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Lead to Soar: Career Advice and Guidance for Women + Guidance for Leaders Who Care About Advancing Women

What Happens When a Flower Fails to Bloom?

Season 7, Ep. 133

In this episode, Michelle and Mel use the metaphor of a flower blooming to discuss the growth of women in the workplace. They talk about the importance of enhancing the work environment for women's growth rather than trying to "fix" them. The episode also highlights workplace challenges faced by women, emphasizes the need to ask better questions about workplace environments and women's barriers, and provides practical advice for leaders to create inclusive environments and address systemic biases.


Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)

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  • 142. AI and the Future of HR, featuring Erika Jefferson

    45:31
    In this thought-provoking episode, Mel, Michelle, and Erika discuss the intersection of human resources (HR) and artificial intelligence (AI), exploring the implications, opportunities, and challenges that HR professionals face in the era of AI-driven automation and decision-making. As organizations globally adopt AI technologies to enhance hiring processes and operational efficiency, the trio sheds light on the necessity for HR to evolve, the fears surrounding job replacement, and the critical need for strategic, informed decision-making within HR departments.Episode Highlights:AI in Hiring: Reflection on the widespread use of automation and AI in hiring processes among Fortune 500 companies, including robot avatars and resume scanning algorithms.The HR Fear Factor: Erika discusses the anxiety within HR communities about AI potentially replacing human jobs, highlighting a general lack of analytics and technology training within traditional HR roles.The Need for HR Upskilling: Both Erika and Michelle emphasize the urgency for HR professionals to acquire technology and analytics skills, not only for job security but also to ensure they can contribute strategically to organizational growth and ethics in AI usage.Generative AI and Bias Concerns: The conversation touches on the risks associated with generative AI, such as biased algorithms influencing hiring decisions, underscoring the importance of knowledge and ethical considerations in AI deployment.Strategic Role of HR in AI Era: Michelle stresses the potential for HR to act as a conduit for upskilling the broader organization in AI literacy, while also advocating for HR itself to undergo significant upskilling.Legal and Ethical Implications: Erika warns of the increasing likelihood of lawsuits arising from misapplications of AI in HR, pointing to a crucial need for bespoke, organization-specific AI solutions to mitigate risk.Cultural and Organizational Transformation: The discussion extends to the role of HR in driving cultural and organizational change, advocating for a transformational approach to HR that leverages AI for strategic advantage rather than mere cost-cutting.Leadership Call to ActionFor HR Professionals: Embrace technology and analytics training. Engage with AI tools critically and ethically. Innovate in your role to become a strategic partner in your organization.For Organizations: Invest in upskilling HR teams. Consider the development of bespoke AI solutions that align with company policies and ethical standards. Promote a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 141. Effective Leaders Do Succession Planning! Here's how!

    17:40
    In this insightful episode, Mel Butcher and Michelle Redfern tackle the often overlooked yet critical aspect of leadership—succession planning. They explore why leaders tend to shy away from this responsibility and provide a roadmap for effective succession planning that prepares organizations for future challenges. This episode is a must-listen for anyone in a leadership position, offering practical strategies for cultivating the next generation of leaders.Episode Highlights:The Importance of Succession Planning: An exploration of why succession planning is essential for sustainable organizational growth and leadership transition.Overcoming Avoidance: Michelle shares insights on the common reasons leaders avoid succession planning and how to overcome these hurdles.Evaluating Talent: Strategies for evaluating in-house versus outside talent, emphasizing the importance of knowing potential successors' capabilities and developmental needs.Developing Talent: Discussion on the necessity of grooming potential candidates through mentoring, coaching, and training to prepare them for leadership roles.Continuous Planning: The significance of continuously updating succession plans to ensure the organization's readiness for future leadership needs.Transparent Communication: The value of clear and transparent communication about succession planning processes within the organization.Leadership Call to ActionStart the succession planning process by evaluating your organization's future leadership needs.Develop a comprehensive understanding of potential candidates' strengths and areas for growth.Create a culture of continuous professional development and open communication about career paths and leadership opportunities.Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 140. How to Take Your Mentoring Program from Good to Great!

    25:49
    In this episode of Lead to Soar, Mel Butcher and Michelle Redfern discuss the importance of creating a strategic mentoring program. They challenge the traditional, often questionable effectiveness of mentoring programs and present a strategic approach that promises to elevate these initiatives from good to great. Targeted at leaders, HR professionals, and decision-makers, this episode is a masterclass on designing mentoring programs that genuinely advance women's careers.Episode Highlights:The Strategic Importance of Mentoring: Michelle Redfern highlights the need for mentoring programs to be strategic, aligning with organizational goals and the advancement of women.Organizational Goals Alignment: The episode discusses how strategic mentoring programs are essential components of talent management strategies, emphasizing the alignment with organizational goals for true effectiveness.Selection of Mentors: A critical examination of mentor selection processes, pointing out that not every high-level executive is naturally equipped to mentor effectively.Mentor Training: Insights into the necessity of providing mentors with the training and development they need to guide their mentees successfully.Beyond Confidence: The conversation moves beyond the conventional focus on boosting confidence, advocating for mentoring that focuses on critical skill development, especially for women.Strategic Mentoring’s Impact: The episode wraps up by underlining the significant impact strategic mentoring can have on closing the leadership gender gap within organizations.Actionable Advice:Assess and align your mentoring program with the broader goals of your organization.Be thoughtful and strategic in selecting mentors, recognizing that not all are suited for this role.Invest in mentor training to ensure they are equipped to provide valuable guidance.Focus mentoring efforts on skill development rather than just confidence building.Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 139. Why Aren’t Leaders Talking About Race? with Gloria Tabi

    43:35
    Gloria Tabi, founder of Everyday Inclusion, joins Mel & Michelle to share her powerful journey from confronting workplace racism and sexism to developing a platform that bridges the gap between diversity policies and their real-world impact.Gloria’s experience highlights the structural barriers that marginalise individuals, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and addressing these challenges to create genuinely inclusive workplaces.Links and resourcesEveryday Inclusion Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 138. Leadership Compass: Mastering the Art of Social Intelligence in Leadership

    30:48
    This episode is the third in our series about The Leadership Compass. Mel discusses the concept of Social Intelligence (SQ), with Michelle. SQ is a crucial component of The Leadership Compass. She articulates SQ as essential for leaders to intentionally build their professional brand and leverage strategic networks. This skill complements Business Intelligence (BQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ), enhancing a leader's ability to succeed in their roles.Michelle emphasizes the importance of SQ in the context of leadership, highlighting the need for women, in particular, to balance interpersonal skills with business acumen. She shares insights on creating a robust professional identity, strategic networking, and using powered up communication to enhance visibility and credibility.The conversation also touches on the practical benefits of a strategic network in achieving business goals and advancing careers. Michelle's personal revelations and the strategic approach to networking and brand building serve as a guide for listeners to refine their SQ.Listeners interested in a deeper exploration of SQ and its integration with BQ and EQ can find Michelle's book, "The Leadership Compass," available for purchase. The book is a comprehensive guide for women leaders to reach their full potential, available on michelleredfern.com and major retailers like Amazon and Booktopia.Links and ResourcesThe Leadership Compass book offers a deeper look at essential leadership skills. For more information and to pre-order, visit michelleredfern.com/books.
  • 137. Leadership Compass: Mastering the Art of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

    27:54
    Leadership Compass: Mastering the Art of Emotional Intelligence in LeadershipIn this episode of the "Lead to Soar" podcast, Mel interviews Michelle regarding the definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in leadership, as described in her book, The Leadership Compass. Michelle shares personal stories, highlighting the importance of self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, and a growth mindset in navigating the complexities of professional environments. The episode also explores the significance of reflective practice in personal and professional growth, providing valuable insights for aspiring and experienced leaders.Links and ResourcesThe Leadership Compass book offers a deeper look at essential leadership skills. For more information and to pre-order, visit michelleredfern.com/books.Subscribe to Lead to Soar for more practical advice and inspirational stories from leaders like Michelle. Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 136. Leadership Compass: Mastering the Art of Business Intelligence in Leadership

    35:44
    This episode is the first in a series exploring leadership skills detailed in "The Leadership Compass." Stay tuned for more insights on SQ and EQ in upcoming episodes. In this episode, Mel interviews Michelle about  Business Intelligence (BQ) as a critical skill for effective leadership. Unlike innate strengths, BQ, along with Social (SQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ), can be developed through practice. Michelle shares transformative experiences from her career, emphasising the importance of continuous learning and adaptability in leadership roles. Some of the key takeaways:- Leadership Development: Michelle's journey highlights the power of self-reflection in personal and professional growth.- Importance of BQ:Understanding business, strategic and financial management is crucial for leadership success.- Continuous Learning: Michelle's stories underscore the need for leaders to constantly evolve and acquire new skills.- Visibility of Skills: Advancing in leadership requires women to not only  development critical skills but also being recognised for those skills.Links and ResourcesThe Leadership Compass book offers a deeper look at essential leadership skills. For more information and to pre-order, visit michelleredfern.com/books.Subscribe to Lead to Soar for more practical advice and inspirational stories from leaders like Michelle. Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 135. Why are women less likely to ask questions in public?

    14:59
    In this episode, Michelle and Mel discuss the findings of a BBC article, addressing why women are less likely to ask questions in public settings, such as academic seminars and business meetings. They explore how this trend impacts women's visibility and participation in professional environments.Links and resourcesArticle: Why are Women Less Likely to Ask Questions in Public Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)
  • 134. F*ck the Cupcakes: How to Honor the Women in Your Company in March...the right way

    27:50
    In this episode of the Lead to Soar podcast, hosts Mel and Michelle discuss the complexities and often performative nature of International Women's Day (IWD). They examine how businesses frequently fall short in meaningful support of gender equality and issue a clear call to action for more than just superficial acknowledgments of workplace gender equality. The discussion covers a range of topics, including the expectation of women to contribute free labour for IWD events, the role of leadership in fostering genuine diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the importance of intersectionality in understanding the varied experiences of women in the workplace. This episode is a call to action for leaders and organisations to move beyond token gestures (like cupcakes!) and engage in substantive and sustained support and advocacy for workplace gender equality.Lead to Soar is a global online network for businesswomen, a podcast, and we host live-streaming and in person events to help women have a career that soars! The podcast is hosted by Mel Butcher (melbutcher.com) and Michelle Redfern (michelleredfern.com)