Oct 19, 2021

Who runs the world - Girls! We're raising our hands to the women redefining leadership

This September, Anouk + Hannah featured in a beautiful hardback book curated by the History of Parliament Trust which celebrates the 300th anniversary of the appointment of Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole. As well as (we must not forget) Her Majesty The Queen’s 95th birthday!! To say we were excited would be a serious understatement, we were grinning ear to ear. 

This got us thinking about what we could do to celebrate such an honourable milestone + of course, the only way we thought appropriate was to scream and shout about other incredible female-identifying leaders who are redefining leadership. And that’s exactly what we did. Over the course of the last few weeks, we have been speaking with female leaders from around the globe and it has been the most humbling + inspiring experience, period! 

We couldn’t be more proud of the beautiful women who shared their words of wisdom with us and we want to continue sharing these awe-inspiring conversations so they fall into the eyes of our future leaders.

In this piece, we have captured what we like to call ‘utter superbness’. So, sit back, relax, grab a hot drink or a vino and be prepared to soak up all this goodness.

*Disclaimer* We do not take responsibility for all the positive vibes generated by this article. This one goes out to all the ladies creating change and having an impact Every. Single. Day.

Mia Fenton “Now one for the ladies… Know your worth! Speaking as a woman who like many others has had ‘imposter syndrome’ moments, I would like to encourage all female professionals who aspire to become leaders to learn to respect themselves for what they know, and for the unique talent and skills they have. Don’t compare yourself to others, especially to your male counterparts. And don’t try to fit in, as this will stop you from standing out.”

Freya Hickman “If there's a little flame burning in your gut that's telling you, you want to make an impact (whatever it may be) but you're terrified and don't know where to start, that's okay! Take baby steps and do one small thing at a time to build your confidence. Over time all those things will add up and your confidence will build too! People will inevitably say things you don't want to hear, and it's okay to be upset about it - but look to learn from what they said too. There will be some important lessons that you can really grow from.”

Asha Harness (she/her) “Firstly, believe in yourself. The fact you want to lead is the best indication you will. Accept yourself. All of your strengths and weaknesses because you don't need to have it all. Lean into your strengths and build a team that complements your weaknesses.”

Michelle Raymond “You may not know everything there is to know, you may not have had all the experience that others have had, but what you do have, multiply it. I always say.... use what's in your hands. We ALL have a gift and it's your mission to find what that is.”

Jo Dalton “I spent many years trying and failing to fit into the old fashioned stereotype of what a leader should look like, always feeling I wasn’t good enough and must admit it was tough in the early years. I have now realised it is possible to lead with empathy and authenticity. Combining that with lifting, coaching and championing the people around you allows you to inspire and lead in ways you never thought possible.  Find your own unique leadership style, embrace it and let's continue to break the mould!”

Izzy Obeng “Start to build a community around yourself outside of your comfort zone. Don't be hesitant about telling your story. Take any opportunity that will involve public speaking, get involved in more entrepreneurial challenges at university, sign-up for networking events, consider hosting your own events – create a platform, start a podcast, share on YouTube – learn how to create content and engage others.”

Selin Yigitbasi-Ducker “Actively listen to your team when they’re sharing their thoughts - don’t think about something else or don’t multi-task while listening. Empower them to share their opinions openly, build a culture of feedback and vulnerability. You’re also human (although you might have superpowers) - acknowledge your own feelings and practice sharing them. Have deeper conversations, and don’t get defensive if you hear any negatives. Just focus on how you can keep improving. If you’re feeling down - take a deep breath, and don’t worry, you are ‘awesome’!”

Romanie Thomas “It's easy to be an arsehole. It's easy to be too soft. The trick with leadership is being compassionate but also firm and that's the line to try and tread.”

Vic Lloyd “Don’t forget to have fun! Startups are hard work and it’s very easy to get lost in all the day to day seriousness of achieving your goals. Forgetting to make time to celebrate your team's impact and doggedly trudging on with no rest or reward will leave everyone burnt out. We can find joy, playfulness and levity in getting there but we have to make a conscious effort. The commercial pressures of a business and our assumptions about how work 'should' be are strong and won't make this easy. But you'll thank yourself for it.  You have huge power as a leader in a cultural setting. Use it wisely.”

Anna Tsyupko “It's not you, it's Imposter syndrome - don't be afraid to show your vulnerability and exchange experiences with other (aspiring) leaders to normalise what you're going through.”

Emma Rees “The magic happens when you least expect it and times are tough. Stay focused and live your values every day so no matter what the outcome you can be proud that you stayed true to yourself. & All great leaders need a tribe so find yours, and you will be elevated.”

Qiaojia Li Lead because you want to give.”

Sara Fazlali “You are not alone, find the people you trust to confide in. Understand what kind of leader you are, what your styles are and what impact does that have on how you communicate. For example, if you are a "fight" character (freeze, fight, flight), appreciate that you may come across combative in your love of to-and-fro conversation, a freeze person may just need some space in the conversation to dwell, you haven't lost them.”

Helen Tanner “Take the first step. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, it will be all-consuming. Yes, it will be scrappy and unpredictable and uncomfortable at times. But it will be the best career decision you've ever made. And one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Even if you fail, you will learn tons about business and about yourself. And, hey, what if you succeed?!”

Natasha Foster “Someone once told me: "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're absolutely right" (an old Henry Ford quote) - I have always taken that as encouragement to believe in yourself and get things done!”

Sylvia Carrasco “Three words. Team, hard work and determination. Team because nobody, no matter how smart they are can do anything alone; hard-work because success doesn't fall from trees; determination because nothing and nobody should stop you from reaching your ambitions in life.”

Holly Stephens “Having the courage to start, and the determination to keep going. Starting a business is one of the biggest steps and when the going gets tough you have to be resilient, determined to keep going and persevere through the highs and lows."

Jules Robertson “Nothing good comes without hard work.”

Rachel Carrell “You don't need to change yourself to be a leader, you just need to develop your style. My leadership style is all about facilitating and serving the people in my team. I spend half my day telling people they're doing a great job and asking how I can help. I think this style of leadership doesn't get as much attention as the hard-arsed shouty 'You're Fired' style, but it can be really effective. There are so many different forms of leadership, anyone can find the style that suits them.”

Eleanor Ford “I think leadership is a balance of creating spaces of challenge and safety. It is vital for those you work with to know that coming into your orbit stabilises uncertainty and helps to offer ways safely through. Yet your leadership has to bring enough challenge, urgency and accountability - because they know the work you are all doing matters.”

Chisom Udeze “Be curious. Be a life-long learner. Continue to challenge the status quo and your assumptions. Be fearless. Leadership requires humility and authenticity. I believe that to lead, you must be able to follow. Being in a position of authority or in a management position does not necessarily make you a leader. Leadership is earned, so it is important to continue to do the work.”

Aisha Suleiman “Know yourself. There is no growth without self-awareness.”

Written by Unleashed's Holly Moon.

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