A few days ago was International Women’s Day and along with worldwide events recognizing our progress it is also a time to reflect on the long road that still lies ahead for real equality when women in the U.S. and abroad
My trip to Lagos with YPO (Young Presidents Organization) brought several interesting insights. Nigeria is still considered a developing country and is 10 years behind what most Americans have come to take for granted. The country has an extreme level of poverty and deals with issues such as access to clean water and power. Even in the best hotels, the power often shuts down for minutes or hours. Life is a daily grind for most of the Nigerian people who live in survival mode.
I have been in Nigeria for three days as a guest with the Young President’s Organization). As part of my trip, I spent a few hours with the Managing Director of DHL here in Nigeria, Randy Buday. He is responsible for managing the Western countries in Africa. He is an American originally from the Los Angeles area who has lived and worked in Africa for 30 years.
During my visit to Taiwan, I was able to visit two of the county Governors, Hsi-Wei (Joe) Chou from Taipei County and Chiu-Hsing Yang of Kaohsiung County. I observed in both leaders a similar leadership style where people matter.
Each governor hosted a leadership forum in their county that included speeches, a panel discussion about leadership and a luncheon banquet. What struck me was how I learned about their real authentic leadership style. It was not by the remarks given at the leadership forum or by the hospitality shown at the celebration banquet but rather by observing small acts of humanity that shone a light into their REAL leadership.
As I stood in the airport in Taipei, Taiwan saying goodbye to my new friends, Nicole Hsieh and Joanna Chang, I suddenly felt emotional. We had just met 3 days before but had spent almost every waking minute together during my short trip there. I had come to speak at a leadership forum that also included a nonstop schedule of lunch and dinner banquets, press interviews, panel discussions and meetings with prominent business owners, politicians and women advocates.