Diversity & Inclusivity Keys to New Leadership: Sunny Stout-Rostron

From sunny California, via London and Paris, and with a formidable array of degrees ranging from Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, through the Universities of Portsmouth, Sussex and Middelsex (DProf, Executive Coaching from the last-mentioned), to South Africa, Dr Sunny Stout-Rostron has a deep and wide understanding of leadership and the profession of coaching executive leaders. She is based in Cape Town and has an office in Johannesburg.

Sunny coaches at senior executive and board level, with a wide range of experience in leadership development and business strategy. With 25 years’ international experience as an executive coach, working with executive leaders and their teams, Sunny believes there’s a strong link between emotional intelligence and business results.

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Is a New Style of Leadership Needed for the Digital Age?

Leaders today need adaptability:

  • to understand the tech world
  • to understand the cultures of difference age groups

Between Millennials and Baby Boomers, basic assumptions are completely different, requiring a different type of leadership.

On South Africa, Leadership and Coaching

An experiment in democracy, “coming out of a very violent history, which had a soft landing…Mandela.”

What’s happened in the workplace is that the diversity is extraordinary. 11 official languages, 12-13 spoken.

And cultural differences.

“You have tribal culture, you have mixed race culture, you have Afrikaans culture, you have South African English culture.”

Then there is the difference between the metropolitan areas and the country areas.

Another key difference: individualistic culture (Western) and collective culture (African).

Religious tolerance: South Africa is a faith-based country and that comes into the workplace.

Very patriarchal society: gender diversity a particular challenge.

Individualism vs Team Culture

In the corporate world, there is a lot of team-based work and individuals, including quite talented ones and potential leaders, can get “lost”.

In smaller, entrepreneurial companies, there is more opportunity to provide scope for individual talent.

Coaching in South Africa

Mentoring is part of how things are done in the broader society, especially for males. The case still has to be made for coaching.

Sunny’s experience is that where there is no buy-in for coaching, that is where the top level is not being coached.

“It’s almost like you have to have success in order to prove it (the value of coaching), but you can’t get success if your senior leaders aren’t behind you. So it’s a bit of a Catch 22.”

Coaching Millennials

Boomers, because of their own life/cultural experiences, are “beautifully place to work with Millennials”, wanting to do it their way (just as the Boomers wanted to do it their way).

Be open minded to who the people are.

  • They want to be understood
  • They do see things differently
  • They’re very individualistic
  • They have a different way of operating and being

The Recurring Question

I asked Sunny the “What keeps business leaders awake at night” question I regularly ask in these conversations.

There are some great observations and advice for leaders in her response. Especially about understanding and acting upon the fact that, to deal with conflict in the workplace, leaders need to be aware of and address the problem of lack of inclusivity.

“Diversity is all about inclusivity and exclusivity.”

Contact Details

You can contact Sunny via the website – http://www.ssra.biz

Or via her email – sunny@ssra.biz

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from Coachville.com and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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