Claudia Frittelli: Leadership Training Addresses Inner Work Life for Women the World Over

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What was one of the most important takeaways from the Harvard Business School meeting?

At the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Leadership Foundation training sessions at Harvard Business School, which was also attended by two Corporation-sponsored fellows from African universities, I was especially taken by the presentation by one of the authors of the book, The Progress Principle, which explores the concept of the inner work life. The author, Teresa Amabile, makes the point that a positive inner work life makes high performance ─ especially the generation of creative ideas ─ possible.

What makes people happy, motivated and creative at work?

According to Amabile’s employee surveys of high-performing organizations, “making progress on meaningful work” is the number one motivator for a positive inner work life. This was not obvious to managers who rated “recognition” as the strongest motivator. The next question she asked was, what are managers doing to support progress? The top five catalyzers she found were providing: Clear Meaningful Goals, Autonomy, Sufficient Resources, Help with the Work, Learning from Problems and Successes, and Open Idea Flow.

Why were you at this training session?

I had the pleasure of meeting two African university emerging women leaders sponsored by Carnegie Corporation, Florence Tushabe from Makerere University and Nana Aba Amfo from Univeristy of Ghana. Both commented that the program had already been life-changing and they were highly appreciative of Corporation support. Several former African university fellows who participated in the program have reached top levels of national leadership, including Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports and Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania. Two others have become university vice chancellors and one became an acting vice-chancellor.

Why does Carnegie Corporation of New York sponsor African University women for this program?

The Corporation has supported young women in this program since 2002 in order to improve the dearth of African university senior women leaders. As African universities recognize the challenge they have to educate leaders in many fields, and the responsibility they bear for preparing the next generation of citizens, the critical importance the role of women at the senior management level of the higher education system has become more and more apparent. Although national policy statements promote gender equity, and have even yielded results in some sectors such as politics, these levels of achievement have not been reached in academia.

What does the training consist of?

The fellows participate in three week-long training sessions at the IWF annual forum, at Harvard Business School and at INSEAD ("Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires" or European Institute of Business Administration) where they interact with international emerging women leaders from the public and private sectors.

What are they expected to gain?

The program offers creative, multi-disciplinary training aimed at developing leadership and strategic management capabilities. Fellows engage in a combination of classroom work, case-study discussion, and peer advice. During that time, they hone their ability to think strategically in areas including negotiations, organization learning, marketing, global affairs, and the management of innovation and services. At INSEAD’s international campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi (UAE), the fellows work to gain a deeper, global perspective. In addition to their leadership training, each fellow is matched with an IWF member who serves as her mentor and coach during the program year ─ a chance to garner personal insights and advice from women at the top of their fields. A legacy project provides the opportunity to leverage what they have learned to help expand the leadership capacity of women in their organization and community, and to create a ripple effect that empowers more women to aspire to leadership roles.

Find out more about the program at iwforum.org/leadership-foundation/fellows-program/