Let me tell you three personal stories. They’re all true, and took place over the last fifteen years. But first, let me share another story, which I recently heard.
A German mother was wondering why her son was crying. He told her, that he was upset, because he couldn’t be president. She asked wondering, why he felt like this? He answered:
To become president, you have to be a girl!
Throughout his whole life, the head of his country has been a woman, Angela Merkel. I don’t know if this story is true or not. But it shows the importance of different role models. Fortunately, millions of German girls know that gender is not a hindrance.
Back to my three stories. They are from the world of sports.
A Story From The Past!
More than 15 years ago, a talented, young snowboarder returned to Norway from the US. She decided not to follow her career as an athlete, but she wanted to be a part of the snowboard community. Thanks to an open recruitment membership at the national snowboard association, she found her way into organized sports. Her competence was needed, and soon she became an employee. She continued her snowboard career, but in a new field.
At the same time, another young snowboarder (me ;)) had left the university. I was picked up by the same open recruitment membership. I had no plans to compete in snowboarding, but I wanted to be a part of the social and creative community. My background from finance was also needed, and soon I became a board member.
Eventually, the two women, Dagfrid Forberg and I, met. We became a powerful leader duo, who went on tough, but fun journey. We didn’t plan to become leaders, but one thing followed another. For more than ten years, we followed our strong inner motivation. Our mission was to improve the conditions for every snowboarder to have fun on the snowboard. This involved a lot of work, including fighting the IOC and the FIS. Well, anyone can imagine, what a tough (and impossible?) job that was! 😉
Last Saturday, the prime minister of Norway Erna Solberg and super star snowboarder Ståle Sandbech handed out the snowboarders award of honor to Dagfrid and me. What a party! What a night!
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A Story From The Present!
Years went. One day, my dear friend and CEO of the snowboard association, Dagfrid, told me, that she planned to leave. It would be crazy difficult to fill her shoes. For a year, we had been discussing a possible successor. The association had several talented people in the staff, both men and women.
One young woman, Lisa Mari Watson, stood out as a crown princess. But we weren’t sure. Did she have enough experience? After a long and thorough hiring process, we had two choices. The highly experienced CEO around 50 or our more than 20 years younger crown princess.
We decided to trust our internal candidate’s potential and not count the numbers of years of experience. We hired Lisa. And she blossomed, took on the CEO position and grew into it perfectly!
A Story From The Future!
Back to last Saturday’s Snowboard Awards. I met so many great people and had a lot of fun :). On specific conversation, still gives me an extra big smile. I had a talk with a young woman. I’ve known her for some years. She is always enthusiastic with a strong inner motivation for the development of snowboarding.
She shared one of her goals – One day, I want to be the president!
How about that! I cheer for her and I´m sure that one day she will reach her goal. And she knows that anyone, no matter gender can become president. Hopefully, I have contributed to her motivation for setting this goal.
I hope more women dare to express their to express their hairy goals out load! And very important, I believe that we, «old men and women», have a duty to inspire and mentor young people with ambitions.
Three Stories, Three Messages!
First, I must repeat that I strongly believe that diversity in top leader positions is important. Diversity in leadership positions, mirroring staff and members/customers, is important to take the right strategic and operational decisions. This is simply how you survive and keep up with the society! And by diversity, I think about gender, age and ethnicity.
My three stories from over 15 years, made me think of three things:
- Diversity in top management creates different real role models that will inspire a diverse group of young people to pursue a leadership career.
- Identify internal leadership talents early, and work actively with leadership development. When hiring the next CXO, evaluate what he or she will become, not only what the candidate have done!
- A low-threshold and flexible recruitment to organized sport, will attract talents to leadership and technical positions!
Thanks for reading my Saturday reflections!
Have a great October weekend! Let’s hope it will start snowing soon! And want to get back on my board, with my favorite girls! <3