If organizations must be more liquid to survive, then more women in the workforce and particularly in leadership positions could be the magic formula for this to happen.
But, what is a liquid organization?
Liquid organizations are businesses that have learned to adapt and to grow and thrive in volatile, uncertain, conflict ridden, and ambiguous times. Since it is not possible to predict the future, these entities share efforts between the different components of their organizational system, thus quickly adapting to constant evolution.
According to Professor Arun Sharma, “to transform the business, the focus is on creating new business models and forms. The transformation strategy involves active horizon scanning, emphasizing external relevance (e.g., customer, consumer, and financial markets), seeking network effects, using new technology, and developing new business and organizational models.”
Therefore, in order to grow the business, companies must develop a strategy that focuses both on the changing composition of the business and on future changes that have to be implemented in order to create a liquid organization.
That means harnessing the potential of big data, artificial intelligence and the IoT, while keeping in mind the processes of optimization of values and the democratization of knowledge and information as facilitators of liquidity.
Professor Sharma insists that in order to allow adaptation companies will have to change their processes and structures to become more liquid. Among other issues, the structures will have to revolve around self-reliant and self-organized teams, while talent will be hired based on attitude and not skills.
So what is the role of women?
Women are changers of the rules of the game.
I find that women in senior positions demonstrate a variety of skills, including advising people, the capacity for reconciliation, horizontal and inclusive leadership, the focus on achieving goals and developing projects, the high level of empathy and the ability to find solutions.
While all of these benefits are pivotal to the success of any type of organization, they apply particularly to liquid organizations.
Interestingly, this was a consensus between men and women. Finding time to improve their employment skills, alongside basic job responsibilities was the biggest barrier they faced. “Both genders felt their key job role left them very little time to focus on promotion.”
Not surprisingly, second to job responsibilities, women mention that they have limited career growth due to lack of access to developmental job opportunities, the factor that shows the largest gender imbalance.
Those businesses that have decided to respond to the real context with a transformative approach to their business strategy and become “liquid organizations” will need to have a more balanced distribution of women in their workforce.
According to Daniel Goleman, “It is not that women are more emotionally intelligent than men, in fact…they are not better either, both of them have advantages. The ability of men to contain or block their emotions more (tune out) works well when there is a need to isolate yourself in the face of distress and stay calm while others around you are falling apart and focused on finding a solution to an urgent problem. And on the other hand, the female tendency to stay tuned helps enormously to nurture and supporting others in emotionally difficult circumstances is part of the ‘stress friend’ answer.”
A gender balanced workforce and leadership will enable a company to have the best emotional intelligence to navigate its transformation and ultimately thrive as a liquid organization.
This concept is extremely relevant, considering those elements that drive the success of liquid companies: hiring the “attitude” and complementing it by offering time and opportunities to improve the skills of their workers. Women are pivotal to this success.