Women draw power from conference

Author/leadership coach Maggie Craddock delivered the Next Gen Inspire conference keynote address. - PHOTO: MARK MUCKENFUSS

Mark Muckenfuss

This was not just pink, it was power pink.

In-your-face, I’m-not-afraid, get-used-to-it pink.

Colored lights painted the walls in the Marriott Beach Resort ballroom in a hue one might expect to encounter in Barbie’s Dream House. It seemed not only an acknowledgement of gender stereotype, but a reclaiming of the brand. After all, the Next Gen Inspire 2017 women’s business conference was all about presence and power.

Sponsored by 100 Women in Finance, the half-day event was highlighted by author/leadership coach Maggie Craddock, who delivered the keynote address.

The event also included an hour-long panel discussion on the importance of presence, afternoon workshops and time for attendees to network.

Sisters Harriett Moon and Michelle Wight recently started their own public relations company, Not Your Standard Agency. Wight said the opportunity to talk to other business women was important.

“It’s an amazing platform just to connect with other like-minded individuals,” Wight said.

Moon found it energizing.

“There was some inspiring content,” Moon said. “We got a lot of meetings with new people, so I think I’m going to take from Maggie’s presentation and do my research.”

Keynote speaker Maggie Craddock, right, talks with Tristanna Ebanks during a brief book signing following the Next Gen Inspire conference. – PHOTO: MARK MUCKENFUSS

That research will involve trying to assess the power styles of the people Moon and her sister encounter in their business dealings.

In her conference address, Craddock laid out those styles, which she defines in her book “Power Genes: Understanding Your Power Persona – and How to Wield It at Work.” The concepts that led her to categorize the way people exercise power, she said, came from years of working with top business people.

“Power, as we look at it, is a relationship with others,” Craddock said, “the ability to negotiate with others.”

She divides power styles into four somewhat self-explanatory types: pleasers, charmers, commanders and inspirers. While most people will exercise all of these, depending upon the situation, the dominant power style a person defaults to, she said, typically depends on the social dynamic they grew up with as a child. Her template comes from gathering information from her clients.

“We began to study thousands of family histories,” she said. “Over the past 20 years, whether I’m working with a group or an individual client, I’ll have sessions where I will sit down and do a power map.”

What she discovered, she said, is that people will use a certain type of power to “try and get their needs met.”

Recognizing your own power style and those of others, allows you to modify your behavior to get the most out of your interactions with others, Craddock said.

“The basis of power,” she said, “is really the conversations you have with yourself. The better we are at identifying our own [style] the less judgmental we are and the more able we are to identify them in others.”

Once that happens, she said, people are more easily able to adapt their style to a given situation.

Lani Bothwell, of Maples and Calder, said Craddock’s ideas made sense to her.

“It is about being agile with other people’s personas,” she said.

The local chapter of 100 Women in Finance got its start in 2002, when a group of seven Cayman business women met and talked about joining the worldwide organization. Within five years, they had more than 700 members. There are just over 200 members of the organization’s year-old Next Gen group, made up of women with less than 10 years of business experience.

Recently, the Cayman organization started a program for girls 10-12, GirlForce, which teaches goal setting and provides career guidance.

Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, made note of that program when she addressed the conference.

“This may be another way in which Next Gen is leading the way for the rest of the world,” Pullinger said.

Novia McDonald-Whyte, of the Jamaica Observer, served as a panel member at the conference. She said the gathering was representative of a change she sees happening in business in the Caribbean.

“An event like this always happened, but we weren’t bold enough to say it’s for women only,” McDonald-Whyte said. “That’s the only difference. I think it’s just now that we’re bold enough to say we want the power and the earning power that goes with it.

“What comes with that” she added, “is a whole generation of women behind us no longer settling.”