Developing myself is an ongoing process. I have to recognize and overcome my fears.
When my company decided to change our brand name, and took the first step down this road, I was scared. It really took me out of my comfort zone. But it also created a unique opportunity to co-create with the entire organization. There was no better moment to convince everybody that we had to operate as one big family.
Staying true to myself and my values, listening to my strong intuition, and being open and transparent, were and still are important female leadership qualities that proved to be of great use in this matter.
Now, workers give speeches and presentations, suggest out-of-the-box solutions, and solve their problems together in a better and quicker way than I could have ever suggested. I paint the big picture and the employees shape it. So it becomes their way of doing things.
It’s about doing everyday things a little differently—making conscious choices.
On Getting People to Know Who You Are and What You Can Do
I always look for challenges and inspiration—inside and outside the company.
Managing a big transformation as I’ve done (new vision, new brand, new product range, etc.) means learning a lot. I share these experiences to inspire others.
In my company, I try to get rid of the so-called “excuse culture.” It’s not your colleague, not your boss, not somebody outside the company, it’s about YOU. And so I give others the possibility to develop themselves, and the chance to shine.
The advice I would give others is this: Get to know yourself and stay true to who you really are and what you like best. Step up and take the opportunities you get. Share your enthusiasm and personal story with others, for that’s what people remember best.
On Knowing When and How to Make the Next Career Leap
I always want to add value. So if I see a chance to do that, I take the leap.
I have an international career. When you work and live in different countries, you need to adapt, learn quickly, and organize well.
I also need to help my children adapt and feel at home. So, being very flexible is a valuable talent.
Together with the owners of the organization, I had the chance to shape our corporate vision. As a result of this, I raised many initiatives to stimulate personal development, such as sports, gardening, and new ways of coaching. In my career, I wanted opportunities to shine. So now I know when to step aside in order to give other people room and chances to stand out.
My wish is that everybody in our organization makes conscious choices. For their own benefit, for the benefit of our customers, and to make the world just a little bit better.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Know who you really are. Be an authentic servant leader.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I have three:
• The owners of Manutan, by putting their trust in me and making the world a better place
• My colleagues, because they always try to do everyday things a little bit different and better
• Nelson Mandela, by being a positive servant leader
On Facing Challenges
My biggest challenge is to break through prejudiced opinions. If you do what you’ve done, you’ll get what you’ve got. But lots of people expect you to “just do your work” or be “politically correct.” It’s not easy to take these walls down. I encourage my people to set themselves free and discover other ways of getting things done.
A short example: A man worked his whole life to become one of our main managers. I sensed his strength was in an entirely different area. When I told him that, his whole world collapsed. But after a lot of intimate conversations, a new world opened up. He was no longer controlled by fear, but freed by opportunities. In his new position, he is of much more value to the company and happier than ever.
Ghislaine’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Don’t just do. Know yourself and make conscious choices!