Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency
General Manager, Representative Director of The Peninsula Tokyo
Chief Representative Officer, World Economic Forum Japan
Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
President and CEO, GE Japan
What great tips will these current leaders share? While individual leadership styles vary, all great leaders have one thing in common; they adapt to the times. Managing multiple nationalities, genders and customs, as well as IT advances, today’s great leaders show“ inclusiveness” in their leadership. This roundtable will share and discuss successful leadership tips and will find issues to address in the future.
Makiko Eda, the newly appointed Chief Representative Officer of World Economic Forum's Japan office, leads this panel into a lively discussion on inclusive leadership. A leader herself, she shares the podium with three other impressive female leaders; Eriko Asai, GE Japan's President and CEO; Sonja Vodusek, General Manager and Representative Director of The Peninsula Tokyo, and Libby Lyons, the Director of the Australian Government's Workforce Gender Equality Agency. Ms. Eda asks them to share a brief history of their work experience and which paths they have taken to get where they are today.
What did all three panelists have in common? They have all lived and worked around the world; to them, diversity is the norm. As women they have faced the struggles of climbing the ladder in male-dominated industries. Yet the three women have diverse viewpoints when it comes to leadership styles and it made for a great conversation.
For Ms. Vodusek, the first ever female GM of a luxury hotel in Japan, the greatest challenge was creating a community out of a truly diverse team. She shared her experience with her rise through the hospitality ranks, giving tips and strategies on how to effectively communicate and get everyone involved to create vision and goal. Ms. Asai said her greatest challenge is striking the balance between fairness and prioritization :“ If you want to please everyone, you're not going to please anyone.” Ms. Lyons shared a much more direct approach, sharing stories of her experience with middle managers and employees. Ms. Asai added that one key trait for a leader is the ability to delegate.
Ms. Eda guided the conversation to the highs and lows of being a powerful female role model. Ms. Asai shared her experience of learning she would be named the next CEO of GE Japan. She offered clear advice for any upcoming leader when being promoted. Ms. Eda chimed in to say that while being a leader can become lonely, it does not have to be. Ms. Vodusek agreed wholeheartedly on this matter, stating,“ I don't have time to be lonely; I'm too busy!” For Ms. Lyons, it is important to accept failure as part of the journey, not an end to it. More than that, Ms. Lyons said,“ We have to educate our young women that a man is not a retirement plan.”
The Q&A session was just as engaging as the panel, with many questions for these inspiring leaders. Through her agency's expert data, Ms. Lyons enlightened the audience with a recipe of 10 qualities that the most inclusive companies in Australia had in common. Several how-to questions about reaching the top were asked, to which Ms. Vodusek inspired the participants with“ Be bold, have courage, and ask. If you don't ask you don't get.” Concerning how Japanese culture can begin to promote inclusivity, Ms. Vodusek referred to the 3 Q's, and how with this strategy her team has managed to create a balanced multinational workforce. Ms. Asai pointed out the challenges of Japanese culture, and what can be done to begin the path of progress, stating that her goal is to change the industry, not just the company.