Teamwork, Inclusive Leadership & Embracing Change - in conversation with Nicola “Nikki” Fraser

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Image from Unsplash by Nick Fewings

The phrase ‘the only constant changes’ has been used and re-used all over the world. However, its authenticity and reality have not lost their value. It’s true, the only constant changes. This statement holds true for everything in life, especially business.

If businesses do not adapt to change, they lose their competitive edge. Change needs to happen — to evolve, grow, and improve. The only way to overcome change is to truly experience it, and embrace it.

Nikki Fraser, a navigator of profound change and Managing Partner at Next Key Services is here to share with us her views and experience with change and leadership in business.

Your past professional experiences have led you to be a solutions-oriented expert, inclusive leader, and navigator of profound change. If you were to serve on a company board, how would you effectively bring forth these skills and values?

“I think inclusive leadership is all about sharing a story in a way that everyone will understand it and promoting teamwork. Some people hoard their expertise due to the fear of being replaced. They hold back from educating others on their expertise due to that same fear. However, it is crucial to let people in and share your ideas. That has always been a part of my leadership journey. I aim to give my client the right tools and understanding to make decisions and hence am able to build a relationship with trust and respect.

“From a board perspective I can see why these conversations can be challenging — it’s due to the diversity of thought. Questioning is good, but it must be done respectfully so that when posed with a question, you can effectively convey your story. This way people are willing to share ideas, their walls won’t go up and they won’t get defensive. On a board, it’s crucial to reach that stage in order to do what is right for the business. In such a situation, a lot of the solution depends on the company culture. The board needs to be able to represent that culture and mission.

“Personally, I have been exposed to boards since I was in my early 20s, when I started my career in public accounting, especially as a part of auditing committees. This was when an external auditor would come and present to all of us. Since then, I have always admired and appreciated the bigger picture, from the perspective of risk and strategy and understanding the interconnection between the two. It has been my long term goal to serve on a board, my whole career has been leading up to this.

“When it comes to navigating change, I have a simple view toward that. One must embrace change, not fight it. Using it as an opportunity to strive toward the greater good of the company — that’s what should be done. A lot of change we don’t have control over. From the aboard perspective again, it’s about being able to embrace and to some extent, control it. Being very solution-oriented myself, I think peeling back the layers of data in an issue (related to change) and coming to a solution from the perspective of a financial storyteller — that’s what I would do.

“By financial storyteller, I mean being able to put the data into context, like a story. Not everyone on the board is financially literate, so statistics may not always resonate with them. But when explained in the form of a story, each member can bring value by adding their expertise to the financial aspect. That’s the beauty of a board — everyone is an expert in their own field and hence can govern effectively together. Every member brings a unique set of skills and it’s important to celebrate that diversity. That being said, everyone should stay in their own lane of expertise and not try and out-shine the others. That can often happen. All board members should be storytellers in their own expertise, and tell the final story with each one’s intertwined.”

It’s nice how you tied that all together. Thanks, Nikki.

Insights from Leaders is a platform where people with a vision can share their ideas and insights.

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