As International Women’s Day fast approaches, Yahoo Finance hears from eight female executives on the best advice they’ve ever received.
‘Surround yourself with the right people’
Jahney Smith, Co-Founder and CMO, KIXXFIT
Surround yourself with the right people. At the beginning you won’t have all the answers so listen to leaders who have already taken the journey, ask them questions, start a conversation and learn from them.
These conversations will allow you to grow faster and foresee obstacles, allowing you to mitigate them before it’s too late.
Also make sure you enjoy the ride, being a leader doesn’t mean you have to look and/or act a certain way.
Be yourself and do it your way, with your values and integrity leading you. If you’re having fun and enjoying the grind you’ll know you are on the right track.
‘Encourage, inspire and bring out the best in others’
Monica Limanto, CEO and co-founder of Petsy
Being a great leader is not only about possessing the right experience and leadership skills, but also about possessing fundamental beliefs and character that help to encourage, inspire and bring out the best in others.
If becoming a leader is something you’re striving towards, remember that what counts is doing what you can with what you have, not where you came from or what happens to you. Learning what to do (and what not to do) comes from jumping in the deep end, learning from mistakes and always moving forward.
Never stop learning and remember that any obstacle can be used as an opportunity to take initiative, lead by example and show others what you and your team are capable of.
Georgina Drury, CEO and founder of Springday
Your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing is crucial to your success. To stay resilient, especially through hard times, you need to:
Be authentic. Believe in yourself, and be the change you seek in others and in the larger world.
Look after your body. Eat well, exercise daily and get 7-8 hours sleep a night.
Celebrate your successes. Many women concentrate on what needs to be done and ignore their triumphs along the way.
Do something you love, every day, and do it with your devices switched off
Give back. Volunteer, mentor – it’ll benefit others and you as well.
‘Believe in yourself’
Anna Hawter, COO at Lumi
Firstly, surround yourself with inspiring people who constantly stretch and challenge you. Look for those who share the same passion as you, but have different skill sets and a different way of seeing the world.
My second and arguably most important piece of advice is to believe in yourself. Females in particular are often quick to self-doubt and self-criticise, however we should never forget all that we have accomplished. With hard work, persistence, and a strong sense of self belief, we will continue to smash the glass ceiling and fulfil the potential that is inside all of us.
‘EQ is hugely underrrated’
Georgia Thomas, Head of Marketing at Beem It
Emotional intelligence, or ‘EQ’ skills are still hugely underrated and misunderstood in so many businesses. I believe having broader perspectives and being open to understanding how your colleagues or stakeholders may be feeling or are pressured from outside of their internal framework is critical to creating strong, trustworthy teams that will demonstrably lead to more successful outcomes.
Everybody has bad days, sick friends or family members, or are going through something personal; and in our evermore connected world, external pressures cannot and should not be left out of the office. It’s important for leaders in this day and age to feel confident in backing each others’ differences and strengths, and watch how shared bonds will lead to happier teams and better solutions for your business.
‘Diversity starts with hiring diversely’
Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO at Coviu
Diversity starts with hiring diversely. Bias exists within our society and unfortunately it’s so ingrained that you often won’t notice it creeping up on you, no matter what gender. Even as a woman, when I review a CV, I put myself into the mental state of reading a CV twice. Once I’ll read it all the way through and if it’s by a woman, I’ll reread it considering what I would think about them if the CV came from a man. It’s interesting to observe yourself as you go through this exercise - it’s a great trick to address your own biases.
Diversity continues through your company culture. We’re lucky to live in a diverse, multicultural country, and it’s clear to me that the best ideas and work come from teams with different backgrounds. But we have to encourage acceptance of different cultures. What you can do as a leader is to encourage curiosity and to not tolerate poor behaviour. I like to encourage curiosity about other cultures particularly during company Off-Sites by having everyone in the team share something about their culture with the team. It’s a great ice-breaker.
My final piece of advice is a bit more general: don’t be too scared of making mistakes. Some of the best business models have come off the back of failure. When you know what doesn't work, you’re one step closer to finding something that does, as long as you treat it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
‘Have a focused mindset’
Caroline Bowler, BTC Markets CEO
Success is driven by having a focused mindset. In my view, we’re all self-employed and in control of our career trajectory. We simply rent our skills and time to other firms. Starting each day with that mindset will go a long way in taking the power and control back into our hands. Of course, this isn’t always easy, especially when you’re just starting out or when your career plan takes a big set-back.
It takes grit and determination to be a good leader. You need to have thick skin and not be afraid to make mistakes - I’ve learned from plenty! Your mindset is what will spur on your hustle, and you’ll need a strong amount of hustle to make it!
‘Don’t underestimate your voice’
Rachel Wye, General Manager at Good Design Australia
Don’t underestimate your ability/voice/perspective. I think it can be easy or natural to default to those that have been in the game longer and have more experience – which is great and make sure you absorb all that knowledge but also remember that your fresh / different perspective could be very valuable and relevant. So don’t sit on an idea or a suggestion.
Ask the questions. Even if you think it’s a silly question, or something you should know, ask it. It might be a question no one else has considered or change the perspective or push a boundary. And even if it’s not the right question it will still improve your understanding and help you to grow.
Lead in your own way, there is a huge shift towards social business now, challenging the traditional profit focused model into a profit / purpose model. The leaders we have now will not be the leaders we have in 5/10/20 years. The incoming generation are more conscious of creating a planet that they want to be part of, not just to greenwash but to make real change for a better future. Soak up all the knowledge of the previous and current leaders but don’t be shy in taking your own approach to success and progress with you in creating and forging a new path for a new type of business leadership where success isn’t only profit but also purpose.
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