6 December 2021
We’ve spoken to one of our She Leads Diploma facilitators, Angie Ford, and asked her to give us some leadership advice, talk about her leadership journey, and what she is most excited about for the 2022 She Leads Diploma in Management and Leadership.
Over the years, what do you think has changed with leadership and what would you suggest that people should do going forward?
I see two opposing things happening. Leaders are either being more controlling and worried about covering their mistakes, whilst other leaders are beginning to understand the connection between authenticity and healthy culture with productivity and long term results.
Moving forward I suggest investing in training and support that helps people confidently develop and nurture honest and real conversations in their leadership.
What do you think is an essential skill or aspect that all people in leadership should have?
Gosh. Where to begin.
Decisiveness: because there are so many decisions in leadership, sometimes with limited information. And people are looking to you to decide in a considered and confident way.
Getting good at being wrong: cultivating this skill is about cultivating an open mind, focusing on the mission of the organisation and uncoupling your self-worth from outcomes. Of course it feels good to do well, but when self-worth and outcomes are coupled together, it can distract your process, suppress learning and healthy conversations because things become personal.
Listening: the skill of listening is concentration. Many people find it hard to slow down and really listen. Others don´t like silence and prefer to talk and feel they are right, rather than listen to understand.
Honesty: honesty is powerful and often misunderstood. When people blame and shame rather than own their bit, the focus on the vision is lost and culture and productivity shut down. On the flip side, when people dismiss their own feelings or opinions to be “nice” or just keep the peace, the same thing happens. Honest conversations create permission to change and grow without shame.
Enthusiasm: it´s so easy to focus on what´s not working, but it doesn´t motivate people. We often lose our enthusiasm when we don´t feel good in ourselves. It takes effort to take responsibility for your own happiness. It requires boundaries to keep what is sacred for you in play (health, family, creative pursuits, sport etc). Daily decisions to nurture what gives you energy pays off. People love to be seen and understood for what they are good at. Your enthusiasm helps you do this regularly. Highlight what people do well, and make it real – don´t blow smoke up people´s arses or do it to get them to like you. This builds genuine rapport and relationships, which makes it easier to navigate harder conversations when things go wrong.
Consistency: have a deliberate space (coaching, mentor, friends etc) to debrief, reset yourself and organise your own thoughts and feelings. Regularly ground yourself so you can be consistent with your values. Unpredictable behaviour creates insecure, wobbly relationships – even with yourself. When you are consistent, you feel better, and more people will want to follow you because they feel safe with you too.
OK – there´s a few more than one. These are bold, raw and vulnerable states to be in.
What do you think is one thing that people tend to forget when they’re years into their leadership journey, and what is a reminder you would give to them?
Nurture a beginners mind and a childlike sense of fascination, no matter how many years of experience you have. Cultivate the humility to challenge your own blind spots and biases. As time passes, it´s normal to feel stuck in our ways and feel like it´s too hard or embarrassing to change ourselves. You have permission to change and grow no matter what stage of your leadership you are at.
A good way can be to listen to people who have just arrived in your company. In the first 3 months of their job, they will see more nuance than anyone else. They will have fresh eyes to what others have attenuated.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to yourself when you first started your leadership journey?
Trust your inner voice. It´s always right, even if it´s just right for you and your capacity at that time, that´s important. It will keep you safe and bold. You have time to learn and grow into skills and techniques, but it´s a struggle when you can´t even hear yourself.
What’s one thing you would say to people trying to start their leadership journey but don’t know where to start?
You know more than you realise, stop telling yourself you don´t know how to lead and start telling yourself you´re ready and willing to start and learn.
What’s your advice to women and non-binary people who are hesitant to take on further training and education courses due to other commitments?
I understand that hesitation. Pause to decide for yourself. Are those daily commitments what you really value? If so – keep doing them and feel good about it. Or do you want to train and develop your voice and leadership? If so – it´s time to decide what you will de-commit from to make space for your training. This first pause to choose consciously for yourself, is an act of self-leadership. It´s not easy stepping into a conversation where you may have previously felt unwelcome or experienced shame. For me, this is what also makes my own leadership training even more important. I want to live in a world where values of respect and inclusion drive conversation and creativity. Sometimes I need to rest from the pain in the journey, other times it calls me forth to grow into a stronger, more honest version of me. Finally – whatever you choose, I applaud that you are even considering it. It is a sign that you are ready for something to change and ready to lead yourself in some way towards that.
What are you excited about for the 2022 She Leads Diploma in Leadership and Management?
I love seeing the voices and confidence of the participants burst through. I love hearing about the ripple effect this confidence creates at their place of work and home. I´m excited for more of this in 2022.
The She Leads Diploma of Leadership and Management builds upon a traditional Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420) by acknowledging and addressing the perspectives, challenges and opportunities for women and non-binary people in leadership.
Through the course, you will have the opportunity to gain the best-practice skills, theoretical knowledge, and networks to accelerate your leadership journey, in a safe and supportive environment.
With exciting and enlightening panels and experienced facilitators, you will learn your own authentic leadership style, which will set you up for success in whatever sector or role you want to pursue.
To find out more, register to our free virtual She Leads Diploma information session that’s on Wednesday 15 December, 6-7pm.
Our next intake starts on 15 February 2022.