Tag Archives: Susan Henricks

Collaboration in Action

November 22, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Many forward-thinking employers emphasize collaboration. Siloed organizations—those with teams, departments, or groups that do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the organization—are increasingly seen as outmoded and inefficient. Collaboration is not just a feel-good philosophy—bottom lines and output benefit from collaborative environments.

At its root, collaboration is a commonsense tactic that simply means working together to produce, create, or execute something. Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and other business-savvy publications sing the praises of collaboration, and research indicates that women in particular excel in this area.

“I believe that collaboration is key to a successful business or operation,” says Susan Henricks, president and CEO at ICAN, a regional leader development focused nonprofit. “Women, the research shows, are generally better collaborators and more skilled at collaboration than men.”

ICAN offers programs, classes, and events that provide experiential learning. As a happy side effect, participating men and women develop stronger professional networks, which Henricks says often helps them achieve important real-world collaborative efforts.

“Collaboration is a skill we identified many years ago as a necessary, critical characteristic of successful leaders,” says Henricks. “All our programs, many of our speaker events, and certainly the women’s leadership conference focus on what it takes to collaborate and how to get better at collaborating, whether it’s with women, men, or a [coed] group.”

Jami Anders-Kemp, director at Step-Up Omaha!, a youth employment initiative of The Empowerment Network (TEN), also uses the power of collaboration at her organization, where she unites stakeholders from throughout the community. Though her role has expanded and evolved, she was initially hired to direct Omaha 360, a TEN program, where she aimed to build relationships and collaborations to reduce gun and gang violence in Omaha.

Jami Anders-Kemp

“My job was strategizing solutions at a high level and determining who needed to be at the table to address the issue, because we realized we needed to take a holistic approach,” says Anders-Kemp. “We also agreed that we can’t arrest our way out of this situation; a true solution involves many different strategies.”

For Omaha 360, Anders-Kemp says those strategies include enforcement, positive alternatives, re-entry and recovery, and court services, among others. She adds that in all of TEN’s efforts they also look at individuals’ needs at “a basic human level”— such as if the lights are on at home and if they have a job. When looking at a problem from so many angles, collaboration becomes essential to the process and Anders-Kemp brings together representatives from community organizations, OPD, OPS, the mayor’s office, the faith-based community, local business leaders, and others to facilitate action and change.

“With that range of strategies in place, you can see how important it is to ensure you have the right stakeholders at the table,” says Anders-Kemp, who employs similarly collaboration-based strategies when managing STEP-UP Omaha! and taking a major role in other TEN initiatives like Women for Peace, Omaha African-American Male Achievement Council, and Cradle to Career.

“It’s not necessarily that men don’t have this strength, but I think women have that desire to build relationships. And we’re often in environments where we’ve had to find ways to collaborate, whether it’s raising a family or doing business,” says Anders-Kemp. “That relationship piece is key for collaboration. All the strong women I know are good at coming together with that ‘it takes a village’ mentality.”

Certainly, collaboration can go wrong, but more often it goes right—especially for women. According to research from the Women’s Collaboration Project, there are at least five favorable or neutral experiences for every one negative collaborative experience, and 77 percent of respondents said they were “very likely” to employ collaboration again within the next 12 months.

So, what makes someone a good collaborator?

“The No. 1 key strength of an effective collaborator is that you’re not just out for yourself; you desire a good group outcome,” says Henricks. “No. 2 is having empathy, understanding, and willingness to consider other perspectives. Many leaders just don’t want to listen to others, and I really believe that if you’re not willing to listen then you can’t be a collaborator. Third, you must recognize situations where collaboration is needed, and I think women often recognize that faster than some men…the research in this area shows that. While there are certain keys to being collaborative, I also believe an individual can learn to be collaborative even if they aren’t organically collaborative.”

Henricks also stresses “whole-brain thinking,” or holistic team-building, an important focus at ICAN.

“You don’t want all creatives, all numbers people, or all strategic people,” Henricks says. “You need to take all of those different capabilities and include people who represent each set of knowledge, then you’ve got a whole-brain-thinking team. It’s a great way to set up a collaborative situation.”

Anders-Kemp agrees that good collaboration requires a holistic approach.

“There’s no one program or model that fits every need, so it’s crucial to bring the right people together and look at things from all different aspects to accelerate change or success,” she says.

“Everyone’s contributing a little bit, but collectively it makes a huge effect. It’s important to be honest about not being an expert in every area and being able to ask, ‘Who needs to be at this table?’ Particularly when we’re talking about people’s lives, young people, and violence prevention, it’s very important. We have to hear from everyone, put personal feelings aside, and bring everyone in. No one person has all the answers, but together we can always find the answers faster.”

Visit icanglobal.net and empoweromaha.com for more information.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Susan Hendricks

Susan Henricks

May 5, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0217_125/56

With decades of leadership experience at private and public companies—including First Data Corp. and RR Donnelley Corp. —Susan Henricks had established herself as a business leader on a global scale.

Then she began to contemplate how she could further encourage future generations of leaders. That’s when she joined the board of the Omaha-based Institute for Career Advancement Needs. ICAN named her CEO a few years later in May 2014, and Henricks hasn’t looked back.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing, because I have the opportunity to take what I learned over a 35-plus year career in various corporations and share that with others,” she says. “The one thing I was always passionate about was developing people. So, now I have an opportunity to do that in a broader way.”

ICAN provides leader development programs, custom services and events with a focus on developing inspired and authentic leaders who transform their organizations. The programs were originally created to advance women in business when ICAN was founded in 1981, but the growth of the organization now caters to all leaders in the workplace.

ICAN programs include Defining Leadership, Women’s Leadership Circles, the Speaker Series, 7x7x7, EVOLVE and a recently developed for-credit program called IMPACT. This new eight session, five month program builds leaders who manage higher performing teams with stronger strategic influence.

The largest event ICAN produces is the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, which draws 2,500+ attendees. This one-day insightful and intensive focus on leadership provides access to national thought leaders and leadership trends and transformations present in today’s workplace.

One important concept for women in the business world is balancing work and home, or as Henricks says “the work-life challenge.” ICAN’s 24th Annual conference will address this theme in 2017.

“This topic is really resonating with a lot of the organizations that send people to our conference,” Henricks says. “We purposefully did not use the word ‘balance’ because it implies that one can achieve balance when in reality true balance is not really achievable.”

How different generations and age cohorts look at the “work-life challenge” varies, says Henricks.

“Historically, work life challenges have been the responsibility of the woman. This has now changed to also include Corporate Organizations, Men and Millennials. For example: from a man’s perspective with elderly parents or young children,” she says. “Men want to participate more in their lives and are looking for more flexible work schedules. We’re also going to look at the work/life challenge from the standpoint of millennials. They want to do something they are passionate about. Unlike baby boomers who worked 12 hour days and didn’t have time for passion projects until retirement, millennials are saying, ‘I want to work, I want to work hard, but I also want my time.’ That’s a very different work structure.”

Whatever the generation, whatever the reasons for wanting to approach the work life challenge, Henricks and her team are making sure to provide guidance and assistance to both businesswomen and their organizations.

“In a lot of our programs, we focus on helping women and men develop their leadership voice, grow in their confidence, and their interrelational skills,” she says. “We are taking a specific role in that effort by creating active leaders who have the capacity to advance authenticity and intention in the workplace, and get more women in senior leadership.”

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