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Women in business: preparing the next generation – a father’s perspective

Article written by Pieter Scholtz (ActionCOACH – Country Partner)

The month of August sees us celebrating Women’s Month and it is in this context that I want to provide some focus on the important role that women play in the business world and society.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Africa now has the highest growth in businesses started and run by women. One does not have to go far to find many examples of successful women in business and society to understand the important role that they play. 

In trying to understand some of the challenges that women in business face I came across this quote from Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit and now serial entrepreneur, which I think epitomizes what it takes to be successful in business in general, let alone for women in business. 

“I’ve never thought of myself as a female engineer, or founder, or a woman in tech. I just think of myself as someone who’s passionate.” ― Leah Busque

Many people reading this article will be inclined to ask the following:

“What do you, a white male (proudly so), know about the challenges women face in business?”

It is for this reason that I have chosen to focus our attention on preparing the next generation of women (our daughters) for the roles that they will need to play in society. 

As a father of three bright, talented and passionate daughters, the questions that I often think about are the following:

  1. Have I prepared my daughters for the very important roles that they will need to play in society?
  2. Have I prepared them to be independent thinkers, yet understand their source of power?
  3. Have I prepared them to be financially literate so that they can deal with the transfer of wealth that will take place once I am not around anymore? Or for that matter, the generation and preservation of their own wealth?
  4. Have I prepared them to steward their God-given talents and skills and to use these to contribute to society once they enter the big world? 
  5. How have I prepared them for servanthood and not self-centeredness? 

To this extent, I want to focus on seven key points.

There may be many more, but for the purposes of this article, I will focus on these points.

Diversity versus equality

It is important for us to understand the difference between diversity and equality. It is a well-known fact that building diverse workplaces have many benefits, be it differing talents, skills, and insights that foster better decision making etc. When we deal with equality though, we need to recognize that each person entering the workplace is uniquely created and no two people are in fact the same. Put seven people next to each other and ask them to run a 100m race and you will quickly find that some are better suited to succeed than others. And so it is with many other aspects of the world. The only place where equality is relevant is equality before the law. Thus, in preparing my daughters for their role in society, it is important for them to identify, develop and build on their uniqueness, their talents and skills so that they can contribute effectively to the business world and society.

The world does not owe you anything.

Financial freedom

One of the best legacies we can leave the next generation is preparing them to understand how they are going to deal with the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.

Personally, the lessons I learned in creating financial security, came very late in my career. Our role is to ensure that we educate our daughters to be financially literate, to understand the difference between true wealth and riches, so that they can effectively generate and preserve the wealth that they have acquired or built and be in a position to build on that generationally.

Passionately pursuing God-given talents

As referenced in the quote from Leah Busque above, passion is a prerequisite for anything that you set out to build, develop or achieve in life. I have yet to find someone, who has done this without passion. Thus as a father, helping my daughters identify what their purpose, why or passion is, and then providing them with the opportunity as best as I can, is critical to preparing them for their roles in business or society

Your support network

To be successful in business and society requires you to build a strong network of like-minded people who share your passion and value system. A network where you can share your fears, obtain new insights, and be vulnerable in a safe space, in order to navigate the challenges that life throws at you. Growth only happens in communities. My lesson to my daughters has been this. Surround yourself with people that will help you grow into what you have been called to do. Build on these relationships, be they at work, your profession, your hobbies, your church, or the community where you live. You never know when you are going to rely on this network. The reverse is also relevant.

On-going personal development and growth.

Sustainable success requires you to recognize that life is a continual journey of self-development and growth. Jim Rohn’s famous quote: “Where you will be in fiveyears’ time will depend on the books you read and the people you associate with” is so relevant. Life will throw many curved balls or obstacles at you – see these as growth opportunities. Denis Peacocke, author, strategist, and lecturer stated it perfectly when he said: “Power is guarded by problems”.

Our demonstrated ability to deal with the challenges or problems that we are facing today will determine to what extent we will be able to grow and be able to deal with more complex problems in the future. Be open to facing the challenges, and learn from them and that way you will be able to grow and deal with bigger opportunities and challenges that they bring

Your value system

I was recently asked to write down what my personal values were and essentially what those of my family were.

As I completed this exercise, it struck me that I had never discussed these formally with my family and more importantly my daughters. They were certainly implied. Big mistake.

In business, we often make the point of displaying your company values, discussing them, ensuring that they are understood, and serving as a guideline to our decision-making. Why would that be any different in my family? Therefore, ensure that you are properly documenting your family values, discuss them frequently over dinner and use them in decision-making for the family. The most important legacy that you can leave for your family is your values. They become the yardstick for the whole family to use in making business, relationships, financial, and any other key decisions in life.

Building strong relationships

When you think about business and leadership at its most basic level – it is about relationships. Know who you are, understand what it takes to build lasting relationships, and surround yourself with people that are committed to you. Building strong relationships requires you to have a servant’s heart and to move away from the self-centeredness that has become so ingrained into modern society. 

In conclusion, in a largely fatherless society, that has contributed to many of the societal ills that we are facing globally, I ask you the following question?
“How are you preparing your sons and daughters to deal with diversity, inclusion, relationships, values, wealth, identifying their purpose and servanthood to society?”

Ask not – what does society owe me, rather ask, how can I serve society with a passion to make it a better place? 

Be intentional about preparing the next generation of leaders, including your daughters.

ActionCOACH is a proud Partner of the NSBC

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