I was invited by Liberty Investments to speak to the ladies in their Cape Town office this woman's month and keeping with my 2017 theme of EQ (Emotional Maturity), my talk went as follows:

I took a look at the brief rationale:

Liberty and Equality, as both a company and concept are not separate ideas. They are interdependent. It is not an either/or situation.  Him or Her. We are not in competition with each other. We are one and the same. My freedom and equality are dependent on yours. These concepts are found in the philosophies of Nelson Mandela as much as the foundations of Ubuntu.

That is why we believe, We are only as strong as the company we keep.


And then I wish to personally add that:

at the heart of an organization and its people ability to recognize and embody the importance of Equality and Liberty is maturity and emotional intelligence – it is those that recognize this that will lead.

I remember in the early stages of my husband and I’s marriage, whilst we were still figuring each other out there would be things we would clash on, but when principles and values were aligned there would be that aha! Moment – that moment you felt like he/she gets it. That although other stuff might be the fluff and foam on a cappuccino, that could be figure out-able… but if that alignment wasn’t there and if we were not able to bring each other into alignment for a common goal – we could possibly be doomed!


How many of you left your previous jobs before joining Liberty – not because of the work or the pay but because of your boss…

And how many of you are about to leave this wonderful organisation because of your boss? (You don’t have to answer this one – Tease question)

The reality is a happy employee is a productive employee or a happy wife is a happy home as my husband would say: When we feel great we do great. The workplace is notorious for either being a happy place or a hell hole.

What makes it a happy place. YOU, not your boss, not your colleagues, but YOU! Fortunately, or unfortunately, you are not in a political party and don’t get to choose your boss, so that means if you have a horrible boss, you are effectively in a hell hole. Well, guess what, not necessarily! Emotional intelligence is the ability to turn horrible people into nice people. Emotional intelligence is the ability to want to strangle a colleague, but give them a hug instead.

I know you’re probably thinking, half your colleagues or your boss are still alive because murder is a crime.

Emotional intelligence is the art of filtering through the noise. It’s the art of being conscious about what comes out of your mouth or what goes into your heart.

It is being right, but not making the next person feel wrong. It is about hearing the message and not just the words. It is about giving the benefit of the doubt even you don’t get it. It is about being gracious. It is not needing your colleague to change in order for you to embrace them. It is embracing people the way they are without enforcing your ideal vision or perception of ‘perfection’ or on par behavior.

Don’t you feel like I have just described a woman or perhaps a mother?

I have basically touched on:

  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Humility
  • Vulnerability
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility

[For those who would love to further delve into these theses and the feminine values, please go out and get a book called The Athena Doctrine].

I don’t know about you, but these qualities are definitely not a sign of weakness, but strength. Femininity should be operating system for 21st century thinking.

Contrary to popular beliefs, strength is not limited to hard and harsh, but gentle too. We are strong too. So, the association of strength only to masculinity and male figures is misguided. It also limits men’s ability to see how feminine values can contribute to more effective leadership. It takes strength to be vulnerable and humble.

So, imagine if we (men and women) applied these values in the workplace. Business in the 21st century would be completely transformed.

Empathy – “I’m sorry you are going through that; how might I be able to help you?” It is putting yourself in the shoes of a co-worker who has to take 3 taxis to work daily. It is understanding when they are late on a couple of days – and not emphasizing that ‘you’re late’. Empathy is when you co-worker gets that call at 11am that their child is unwell and there is a deadline looming. Are you empathetic enough to pick up the task and get going? Or do you remind her of the looming task?

Patience – Listening & asking questions in a constructive manner that does not insult. Sometimes patience can turn a problem into a learning experience and grow a team. You would understand how people think differently to you.

“A report is delegated to an employee and they submit the report and it is less than satisfactory. Patience in play would be to establish what the steps that were taken to pull this report together were as well as what the thought process was. The employee would need to return and amend the report until the reports meet the standard. Patience for each revert and amendment is both a learning experience for the employee and the line manager to understand the thought process of the employee and how to better manage her.”

Humility – Putting others first and not taking your word as final. Admit that you could be wrong… This can open doors of learning from others on your team and creating open opportunities for teaching as well.

Taking criticism well without playing victim… no but or if… or even althoughs. Accept and craft a way forward.

Vulnerability – Accepting that you don’t know it all, owning your mistakes, owning your emotions, accepting uncertainty and calls for collaborative ways to solves issues and situations – not act tough. Not be hard.

I particularly love how Michelle Obama handles a lot of her interviews with vulnerability; how she speaks on her family and background, on her childhood and role models, on being bullied, on being hurt. She has an approach that speaks to the fact that even leaders can show vulnerability as a proof of strength. It is an understated confidence where the strongest people lay their emotions bare. Leaders like herself make you want to roll up your sleeves and experience life with a little less expectation from others but with a view to own our mistakes and situations.

Collaboration – I love the use of the description “collaboration is team work taken to a higher level”. Collaborations allows for vision sharing, pushes innovation forward and allows for everyone to stay motivated and goal focused.

Having worked at a global creative agency, I absolutely enjoyed the global collaboration on pitches and presentations. The ability to reach out and get a global and at times a “5 years ahead of SA” perspective on what global trends are. This pushed us to share visions and innovate for the benefit of our clients. When you are constantly on your toes and innovating, you are motivated daily to find and seek more information and chase bigger goals.

Flexibility – every employee should be adaptable, be willing to learn – in the current economy we are in – roles are changing and you have to learn to manage yourself through the changes rather than to try and stop the changes. Know the team around and understand who has what strength and balance that out with yours.

Embrace diversity – we come from different cultures, background and upbringing. EQ is accepting of all differences and does not impose views. We are better and balanced when we work together in synergy, not against each other.

I DO think gender balances can be achieved when we understand that a partnership between men and women is needed.

Men and women who share a common vision as well as common values with a commitment for maximizing each other’s talents and creating spaces for growth through empowerment.