Founding Director, Center for Women and Business at Bentley University
Betsy Myers is a leadership expert, author, and advocate. She was most recently the founding director of the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University in Boston, MA. Myers is also consulting, speaking, and leading workshops around the world on the changing nature of leadership and talent with a special expertise around women and leadership. Her book, Take the Lead — Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You, was released in September 2011 and named The Washington Post’s Best Leadership Book that year.
Myers’ experience spans the corporate, political, and higher education arenas. As executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government from 2003 to 2007, she focused the center's teaching and research around personal leadership and the fully integrated person.
A senior adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama, Myers served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chair of Women for Obama during President Obama’s 2008 national presidential campaign. During the Clinton Administration, Myers launched, and was the first director of, the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach. She also served as the director of the Office of Women's Business Ownership at the SBA.
Prior to joining the Clinton Administration, Myers spent six years building Myers Insurance and Financial Services in Los Angeles, specializing in the small business and women's market.
She received her Bachelor's Degree in business administration from the University of San Diego and her Master's Degree in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School, where she was also a Public Service Fellow.
Moving Beyond Diversity & Inclusion.
How do you know when your company is diverse and inclusive?
When your people-—regardless of gender, age, race, culture, or religion—feel they belong.
A central problem that corporate leaders face today is that their workforce is disengaged, disconnected and disaffected. The data overwhelmingly supports this sad truth—70% of workers are disengaged in the workplace; 61% of employees report they are “covering” or hiding some personal dimension to assimilate in their organization; and 80% of workers are either looking for a new job or are open to one.
Creating a sense of belonging in our companies is the solution to this problem. A belonging culture results from a successful and intertwined diversity and inclusion strategy. Belonging represents a culture that is engaged, motivated, productive, and connected both intellectually and emotionally, and through the head and heart. When workers feel like they belong, they’re 3.5 times more likely to contribute fully and innovatively to reach their full potential.
In addition to identifying this significant problem-and-solution set, this keynote will provide case studies that show companies with the best diversity and inclusion strategies that have led to belonging cultures across the globe. It will also offer major action steps, such as creating a new leadership model based on head-and-heart training; creating a new approach to community building based on connectivity; and creating a safe culture based on openness so that employees feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work.
6 Emerging Leadership Trends For The 21st Century. Leadership is undergoing a radical transformation as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. Indeed, C-Level executives and managers at both large and small companies are being challenged as never before by unprecedented changes in technology, demographics and the global economy. Responding and adapting to these sweeping shifts requires a breakthrough leadership approach that inspires people, builds community and establishes bonds of trust, commitment and connection. Simply put, the successful new leader for the 21st century must skillfully integrate an array of hard and soft traits and tools. This keynote will explain and analyze the six key trends that are causing disruption in our companies and organizations:
- A new leadership model -- the integration of head and heart
- A new leadership profile based on authenticity and self-knowledge
- A new work model that focuses on purpose as much as productivity
- The empowerment of women and millennials
- Community building and the development of a much-needed sense of belonging
- Merging people and ideas from the old and new generations
10 Ways That Relationships Drive Results. Relationships are the key to success for every leader. And results reflect the reservoir of goodwill you have with your team, colleagues and customers. Ask yourself this question openly and honestly -- How do the people around you feel about you? The answer will determine how successful you are. And, you can only be successful if you understand how human connection helps you achieve objectives. This keynote will explain and analyze 10 ways that leaders today can build rich relationships to drive sustained results:
- Self-Awareness — Be willing to admit mistakes; own your actions; accept feedback gracefully
- Heart Skills — Authenticity, generosity, appreciation, inclusion
- Transparency — Honesty, vulnerability and trust
- Listening — Hear everyone who has a voice; be a first-class noticer; observe
- Clarity — Thoughtful, conscious interactions and communication; what’s agreed upon? what are the relationship expectations? what does success look like?
- Common Ground — The new and super-charged way to forge compromise
- Acts of Kindness — Be there for your people; truly be there; see them
- Idea Interaction — More people should have a say in the vision
- Actions Not Words — Do what you say you’re going to do
- No Over-Promising — This leads to disappointment and disillusionment
Leadership That Honors Our Feelings. There is a clear need for a new style and approach to business leadership, one that places primacy on how our actions and our leadership are making other people feel.
Advanced degrees, years of experience, an important title, or access to power do not guarantee that you will be a successful leader. Effective leadership is about how you make people feel—about you, about the project or work you’re doing together, and especially about themselves. Why? Because it is often when people feel good about themselves and what they’re doing that they also do their best work. When people feel valued, appreciated, heard, supported, acknowledged, and included, they are motivated to bring their best selves forward. This is how initiatives get launched, profits are made, and the work gets done. It’s not just about being nice, it is about being effective.
Most of us don’t think of feelings as being the key to success in leadership. It seems almost counterintuitive. But think for a moment about the times in your life when you have been most productive: were not those also the times when you felt the most valued, supported, and appreciated?
If I were to recommend a single leadership skill to any organization, public or private, large or small, it would be this: put your focus on whether your leaders are bringing out the most productive feelings of their people. How do you know? You’ll know because when they are, you’ll see an organization full of people who feel a deep sense of connection and commitment to the organization and its mission, who are willing to take the lead and go the extra mile.
And I believe it is exactly that kind of leadership culture—a leadership that stays conscious about people’s feelings—that will have a hugely positive impact on every generation of workers, young and old alike; on both the women and the men in our organizations; and on employee engagement, commitment, and productivity across the board.
Satin and Steel—Nancy Pelosi—The First Woman For The 21st Century. As Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected woman in American history. She is front and center today as the most powerful woman in U.S. political history. As the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi has achieved unprecedented success and there is much to be learned—Yes, as a trail-blazer; but it is more about her effectiveness, perseverance and continued relevance. And it’s more, much more, than her biography—as impressive and inspiring as that biography is. The real story of Nancy Pelosi, the instructive story about Nancy Pelosi, revolves around the fact that she embodies a transformational leadership model for women in the 21st century.
The essence of her story and journey to leadership is relatable because it embodies so much of what women experience and juggle across their lives as wives, mothers, caretakers, volunteers and career late starts and time-outs. This is not a political speech but an assessment about a leader and a leadership model that gets results. This keynote is for women in leadership—although the lessons are important for male leaders too.
The Speaker of the House offers us a unique and authentic blend of satin and steel—an intricate model of effective leadership that draws upon hard muscle and soft empathy; intellect and intuition; competence and care; and grit, gumption and grace. Pelosi naturally balances and integrates six hard and six soft leadership characteristics. This hybrid is showing the way forward for female leaders everywhere.
This keynote will explore these twelve integrated and powerful leadership characteristics through the lens of Speaker Pelosi’s unprecedented leadership success. The hard muscle characteristics include; competence, competitiveness, resilience, confidence, accountability, and competitiveness. The soft empathy characteristics include; listening to understand, developing relationships, forming alliances, upholding principles, caring and empathy, and authenticity.
How Leaders Are Building Communities of Connection. It feels like America is in a vulnerable place today. Regardless of race, income, age, gender or geographic location, many Americans feel that some of our biggest problems aren’t being addressed and our political system isn’t working. We see similar frustrations in our companies, where workers are disengaged and management is struggling to retain its best employees. The results are also profound in families, where divorce, addiction, and social isolation have taken their toll.
There are many theories about “the why” of our modern-day problems, but this keynote is not about what’s not working—instead, it will focus on what is working. I’ve been encouraged by so many success stories in America, stories that show how we can solve real and difficult problems -- in families, communities and companies. There are examples everywhere of people living purposefully in work because they felt part of a community; people rebuilding and rebounding from setbacks because they were surrounded by a caring community; and neighbors extending neighbors a lifeline by providing communities of support and human connectivity.
The key leadership ingredient in each of these examples -- often over-looked in traditional leadership development strategies—is that they are driven and powered by community builders. This keynote will highlight community-building leadership best practices, as exemplified by an organization in Baltimore called Thread, which is helping scores of underperforming high school students confront significant home-life barriers by providing each student with a family of committed volunteers. Another personification of this—in Providence, a couple who lost twins far along in their pregnancy has created a support system for families that have experienced similar loss. In a Utah community, male neighbors help get a woman with MS out of her wheelchair and into her bed each night. And, in Dallas, Southwest Airlines treats employees like family—with love, care and respect—which is why over 90%of the airline’s workforce says it will go the extra mile for the company.
These inspirational best-practice stories provide a model for successful 21st century leadership, no matter the problem or arena. And this keynote will clearly show that we can achieve hard results by building communities of connection that enrich neighborhoods, companies and families in goodness and humanity.
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Founder & CEO, GRAVITAS, Former Associate Principal in McKinsey’s Global Fashion Practice