but also as my mother used to say, do not focus in the problem, but look which opportunity is there, and here I did find it!!!

My thoughts guided me to understand that there is a simple way to guide men (or some women who do not know) to get the best from the female co-workers, and also how the female co-workers can help their bosses to bring the best out of them.

Normally the biggest gender gap comes when there is a decision to take or a crisis to face, and decisions sometimes can not be taken on facts or figures, but at the same time, some decisions that are major DO NEED more basis to be taken or to be approved.

When someone is pressured to decide, if this someone is a woman, she is going to follow her instincts, and she will get the “feeling” of much more things in the air, the men will be able to capture facts and figures that will sum up to a more rational decision…

Lately, and believe me, I am becoming an expert in having to take decisions under pressure, in crisis, in difficult times and with as little information as one can have, and I do feel that the decisions have been very good, but I was doubting my ability to take decisions by myself, since I had always a push, a guide of someone.

Some of these days, after one of those conversations and brain stormings, and not being able to put on a paper my instincts, my gut feeling, and not being able to convince the other side, I saw that a suggestion was given based on clear facts that were right… and I had no solution but accept it, I had no argument other than instinct.

…and then this huge feeling of something getting wrong came to me, how is it possible that I can not share that I do feel that something might not be good, why do I fear telling about my instincts…

This was when I got back to a great book, “Women who run with wolves” from a psychiatrist and Jungian with her book translated to several languages and with several prizes for being able to decipher the archetype of the “wild women” – something that all women loses by getting mature and having to fit into society and the expectations organizations have from leaders (which normally are male models).


The book helped to understand that things are going well because it is the second time in my entire professional life I have a boss who can be able to take the best out of me as a woman.

The first time I experienced something like this was in Europe when I was a leader in Hungary (coincidently the author of the book is a Hungarian!) and I can not recall a more successful leadership time than this one (in my own leader life), this was the result of having the team that allowed me to be myself and made me the leader I was and I had great coaching mentorship and leadership from my boss, Dr Brocks. Coming back to this time, I recall that I had a coach, Penny Sophocleous, who helped me a lot, and each time I had a feeling an instinct of something, I used to call my boss, and I do not know if consciously or not, he used to pay HUGE attention when I asked his guidance to take a decision, which I was sure I had to make, but I did not know how to present it for approval… 🙂 Best of 2 worlds – Dr Brocks trusted me 1000%, I never felt so supported and so valued, he used to ask me many things and used to coach me until I was able to have clearly the gut feeling, the instincts into a “male” translator based on facts and a business format to present and get approval, and we did receive approval for everything and this was the same time when I used to share with my team meditations and Spiritual Quotient (Dana Zohar) learnings…

The “bias” when you go higher in leadership is clear, being a woman, you are emotional and you do get involved into the situation, because you do care for people. And then when there is a crisis and there is a pressure, nobody wants to hear what is your gut feeling, your instinct, and I can really understand it, on the other side, when there are no facts and figures, you have to follow something and here this female instinct is important.

But sad enough, some people loses the opportunity, because if there is a bias that women use to get emotionally attached, then automatically the lack of facts and figures and the presentation of instincts and gut feeling are (for them) only a proof that the vision is blurred by emotions and the woman is not being able to see straight… This is the time where I identify the wise people, the ones who can see straight and just ask you – ¨why are you thinking this, are you seeing something I am not?” and then really listens to you and starts a generative conversation try to find something better out of both perspectives. And also I can identify the ones who instead of generating further,  look the other way telling – she is not getting me into this emotional BS, if she does not get straight to the point I will challenge until she does not have more arguments, but I will not help her¨.

Here I thank once again the insight I had yesterday, because it is the second time in my life that I see that I have a male boss who somehow tries to “bear” with my instincts. For me is clear now how to go forward – it is just by sharing my instincts and being completely open telling – I do not know how to put on paper, I do not have facts, I wanted you to help me to think, and wanted you to try to see through my eyes, I am sure that the decisions will be much much better and these will be the best of 2 gender worlds!

By the end everybody wins, since male and female professionals are very complementary, the point is to find clearly how each one operates and never ever judge or start a conversation with bias, or assumptions, because judgment and pre assumptions really WILL blur the analysis and will be the obstacle for the best ideas to flow…

Diversity is indeed great, but for this greatness, we must be much more mature than we are now, since we should really leave our bias and assumptions aside and instead of criticizing emotions, straight forwardness or whatever characteristic of someone who is different from you, you just have to be open enough to understand that other perspective is a window which is opening to your brain, to your mind to be able to get to another level…

I have learned, I am happy that I have another task – be more free from judgment and help people to do so!!!

…and for sure be proud that I am a woman in all senses, with my instincts, with my emotions and passion, and above all with my love for people…



…and how to support the Venezuelans to stay, those who do not want to leave, but stay, in peace?

medita ayuantepuy

The Venezuelans that live day after day seeing relatives, friends, colleagues leaving the country, sometimes without nothing, just the I-can-not-stand-anymore feeling that bring your emotions completely out of control, are the ones under more pressure. These Venezuelans that sometimes see themselves celebrating birthdays, anniversaries through skype or facetime, usually are in the edge of being resilient or simply deciding to leave as well…

How can we help, support these Venezuelans that really want to stay, do not have plans to leave, but the environment, circumstances are bringing them to make decisions based on emotions, and based on a situation that will change, we are not sure when, but it will change…

My actual doubt is to find out where is the limit between supporting someone to stay in their country or to support them to come to the decision they are about to take based on emotions, not necessarily the “adequate” ones…

I do feel an urge to provide a good place for these people to work, I feel the urge to make it transparent for them, both the challenges, but also our role in being part of the solution rather than being the problem, and how much we are important for everything that is happening. Although I have once decided to leave my country, I also want to provide the right environment for the people to have the chance to be able to take THEIR right decision…

I see as the best solution supporting the colleagues and friends to work on their resilience, as being resilient will give most of the people the right control of emotions to identify when the decisions are made out of lack of emotional control, or after a good analysis consequence of a very good emotional control, fruit of a resilient life style…

🙂 But all in all, I try to support, and the best way I think I can do it is working hard and trying to find the opportunities in each challenge, by recognising the importance and impact each of us have on others lives! I understood that better than words is action, showing consistency between what you say and what you do. People observe you more than they listen to you, I am more of a speaker, but I do try to make it clear what I admire from Venezuela, from its peculiarities, from it uniqueness…. By just showing my love to Venezuela I hope to make some people, who do not want to leave Venezuela, have a reason to stay, not because I LOVE Venezuela and do believe in it, but because I make them remember what is their essence,  because I make them remember why they should be proud of being Venezuelans and living in Venezuela!

…the important is to have a common commitment, all of us who are in Venezuela and have chosen to stay, we should not criticise who left,  or who want to leave, neither should we “bad mouth” the country we are in – as someone told me this week – “There is a lot of good things in Venezuela to make us stay – some are like roots – under the soil, not seen or recognised, but they are strong roots. From strong roots, it is impossible to grow weak trees….”

This is Venezuela, a fertile soil, with strong roots, from these roots, strong Venezuelans are born each year, and a strong Venezuela is built!!

No matter what you are thinking, not matter what decision you make, just never forget to love Venezuela – “she” deserves all our love, and know you always can make a difference!!

Coaching · Professional · Uncategorized

Listening – can we develop this skill??? :)

For years I have been hearing that one of my development opportunities is the listening, for years I have been quite aware that this is something that would make me a better person, before it would make me a better leader.

Why then I could not improve it, why then, despite all efforts I could not work on it enough to feel myself that I, indeed, am a better person?

Today during a very productive meeting, the majority of the colleagues had identified as a major symbol of respect to others – the listening skill – still the majority feels that there is a window of opportunity here.

Coming back home, and looking to my old books, I have found the Harvard Business Review – Effective communication – specifically the first chapter “Listening to People” Ralph G. Nichols & Leonard A Stevens.  WOW!!! HOW TO IMPROVE LISTENING SKILLS, AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT – AS SIMPLE AS THIS;

We learn how to read, but we do not learn how to listen, not in schools… and yet, this is the most important way to learn, to teach and to make yourself a good leader. LISTENING IS A SKILL THAT ONE CAN BE TAUGHT.

2 basics for listening improvement:

1) Understand the factors that affects your listening

2) Build the experience to create the habits of good listening

🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂

1) The factors that affects your listening

1.1) Misuse of the “spare” thinking time while we listen

Our brain has capacity to process around 200 – 300 words per minute while thinking; the average rate of speech is around 125 words per minute.

While one talks 125 words per minute, the listener processes these 125 words and have a space of around other 100 to 200 words more to think…. If you are talking to your boss or to your husband, normally you are using this space to prepare what you want to talk next, mostly trying to deliver an idea, sometimes making you to interrupt at the moment you think that you should comment…

A good listener fills this time differently…

Well, we already know now that we must fill this space wiser… Be a better listener lesson 1 – use correctly the spare thinking space of your mind!

…creating habits to fill the spare space of our mind;

I. The listener tries to think ahead of the talker, trying to have the anticipation of what the conclusion would be, but at the talkers point of view – assure that has understood correctly!

II. Weighting the evidence the talker is using – check how the talker is using the evidence to support the points being made

III. Uses the spare space to to review and mentally summarizes the points of the talk

IV. Pays attention to the non verbal language, face, body language and try to see if there are more than the words, to be able to ask the right questions to get the talkers message fully, even what he/she is not telling

1.2. Listening to facts instead of ideas – another factor of distraction

Normally the talker wants to transmit an idea, not facts, the facts are just a road which helps to reach the final destination. The good listener can rebuild the facts, use other facts to confirm the idea that the talker is trying to deliver. 

This is probably the easier listening skills to be learnt!

1.3. Emotional Filters – other factor of “distraction:

Listening ability is affected, in different degrees and different ways, by our emotions. We listen easily to what we believe and what we like to hear at the way that we reject, whatever is against what we believe…

A good listener identifies these moments and behave differently from the “first reaction”… … and just listen the talker…

….how to do this, hoe to develop this skill?

I. Withhold evaluation;

 This is one of the most important principles of learning. It requires self-control. While listening, the main objective should be to comprehend each point made by the talker. Judgments and decisions should be reserved until after the talker has finished.

II. Hunting evidence, all of them…

When we listen, it is human to go on a militant search for evidence which proves us right in what we believe. If we made our minds to seek out the ideas that might prove us wrong, as well as those that might prove us right, we are less in danger of missing what people have to say…


🙂 Finally I have realized that the first time this article was published was 1957… How such an “old” teaching can be so helpful and truth even now…

This is millennium knowledge, meaning that this is something that we should have known…  Something I should have worked on, at least to “payback the wonderful listener my husband is… …and now I will do for my whole family – the private one and the professional one!


Well, this is my individual development challenge and what I am going to focus the next period – those who are close are welcome to support me and give me your feed back – all for a better world, made of better people, starting by myself!!!