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Blog – A Bold Step into the Leadership Mindset

By Raheela Rehman

Women have always possessed the cards in knowledge-sharing, network building, collaborative work practises, flexibility and empathy. These are some of the key components, which are stacked in their favour when it comes to leadership. As we step into the new year, these are now non-negotiable in developing the mindset of a good leader.

Closely acquainted with 2020, the year brought with it a plethora of examples of good leadership. Some are widely known in the greater successful-management to contain the Coronavirus in female-led countries. (As an interesting side note, only 10% of the world’s head of state or government are women – Jan 2021.) This well-examined insight has shown women’s leadership as more democratic, collaborative, communications-led and connective.

It was through much coaching and development, Naily Makangu (Founder and Business Transformation Consultant at Athena Leaders) found her voice. Naily (the Mary Poppins of Business Transformation), the workshop facilitator, started her professional career as a Software Engineer. Initially, she faced contradictive comments about her ability, that created a negative voice in her head. As a result she shared new ideas less often. Her route of self-analysis led to the change in her behaviour and examine the notion of “What if I do something different?”. It was the watershed moment most in transit to leadership are introduced to – You do not need permission to make your change.

It is self-examination which spotlights the challenges you face, and the beliefs that are closely held. Without this closer inspection, you cannot move forward. It also highlighted that a manager does not intrinsically make for a leader. And thus, this raises the fundamental question, what defines a leader?

Leaders will purposefully align their communication to fit the organisational focus. They will convey the organisation or project position in line with team motivations and individuals’ goals. They will encourage people to think differently. Their authentic style and influence will allow people choice, and one that creates an environment for ideas to germinate. It is then clear, people are encouraged to think about leadership before they consider management. Successes are borne from clear direction with strong leadership at the helm.

Successes are borne from clear direction with strong leadership at the helm

The workshop breakout sessions and interactive polls discussed a number of questions with group participation in drawing the following conclusions:

  • What do you struggle with the most as a female leader?

Being heard, Support from senior levels, Finding the balance to appear strong – but not bossy, Vulnerability, As my role becomes more senior-I have become quieter, Confidence.

  • What would you need to happen or change for you to feel ‘good’ enough?

Be objective, Confidence in my skills, Enough preparation, Hone communications skills and creativity, Look for external validation, Positive feedback or confirmation, Keep skills refreshed.

The group exercise looked at examples of “self-sabotage” that could happen due to limiting beliefs. These included when trialling new research experiments in the laboratory, that may not succeed in the first instance, as a failure. The confident self-belief can acknowledge that trial and error is a part of the research learning process. Other examples included procrastination on decision making, due to the need to ensure the right decision is made.

The resounding message was that if in doubt, learn the skills you need and springboard your self-doubt to “Can-do”. Allow yourself to have a go at new things. Leading includes asking for help when you need it. Naily Makangu provided her Six-Step Action plan to instigate change and move to the next level. The pace of change in the workplace shows no abatement, and effective leadership will continue to evolve.

Naily advised putting into practise your leadership skills by joining organisations such as CamAWiSE. These will give you the space in which to experiment and practise your skills. CamAWiSE is seeking new Steering Committee (SC) members – find out more here on the role of a SC member.

To take the next step, join a the CamAWiSE Mentoring Programme 2021 as a Mentor or Mentee. The Programme is now open – find out more.

CamAWiSE would like to thank Naily Makangu for her inspiring workshop.
To discuss leadership and more, connect with Naily Makangu on LinkedIn.

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