Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 3:15 pm by bryna

More days than not, I (Bryna) marvel at how much I have to learn about business (and let’s face it, life generally). Being at the beginning of one’s career is a strange place; all at once full of so much potential and uncertainty. After five years of post-secondary, I’ve got about all the education I can handle right now, but the experience is a different beast altogether.

I certainly am not one to pretend I know everything. In fact, I think one strength any ‘under 30’ professional can have is the knowledge of their limitations, and the bravery to be transparent and ask questions when need arises. I think it’s this honesty that builds trust.

Building trust is a theme that’s been running through my mind, and many social media circles lately. The financial crisis of late has prompted a renewed questioning (or at least more public discussion) of old hierarchies and systems of governance, both financial and political. The idea of corporations being lumbering dinosaurs isn’t new, but I believe the urgency at which we address that issue is.

Fundamentally it’s a people issue–not an ‘organizational’ one. Corporations, non-profits, whatever systems we function in, are all created, and lived out, by the people in them. The recession has stirred a very heated pot to a tipping point. It’s no longer enough to give lip service to corporate responsibility; people must actively participate in it.

By corporate responsibility I mean more than the textbook definition of an organization giving money to charity, or going ‘green,’ or participating in a cause du jour. Responsibility encompasses that, but it also goes deeper; it stems from an internal awareness of who we are, and a willingness to admit when we’ve dropped the ball. As individuals, looking inward can be a scary thing. Magnify that by 1,000 or so people, and it’s easy to understand why big business often turns a blind eye.

Rona Maynard

Rona Maynard

Today I had the privilege of taking part in the Women in Business lunch, hosted by the Belleville Intelligencer. Being a female ‘under 30 pro’ I was taken aback by the transparency of the message given by all participants, and most notably by Rona Maynard, the luncheon’s keynote speaker: Be honest, we all mess up.

Be honest, we all mess up. If only more businesses understood that it’s ok to re-evaluate, and back up the train when they realize they’re going in the wrong direction. This is responsibility: It starts with individuals recognizing their limitations, and it becomes truth in an organization when the members of that community foster a culture of honesty and trust.

What this will look like in the future is becoming more clear to some, and less desirable to others. I will adress some of these models in a later post, but right now I want to leave you with this:

The woman who was honoured with the distinction of Business Woman of the Year, Mary Rushlow, built her career over 35 years. I can’t imagine that in that time she never struggled with any challenges. Rona Maynard, former editor of Chatelaine magazine, had her share of failures (her words) too. What separates a crisis from a screw-up is the ability to recognize you’re wrong, and beat your pride down enough to switch gears.

If I can get this at the beginning of my career, my failures will become opportunities. If organizations can get this, their failures will become opportunities. We all have so much to learn.

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