Entrepreneur. Educator. Influencer.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

How fast is fast enough?

The last couple of weeks have been full of emotions: excitement, hope, surprise, joy, envy, pride, sadness, anxiety, confusion, happiness, disappointments, anger, amusement ... Scientists have identified 27 distinct types of emotions and probably a high number of them have been experienced in CSV since the election day of the new president of the party, Frank Engel.

If we remember that the party has 10.000 members and that more than 650 people were present on the election day, it's only normal that there was a wide range of emotions before, during and after the congress. 

Especially after the congress, I must say. RTL has been instrumental in putting on their first page some of the emotions experienced by people who were either a candidate in the elections, a family member or someone who wanted to become a candidate in the upcoming European  elections.

I joined CSV in 2016 after 2 years as president of the Luxembourgish branch of the Romanian party PNL (National Liberal Party, part of the European Popular Party), who gave the current Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, and also member of the International Board for the Romanian Diaspora of the party. I became a candidate in the local elections in 2017 in the City of Luxembourg and experienced my first political campaign. These are memories that I cherish very much. I met extraordinary people and discovered many positive things about myself in the process. I organized some fantastic and innovative events, including an Electoral Speed Dating, which was met with a lot of enthusiasm, especially from people working for the European institutions. 

After the 2018 elections, CSV remained for the second time in the opposition. This was at last the moment that the leadership of the party has realized that a renewal of the party has become necessary. Many of you will probably say "It was about time", and indeed you would be right. All the sections of the party have organized elections in November and December 2018 and none of the presidents in function stood up for reelection. I am very pleased and proud because I was elected as a member of the Committee of the Center section of CSF (the women section), a week later a member of the National Committee of CSF and, another 10 days later, president of CSV International, the section allowing non Luxembourgish to become active members in the party before they would speak Luxembourgish or would acquire the nationality. In addition, I became a member of the National Committee of the party, a delegate for the Center Circumscription and a member of the National Council. 

Going back to the distinct types of human emotions that have been experienced since Mr. Engel has been elected president of the party, they prompted some people to criticize CSV for not truly allowing the "Renouveau". I look however around me and I see many new faces, many young people and many people who are now discovering politics. I particularly think about the National Committee of CSV International (which has 800 members, either non Luxembourgish or having a double citizenship). More than 75% of our members are new in politics, their position in the National Committee is their first ever in a political party in Luxembourg and they are enjoying the new experience. We can bring into politics our different experience from different fields of expertise, many of us from the business world, as managers, entrepreneurs or IT consultants. There are (only) three months since we run the international section. We started to reconnect and participate regularly in the events of the different nationality-based communities in the country. Our team won the quiz organized by Maison des associations and the trip to Strasbourg at the European Parliament. We launched a new concept "Meet & Greet our deputies" at the Festival of cultures and immigration which attracted quite an impressive number of people. In the context of the International Women's Day, we decided to honor some of the women of CSV who, over the years, were active in making sure that parity is respected and applied in all decision making organs of the party;  we organized an opera concert which attracted more than two hundred thirty guests. On the 9th of April we are organizing a conference debate on the topic of the European nationality with Erna Hennicot Schoepges, my political mentor. 

I look at our committee's picture with joy, pride and excitement: if this is not part of the "renouveau" of the party, then I guess I don't know what "renouveau" is.


Wednesday 20 March 2019

Female leadership, back to the basics (pt.4)

Last week, we looked at whether some traits are more important than others in becoming and being a leader. In this context, I promised that I will share with you a list of recommendations distilled from my own experiences.
I also took into consideration suggestions received from the women that I had interviewed for my books. These are successful women in leadership positions in different fields of activity from Luxembourg and the Greater Region.
You will find below the first five pieces of advice which are worthy of your attention if you wish to enhance your visibility and be appointed to leadership positions. Of course, some advice will resonate more with you and some less. It is important to note that while writing these pieces of advice I thought specifically about our challenges as women, our needs and leadership experiences, all the time taking into account the stories that I had heard during these last fifteen years. In addition, I believe that most (if not all) of this advice applies to men, too.
  1. 1. Choose your own unique road through life and make a difference to the world.
Try to become not a man of success but rather to become a man of value. (Albert Einstein)
My first advice is to focus on finding out how you can make a difference in your life, your company, your family and friends’ lives, instead of just chasing one or another position within your organisation. Commit yourself to living a life that makes a real contribution - a meaningful life. Be ready to make choices, and take ownership of your choices and desires, because whether or not you succeed in your career and in your life depends on you.
Take for instance, Monica Jonsson, who decided back in 2002 to leave behind a very successful twenty-year corporate career working in Sweden, Hong Kong and Luxembourg. She chose instead to be a pioneer and create the first coaching company in Luxembourg, CoachDynamix. Why? Because she wanted to make a real difference on a human level, and not only chase after quarterly revenue targets. Nowadays, she feels blessed to have a profession that she really loves doing and that gives her a sense of purpose, joy and fulfillment. This is also what Stephen R. Covey recommends in “The 8thHabit. From Effectiveness to Greatness”, when he talks about two possible roads in life: one to mediocrity and one to greatness and meaning, pointing out that each and every one of us can choose which road in life to take: starting by choosing between having a good day or having a great one.
  1. 2. Find what makes you happy.
The importance of introspection. Analyse what you want, what your ambitions are and what makes you happy. “Happiness is found through who we are and not by what we do or what we have.” Therefore, it is important as a woman to explore who you are and what you feel passionate about, which in turn will allow you to find out what makes you happy. Many women admit that they spend the majority of their lives trying to make those around them happy: children, parents, partners, colleagues, and so on. However, ensuring the happiness of those around you is also linked to your own happiness. Therefore, you need to make yourself happy first, and put yourself first in life without being constrained by feelings of guilt. Some women dream about high responsibility jobs, making a lot of money, having power and prestige, being respected and having opportunities to control budgets and resources, as well as helping others grow. Other women dream about more free time for themselves and/or their families and are ready to sacrifice opportunities for advancement or trade them in the short-term. An old Romanian proverb puts it in a very simple way: “Think twice of what you ask God for. He might give it to you…”
Indeed, understanding and accepting yourself will help you plan your future the way you want and help you feel happier with your choices. When Dr. Friedman teaches his Total Leadership concept he recommends that you start by thinking and writing about your core values, your leadership vision, and the current alignment of your actions and values. He suggests that you talk to peer coaches to get the whole picture about who you truly are. “Why peer coaches? Because an outside perspective provides a sounding board for your ideas and your challenges. It gives you a fresh way to see the possibilities for innovation and helps hold you accountable to your commitments.”
  1. 3. Find your place.
To be effective in an organisation, your values must be compatible with the organisation’s values, and there should be an environment in which you feel you make a contribution; you are not just a number, but you truly contribute to a higher purpose. Find your place in your company, be part of a team that trusts you, and have a manager who believes in you. It is important to work under and with people who have strong professional ethics and are not manipulative, e.g. blocking your career progress in order to take all the credit for themselves. If you find yourself in this position and you don’t feel comfortable in your team, department and/or organisation, don’t hesitate too long in searching for new opportunities, either internally or with other companies. I have talked to numerous women, especially in the financial sector who, despite their efforts in doing their jobs very well and having the necessary skills to be promoted, felt they were stuck in the same functions for years with no real chance of being promoted to leadership positions.
We do have choices in our lives and in our careers, but we also have to find the courage to make changes and be ready to take ownership of our decisions. “Control your destiny, or someone else will”, as Jack Welsh said – or as the late Edmond Israel liked to quote “I cannot predict the future, but I can create it.”
  1. 4. Lifelong learning.
“Nosce te ipsum” – This is something taught in school in Romania as part of our mandatory Latin courses and translates simply as: know yourself. It is important for us holistically, and not just in our working lives. This one statement encourages us to think about and identify our strengths and areas for improvement. Of course, as well as spending time capitalising on your strengths, don’t forget to spend some time focusing on improving your weaknesses. I try to teach this to my marketing students in Germany and used to also ask my interns to complete a SWOT analysis of themselves. This was usually not an easy exercise for most of them as they had difficulties seeing their strengths and areas for improvement.
Nobody is perfect, but if you manage to identify your strengths and use them in your personal development, you have many more chances to succeed in life than if you focus on your weaknesses – which cannot by their nature build performances and will only serve as excuses not to succeed. Indeed, “Your life only gets better when you get better.” (Brian Tracy), so work on improving your strengths as well as filling in the gaps in your knowledge by acquiring new skills. Leading people or organisations requires not only technical knowledge but also soft skills such as relationship building and effective communication.
If you find it difficult to identify or confirm your strengths and weaknesses, American psychologist and Harvard professor Will Schutz, suggests in his book “The Human Element” that you ask your friends and colleagues. You might be surprised to discover skills that you didn’t think of being leadership related, or to find out that what you thought of as being a weakness is actually considered a strength by people who know you. Additionally, pay close attention to how you use your strengths, because if overused they could potentially become weaknesses.
Knowing yourself also involves becoming aware of the way you perform best – are you a reader or a listener? How do you learn? Do you learn by writing? By talking? By doing? Do you make connections with people easily or do you let them approach you first? Do you work better alone or in a team? Do you work better as a subordinate or as a decision maker? Do you perform well under stress or do you need a highly structured and predictable environment? Do you work best in a big organisation or in a small one?  These are all questions to be given detailed thought.
What is certain is that if you wish to become a leader, you will need to commit to lifelong learning! You need to follow conferences and seminars in your professional field, and attend personal development and networking events - even if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. There is always something new to learn, and keeping your mind open to new knowledge will enable you to be more competitive. You also need to stay informed about what’s going on in the world – what events and new technologies might affect your company, the market place, and your customers’ behaviours - primarily because you need to anticipate change. Therefore, you need to read magazines and professional journals and talk to people from other fields about the changes occurring in the market and in the world (yes, networking might actually help you improve yourself).

  • 5. Authenticity
  • Live and act according to your values, preferences and needs. This is the route to a truly authentic life, compared with acting just to please others, or saying what you think or know that others would like to hear. Being authentic also implies being real and open in your relationships, and this is also true about the way you communicate. There are many people who we instinctively identify as “false”, mainly because they spend too much time acting and use too many words with little or no substance.
    Try to find the management and leadership style which corresponds to your personality and your core values without trying to copy your superior or your mentor. Learning from them is usually extremely helpful, but try not to be someone else.  Not only will you fail to convince other people (within the company and externally), but also your style will not be successful, efficient or sustainable if it doesn’t really reflect who you are. Authentic people are generally more balanced, secure and self-confident and tend to be trusted more because they are seen to care and listen. Being authentic also means sharing what you stand for, and accepting yourself the way you really are without putting on a mask to please your superiors.
    When the issue of leadership styles is raised, men are more likely than women to describe themselves in ways some management experts refer to as “transactional” leadership i.e. job performance is viewed as a series of transactions with subordinates. So, when it comes to the style of leadership, many men recognise that their power is taken from their high position and formal authority in a traditional command-and-control style. Women are more likely than men to use transformational leadership: motivating others by transforming their self-interest into the goals of the organisation, Women, use power based around charisma, work record, and contacts (personal power) as opposed to the male approach centred on organisational position, title, and the ability to reward and punish (structural power), thus the differences between approaches to leadership are apparent. In the words of a female leader: “Throughout my career in business I have seen women practicing a masculine leadership style that focuses on authority derived from their position, and relies on rewards and punishment in order for them to climb up the career ladder.” Instead of being admired for their adjustment to an alpha male environment, most of these women were perceived as emotional, difficult to work with or for, and too aggressive. What one gender sees as a strength may be perceived by the other as a weakness, hence the need to “be yourself”.
    The International Women’s Forum Survey of Men and Women Leaders found that most men and women describe themselves as having an equal mix of traits that are considered “feminine” (being excitable, gentle, emotional, submissive, sentimental, understanding, compassionate, sensitive, dependent), “masculine” (dominant, aggressive, tough, assertive, autocratic, analytical, competitive, independent) and “gender-neutral” (adaptable, tactful, sincere, conscientious, reliable, predictable, systematic, efficient). However, a study of Fortune 1000 female executives by Catalyst found some more than 10 years ago that 96% of them rated as critical, or fairly important, that they develop “a style with which male managers are comfortable.”
    This is important because there is no need to reject the feminine side anymore, but fully accept it and embrace it. The French feminist Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her book “The Second Sex” in 1949 that “One is not born, but rather one becomes a woman.” Her objective in writing the book was most likely to defend the feminine sex by claiming that men and women are born the same way and that our more masculine side was taken away from us by societal forces. However, we now know for sure, and have substantial research to prove the fact, that men and women are born neurologically different.  Aside from gender-related strengths, many characteristics of leaders such as IQ and energy seem to come naturally when we are born, while we learn leadership skills (especially self-confidence), at home and at school, in the academic world and through sport. “And you learn other things at work through interactive experience, trying something, getting it wrong and learning from it, or getting it right and gaining the self-confidence to do it again, only better”, as Jack Welsh was noting in his book “Winning”. In addition, neurologists have shown how men operate using mostly the left side of their brain; the analytical sphere, while women are able to switch between both sides; analytical and emotional, more easily than men.
    It is important to have the courage to be yourself, and to think outside the box, because the key to success often lies in the way you look at and deal with a certain situation. Following less traveled roads offers generally unsought possibilities and solutions. In order to leverage your strengths on your own personal journey to success, you will need to fight stereotypes about the leadership styles of women and men. Indeed, findings show that there is a certain resistance to women’s leadership, mainly a set of “widely shared conscious and unconscious mental associations about women, men, and leaders. In the language of psychologists, the clash is between two sets of associations: communal and agentic. Women are associated with communal qualities… being especially affectionate, helpful, friendly, kind, and sympathetic, along with being viewed as interpersonally sensitive, gentle, and soft-spoken. By contrast, men are associated with agentic qualities, which convey assertion and control. These include being especially aggressive, ambitious, dominant, self-confident, forceful, self-reliant and individualistic.” This difference of perception will make people call dominant women “control freaks” while men would be called “passionate”. Being aware of these stereotypes does not take away the danger of misconception; therefore, don’t be afraid of being yourself or of any obstacles to success, as they will make you stronger just as much as they will challenge you.
    The conclusion of today’s article is from a great Harvard Business Review article of Peter Bregman entitled “Want to keep your job? Stop trying to fit in.” which is extremely strong, clear and positive: “Face it: You’re different. And the sooner you realise it, the sooner you embrace and leverage it, the more successful you’ll be. The same goes for your business!”

    Thursday 14 March 2019

    Vote for a stronger European Union, vote for peace!

    With the rise of parties who want to destroy the #peace we enjoy in the #EuropeanUnion, voting in the European elections has never been so important! 
    Together with some enthusiastic #Europeanvolunteers, I organized events to raise awareness about the necessity of expressing our vote in order to avoid separatists and extremists from getting into the #EuropeanParliament. Here is a spontaneous video recorded at our "Dancing for Europe" event, in which I talk about 3 amazing privileges we enjoy in Europe, a part of PEACE, which is, without any doubt, the biggest of all: 

    1. being able to travel without a visa, to study and/or work in any other EU country, 
    2. being able to use a single currency in most of the EU countries,
    3. enjoying since last year to no longer pay roaming fees when traveling, thanks to the CSV deputy, Viviane Reding, former vice-president of the European Commission... 
    Let's all join our forces for #Europe and become angels of peace! 


    Wednesday 13 March 2019

    Female leadership, back to the basics (pt.3)

    This article was published on RTL Today on 20/02/2019: https://today.rtl.lu/news/opinion/a/1309249.html
    The International Women's Day (8 March 2019) is fast approaching. 
    Let us therefore continue to look at the situation of female leadership in Luxembourg in the last fifteen years. Why fifteen? Because it was fifteen years ago that I co-founded the Women Entrepreneurs Association (Fédération des Femmes Cheffes d'Entreprise du Luxembourg), with ten other active and motivated women entrepreneurs.
    I remember like it was yesterday how the choice of our association's name, i.e. including the word "cheffes" (meaning women bosses, when French has only a masculine noun for boss), has drawn a lot of attention on the association, back in 2004. Some people took us as a joke, some were questioning why we would feminize the word "boss" and some were pretty critical in calling us a club of "bonnes femmes". However, some felt inspired by our act, which, in fact, originates from the German feminine noun for boss which is "Cheffin".
    Last week I participated in the monthly meeting of the City of Luxembourg's Commission "Equality between women and men" at CID Femmes and, in this context, one of our colleagues proposed that a seminar is organized this year on how languages influence our perception of different professions. What a fascinating topic, especially for me as a linguist! One of our female members of the commission who works as a dancer mentioned that, when asked to be presented as Tänzer or Tänzerin for à German programme, she preferred Tänzer, meaning that she would rather use the masculine noun rather than the feminine. Luckily, this semantic problem does not exist in English. I look forward to the event that CID femmes might be able to organize later this year with the University of Luxembourg on this very interesting topic which has a much higher impact than we might think on stereotypes about feminine and masculine professions.
    In last week's article we saw that a common thread in defining leadership roles is that the leader acts as a role model and inspires and influences others. Which prompts me to ask the question Can anybody become a leader? As I like to say nothing is impossible! However, there is another important question to consider. Does everyonewant to be a leader? There are still women who do not see the satisfactions offered by a leadership position, but only the challenges. Many people, both men and women, simply don't want to take on a leader's role but prefer instead to thrive in an "expert" role. For many years I have been discussing about this with women and not few explained me that, for them, leadership roles mostly meant long hours in the office, problems balancing work with family life, the stress and fear of making the right decisions or unpopular decisions that influence the atmosphere of the organisation and the quality of people's lives; solitude, isolation, organisational politics, and difficulties getting people involved and motivated.
    However, for those of you tempted by responsibilities and leadership positions, there are two fantastic sources of satisfaction gained from being a leader. Firstly, the ability to change things and make a difference in an organisation and society, and secondly by helping people to grow and reach their potential. Indeed, great leaders are not always asking themselves "What's in it for me?" but rather think of the well-being of their colleagues and company before their own.
    In a recent press conference, the new Minister of Equality between Women and Men, Taina Bofferding, was highlighting the progress made in Luxembourg in certain areas. For example, the board of directors for public institutions are currently made up of 40% women representatives. Compared to 4 years ago, when women only made up 30%. In the same line, the board of directors of public institutions have almost 35% women who are involved in the decision-making process.
    But why is it so difficult, what can actually lead to success? "Leaders do not have to be great men and women by being intellectual geniuses or omniscient prophets to succeed. But they do need to have the "right stuff" and this "stuff" is not equally present in all people" (Kirkpatrick & Locke - Leadership: Do Traits Matter?, The Academy of Management Executive). It's this "stuff" that we read about in the thousands of books and articles written on the topic of leadership, and which we need to explore further to find the personal recipe that fits our own leadership personality.
    Numerous women I have interviewed for my books "Leadership féminin au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg" and "Women leadership in the Greater Region" mentioned the challenge of succeeding at work as well as in their private life, and for that reason it makes sense to share some aspects of Dr. Stewart D. Friedman's Total Leadership Programme that he teaches at the Wharton Business School. His concept refers to the performance of a leader in all four of life's domains: work, home, community and self (mind, body and spirit) achieving "four-way wins", not trading one for another, but finding mutual value among them. "Total because it's about the whole person and Leadership because it's about creating sustainable change to benefit not just you but the most important people around you", says. Dr. Friedman in "Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life", Harvard Business Review. The Total Leadership concept rests on three principles: Be Real, which means you should act with authenticity by clarifying what's important for you and for the people who matter most to you (these people he calls the "key stakeholders" as they are in all four domains of your life); Be Whole, which means acting with integrity by respecting the whole person; and Be Innovative, which means acting with creativity by experimenting with how things get done.
    The universal theory of leadership states that certain leadership traits are universally important. One must possess leadership qualities and talents such as interpersonal, strategic, and analytical skills; an aptitude for effective decision-making, courage, determination, strength, and belief in your skills and capabilities. Hard work, team building and an ability to develop long-term strategies by communicating your vision, as along with motivation, knowledge, and persistence will also increase the probability that you can become an effective leader. However, what is true in one case is not true in another, because of the huge diversity of leadership situations. The type of organisation in which the leadership role is assumed as well as the leadership style of the leader will highly influence his or her effectiveness.
    Which traits are more important than others in becoming and being a leader? The women I interviewed placed different levels of importance on different capabilities and qualities.
    For example, Doris de Paoli -with whom I co-founded Fédération des Femmes Cheffes d'Entreprises du Luxembourg- believes, after more than 30 years in the financial sector, that the essential quality of a woman leader is a great willingness. She also must be courageous and open minded. For Doris, the balance between professional and family life is negotiable, however she points out that careers cannot be built by working part-time. A boss needs to be there when key decisions are made. Everything depends on good organisation and time management, as well as in sharing the daily household tasks with your partner.
    Michele Detaille, director of No-Nail Boxes emphasises that "The first quality of a leader is certainly to know how to make decisions, but a good leader should also be able to motivate their team, to give their best at all times, and know how and when to delegate, which also means trusting the people they delegate to. Regarding leadership as a woman, I believe that women are more pragmatic and less attached to symbols of power than men; they essentially wish to act. Personally, I generally search for consensus in my company. Is this feminine or political?"
    For Monica Jonsson, founder of CoachDynamix, the difference between those who succeed and those who don't is the willingness to see setbacks as experiences and learn from them. "If what we are doing is not working, we need to step back and understand that we may need to do something different in order to get the results we want." Her advice to women with leadership potential is to embrace and be proud of their feminine qualities, and also to become kinder and better at supporting each other in a business context. She encourages women to develop a sense of sisterhood "Where we can naturally help, support, coach and mentor each other to succeed. Once we start to progress in our careers, we need to be generous and share our experiences."
    Next week I will share with you a list of recommendations distilled from my own experiences as well as from the suggestions received from the women I have interviewed for my books. Each piece of advice is worthy of your attention if you wish to enhance your visibility and be appointed to leadership positions. Some advice will resonate more with you and some less. While writing these pieces of advice I thought specifically about our challenges as women, our needs and leadership experiences, all the time taking into account the stories that I had heard during these last fifteen years. I believe that most (if not all) of this advice applies to men, too.
    About the author:
    Daniela Clara Moraru is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Languages.lu and of the mobile app to learn Luxembourgish "365 Days Luxembourgish", among others.
    In addition, she has been highly involved in the promotion of entrepreneurship and leadership, especially among women. She was a founding member of FFCEL (Women Entrepreneurs Association), Femmes Leaders du Luxembourg, as well as Inspiring Wo-Men, an initiative aimed at inspiring people to inspire others, which included the "Inspiring Woman of the Year", "Inspiring Man of the Year" and "Top Company for Gender Equality" Awards.
    In 2013, Daniela Clara Moraru has been recognized as "Woman inspiring Europe" by the European Institute for Gender Equality of the European Commission.

    Friday 8 March 2019

    Bonne journée de la femme!

    Depuis 2004, je me suis engagée pour que la voix des femmes soit plus forte et pour qu'elle soit écoutée au Luxembourg. Au début en tant que membre fondatrice de la Fédération des Femmes Cheffes d'Entreprises du Luxembourg, en 2007 comme fondatrice et première présidente de Femmes Leaders du Luxembourg et puis en 2009 comme fondatrice de Inspiring Wo-Men.
    Chaque année j'ai organisé une manifestation pour que les femmes qui inspirent soient reconnues et honorées afin qu'elles rayonnent et inspirent davantage autour d'elles.
    Hier j'ai transposé mon expérience et mon savoir-faire de 15 ans dans la politique en organisant avec le CSV International (que je préside depuis fin décembre 2018) une soirée musicale d'exception "Les femmes à l'honneur" en mettant dans la lumière quelques femmes remarquables de la politique luxembourgeoise.


    Mon message aujourd'hui est de vous engager dans la politique, mesdames, nous y avons besoin de parité et donc pour cela de plus de femmes motivées et intéressées à s'impliquer et à contribuer!
    Dimanche le 10 mars 2019 de 11h30 à 16h00 je serai au stand de CSV. J'y serai en tant que représentante de la section internationale du parti, mais aussi en tant que membre du Comité national de CSF (CSV Fraen) avec d'autres membres actives du parti et à coté des autres organisations féminines politiques. Venez nous rendre visite, faire notre connaissance et nous parler de vous et vos besoins!
    A dimanche! Bonne journée de la femme!
    Blogger Template Created by pipdig