Become an Enlightened Leader 

by Doug Bruhnke

Enlightenment: Having or showing a rational, modern and well-informed outlook.

The world is changing rapidly, so being enlightened to the present and future is essential. Eighty-five percent of new business opportunities in the next five years will be outside the U.S. The business world is full of people rich in culture and diversity. Does your business team have the diversity of the markets you intend to serve? Almost certainly NOT. Women make up half the population, yet they account for less than 10 percent of the leaders on U.S. company boards, and 7 percent of technology industry executives in the Bay Area. These facts are despite the data that shows companies with more gender balance are more successful.

What’s holding companies back? History. Momentum. Fear. Fear by women of retribution for speaking out against unfairness and abuse. Fear by men that by opening the door to women in the workplace, they will be left out. Now, in the past couple of months, a claim by one woman against a movie studio producer for abusing his position of power has turned into two claims, and three and many more — and dozens of executives have been fired for abusing their positions of power against women.

The business reality is, the world is changing rapidly, and women are gaining more and more powerful positions. And if your business team doesn’t reflect the markets in which you plan to grow five years from now, you’re at a disadvantage to companies who are. And so the time for action is NOW. Twenty years ago, I fought and eventually was able to shift an OL (office lady-secretary/admin) in my company’s Osaka office to phone sales. The office leader had been arguing for many months that “no one at Toyota will ever buy from a woman.” Wrong! Once she started, she became our best salesperson!

Today, Enlightened Leaders must work in a more dynamic world where the vast majority of opportunities are in another metro and country — requiring that each leadership team reach beyond its comfort zone to come up with new approaches that meet the needs of new markets. Teams that have a global mindset and their eyes on diversity and gender balance WIN in today’s world.

Too many times we see C-levels NOT fully supporting their team’s development, failing to expose more of the team to international issues. It’s a priority! This is an old problem, and I remember when I started 30 years ago, even multi-nationals struggled on this — isolating global knowledge to a few employees. Now, SMEs wrestle with this issue — and, honestly, not too successfully. So, at Global Chamber®, we’ve made it VERY EASY for the C-suite to share global leadership development with its team.

Learn more about the Global Chamber® Enlightened Leaders initiative that offers executives events, mentorship and peer-to-peer advisory. It’s for women AND men to better navigate the challenges and gain from the opportunities. NOW IS THE TIME to act — to accelerate growth and success in 2018. Be part of the solution and capture new opportunities. Contact me at

Doug Bruhnke is CEO and founder of Global Chamber.

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