Events - EIC Community Training on Women in Leadership: fuelling innovation with the generosity quotient
More than 30 female CEOs of startups, willing to take the next step of their leadership journey, joined the first EIC Community Training on Women in Leadership, which took place on 4 December 2020. During the 4-hour training session, the participants refined their own leadership style with inspirational discussions and insightful networking experiences.
Studies show that diverse companies perform better, and the participation of women leaders in the business ecosystem is more than a matter of fairness. It’s a successful key factor. Over the past year, the European Innovation Council developed multiple initiatives to foster female empowerment, increasing the number of women-led companies in the portfolio. Despite the favourable climate, when it comes to assuming leadership positions, women acting in the startup scene still face some hurdles.
To support women innovators on their leading roles, the EIC Business Acceleration Services is running women leadership initiatives, featuring dedicated activities like the ePitching Women in Tech and the Community Training of December 2020. Together with a business coach, the attendees received a framework and process to develop their unique leadership style, as well as techniques on how to communicate effectively in online meetings. To promote peer-to-peer learning experiences, iBreve’s CEO Flavia Wahl and GenesInk’s founder Corinne Versini shared their testimonials.
After the workshop, we sat down with the coach of the event, Jill Adams, and the attendees Virginia Corless, Chief Growth Officer at Novihum Technologies, and Magdalena Kozłowska, CEO and Co-founder at NapiFeryn BioTech to talk about leadership tips and tricks and get feedback about the session.
‘The perfectionism trap’
The workshop started with a quote from Sheryl Sandberg. In the words of the COO from Facebook, “female leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection”. But how can women lead effectively and be authentic? Jill Adams explored this question, explaining that “balance is key”. “We need to pay attention to our strengths to make sure they are not becoming pitfalls. We need to find the right balance between perfection and authenticity”, she said. According to Sheryl Sandberg, when it comes to leadership, “expecting that all can be exactly right is a recipe for disappointment” and “perfection is the enemy” of good. “As the COO from Facebook mentioned, we need to allow ourselves to make mistakes. Making mistakes is an essential part of our learning development. If we miss that, we will stay in our comfort zone, and we will also make other errors. If we don’t take certain risks because of our fear of perfection, we limit ourselves on what we can do”, concluded Jill.
The guest speaker Corinne Versini also shared her views and experience on this topic. According to Magdalena Kozłowska, the advice from the CEO of GenesInk, was one of the “take-home messages” from the session: “I think it’s very important what Corinne said during her presentation. We need to keep asking ourselves why we are doing certain things. If we understand what it’s driving us, why it’s important what we do, we will find the way to do it.”, said Magda. “The other advice that I will take is that we can listen to our emotions and intuition in combination with the rationalisation of arguments. I think that’s also an essential part of leading” Magda concluded.
Tackling the gender gap on the technology stage
Despite the multiple efforts to increase the presence of women panellists and speakers at tech conferences, women are still underrepresented on the technology stage. The numbers speak for themselves, reflecting the entire tech industry gender gap. According to Ensono’s second annual "Speak Up" report, “Speak Up 2020: Redesigning Tech Conferences with Women in Mind”, women only made up 28% of keynote speakers at tech conferences during the last three years. During the training, the participants also discussed this disparity and shared experiences to make the most of these events. “If we go to those places thinking that we don’t fit there, we are going to portray the kind of image that we don’t want to transmit. As our speaker Flavia explained, we need to prepare ourselves to who is going to be there, who we actually know, or for example, who should we contact upfront”, said Jill.
Virginia Corless was one of the participants that shared this concern, and at the end of the session, she was satisfied with the recommendations provided: “In tech networks and conferences, buzz is very important, which startups are expected to become the next unicorn, the next big disruptor. And, because all of us are shaped by the expectations and experiences of our society, too often, women-led companies don’t benefit from that buzz. I was curious to explore how we could better navigate this. I thought there were some very good tips from other participants; for example, not hesitating to put our competences on the table early on”, Virginia added.
The generosity quotient
The EIC Community Training events continue to have a particular focus on the peer-to-peer learning experiences, and according to Jill Adams, this format creates “a unique environment”. “Networks don’t work on their own, and we need to keep feeding them. What I saw today was a very generous network. The participants were willing to share the challenges they face and generously sharing how they dealt with tips, names and links. We need to keep up that generosity to make a powerful network”, she concluded.
Are you interested in receiving tailored business training events, Q&A-sessions and further peer-to-peer events? The EIC Community Events are a regular part of the European Innovation Council Business Acceleration Services. In January, we will launch applications for a Winter School. Keep your eyes on our EIC Community and Calendar for further details and future events!