Sophie Brochu on rethinking management mindsets

Sophie Brochu on rethinking management mindsets

“Women represent half of the world, in capacity and in intelligence, we are not a niche segment,” said Sophie Brochu, the former Hydro-Québec CEO, at a recent breakfast event hosted by The A Effect.

Over a hundred women and men from various industries across Québec were in attendance to discuss why it’s important to talk about the role of managers in their organizations. And Sophie Brochu definitely gave us a lot to think about—especially on how to encourage women leaders in the talent pipeline.

The root of the problem, according to Brochu, is mindset, in particular during the second act of a woman’s career. At this point, she has moved into leadership roles, but she’s stuck in a mid-level position. The mindset of most women at this stage tends to be tactical—they want to prove to higher-ups that they deserve to be there and so they focus on becoming the best.

But more often than not, men’s mindset happens to be more strategic, envisioning this stage as a stepping stone to the next. Typically, men also invest themselves, but they are curious about what else is happening in the organization. As Brochu explained, when executives are evaluating candidates, “we aren’t looking for expertise, we’re looking for curiosity. So it’s the woman’s unconscious ‘brake’ against the organization’s unconscious bias.”

Simply put, organizations need to make the effort to expose their women directors to cross-functional projects that have nothing to do with their expertise, but everything to do with their development as future executives.

How to break this stalemate?

As Martine Rhéaume, Program Director, The A Effect summed it up, “Women are not broken, the system is broken. We don’t want to penalize men in leadership, but we do have to make environments more welcoming to women and encourage conversations both in the office and at home.”

Her solution? Creating safe spaces, where teams and leaders can change the way they think, move out of old ways of thinking and test new ways of working. “A good leader can create and maintain these spaces,” Brochu explained. “This is something that women do more intuitively than men.”

Although companies like having women who complete tasks, organizations must give women new opportunities and projects so that they are not seen as experts in their field but rather as executives in the making.

As Sophie Brochu so eloquently concluded, “As a society, we deserve a more well-rounded and holistic approach to confront the challenges that business will continue to face. The first step is realizing that we are managing human beings and not just managing results.”

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