About Next Role Models: Why the Way We Do Business has to Change
Naomi Ryland and Lisa Jaspers share their view on leadership, role models and how our way of doing business has to change in the future in the latest episode of the Next Visions Podcast by Porsche in collaboration with the House of Beautiful Business.
In the future, perhaps many people will look back with some disbelief at how few women were in leadership positions in 2020. Quite similar to how we look back today to the time when women were not allowed to vote. The Women in the Workplace Study by McKinsey revealed that 2020 was the sixth year in a row, women continued to lose ground at the first step up to manager in corporate America. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted. An OECD report found that 23 percent less funding goes towards female-owned start-ups and that they are 30 percent less likely to have a positive exit compared to male-owned businesses.
However, the change has already begun — and it goes far beyond gender. After all, the question is not only about the gender of future executives — but also about their leadership style, how they intend to reinvent and transform businesses and the economy as a whole.
Naomi and Lisa: Friends and founders of two of Germany’s most famous social enterprises
In the latest episode of Season 2 of the Next Visions podcast, the hosts Christian Knörle, head of Company Building at Forward31 by Porsche Digital, and Tim Leberecht, co-founder and co-CEO of The Business Romantic Society, and the co-curator of the House of Beautiful Business, welcome two women, who have not only spoken to many inspiring female leaders and published their thoughts in their book „Starting A Revolution“ — but have also recognized for themselves what they want to change: Naomi Ryland and Lisa Jaspers.
Naomi and Lisa’s friendship began 10 years ago when they met because they both worked for Oxfam, one of the largest humanitarian and development organizations in the world. Inspired by various challenges facing the non-profit world, they founded two of Germany’s most famous social enterprises: tbd* and Folkdays.
Looking for business advice they turned to progressive female founders
Since founding their companies, Naomi and Lisa have been on the lookout for meaningful business advice. Advice that helps to build great companies but that also reflects the challenges of our times: climate change, deeply divided societies, growing inequality, and a disillusioned and burnt-out workforce. Hardly any of the advice they heard from the startup world, and read in business books, seemed up to the challenge. Most business advice seemed to be built on the paradigms of ‘growth at all costs’, competition and pressure. It felt outdated.
“As a female entrepreneur, you always made to feel like you’re not doing things right.” — Naomi Ryland
So, they went on the lookout for new ideas and new role models, choosing to focus on a group of people who have been previously underrepresented in business (literature): women.
„New work needs inner work“
Over the last year, Naomi and Lisa have interviewed some of the most progressive female founders in the world including Dame Stephanie Shirley, Catherine Mahugu and Joana Breidenbach. What they learned has radically changed how they run their own businesses. „You should not accept anything that smells like business as usual or wisdom“, says Lisa. „Question everything that has to do with business as usual.“ And Naomi adds: „More and more people are kind of seeing that the systems that we’re living in at the moment aren’t necessarily the ones that we want to hold onto.“
So, what are their takeaways from the interviews and what do they implement in their leadership styles? „New work needs inner work“, says Lisa. „The most important step was to actually be yourself at work, to be exactly who you are; who you want to be.“ That means, also sharing fears with colleagues — quite a shift from the antique leadership roles from the 20th century.
“If you’re not sharing your fears as a boss, other people won’t as well.” Lisa Jaspers
Happiness over profit
A shift that allows for a new power structure inside companies, as Naomi tells. Her company is transitioning from a hierarchical company to a self-organised company. Everybody is involved in decisions, shares the pressure and responsibility. A whole new way to organize business, but a way that could make many people much happier and gives them ownership — feelings that are much more rewarding for Naomi and Lisa than profit or growth. Naomi says: „To get to a place where you really feel completely fulfilled and happy with your work is something I think everybody aspires to.“
In the future, who knows, perhaps not only will there be more women in management positions — but women and men will establish a completely new management style, which founders like Naomi and Lisa are already exemplifying today. Perhaps people will be puzzled that status or profit was once more important than happiness.
To learn more about the story of Naomi and Lisa and their vision of the future tune in to the full episode. You can listen and subscribe to the Next Visions Podcast on all common audio platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, and Google Podcast.
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