The panel discussion, Leadership for the 21st Century MFI, focused on the leadership challenges facing CEOs and senior management teams, and what critical skills need to be developed and enhanced to ensure that principled, visionary leaders can continue to deliver on the ‘double bottom line’ of profitability and social impact. Kathryn outlined WWBs dual approach to provide leadership workshops for high potential women and senior officers of the MFIs along with support for creating high performing meritocratic organizations by providing organization gender assessments.
Panelists Glynis Rankin, founding Director of Creative Metier Limited, and Peg Ross, Director of the Human Capital Center (HCC) at Grameen Foundation, discussed the stresses that hectic rates of growth, increasing complexity, and pressures to become more commercially-motivated put on MFI managers and leaders. They also discussed their two diverse approaches to leadership development.
Glynis Rankin noted that, many times in institutions that have small senior leadership teams there is not a clear definition of a leader. When institutions grow, senior jobs often become messier as people take on more and more responsibility within increasingly complex organizational structures. The WWB Coaching Program run by the Creative Metier team has been very effective at addressing these and other issues currently faced by microfinance leaders. Leaders are receiving assistance when they need it, allowing them to clarify their own leadership role and address real business issues in real time.
In contrast, Grameen Foundation is currently focused on a project to develop and train middle managers. Peg Ross explained that, MFI leaders who are dealing with transformation and increasing complexity may not often take the time to stop and reflect. She stressed that the key to growth is to ensure that the people side of the business lines up with the business side. This means helping leaders to reflect strategically on their own skills while acknowledging and developing complementary strengths in senior teams. Developing strong middle management teams allows organizations to create a pipeline of future talent for future leadership of the industry.
The two panelists’ final recommendations for MFIs to build a culture of strong principled and visionary leaders is to first conduct a needs assessment to determine what type of training is needed to ensure that they are providing the right type of intervention. Equally as important, MFIs need to get senior leaders on board to create a culture that values leadership and understands the importance of making an investment in developing people to create a high performing environment.
To read more about the SEEP Annual Conference click here