Before we begin, lets make sure that we are on the same page about what leadership is. There are many leadership theories, models and frameworks. Most of them share the view that good leadership is underpinned by good character and positive relationships and is, at its core, about influencing both people and outcomes. A person’s purpose, beliefs, values, behaviour and the way they interact with and value others therefore, define how they are perceived as a leader. Consider these contemporary examples: Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen, Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg.
So if leadership is about character, about who we are and how we go about influencing in the world, why don’t more women confidently step out and acknowledge themselves as the leaders that they are? Why aren’t more women acknowledged for their leadership? There are after all, a myriad of women in the world who answer to this definition of leadership. I think the answer is multifaceted and complex and an important beginning, is for us to develop an understanding of where women are in the current leadership paradigm.
Women and Leadership: Where are we?
Most of the current published experts on leadership are men, with the exception of a few notable women (think Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington, Brene Brown, Oprah). Add to this, that most of the contemporary writings about leadership describe it within the context of a formal and defined management role in the work context and we begin to see a narrow paradigm emerging. This is pertinent because women tend to influence across the community as well as at work, often when they are not in a designated leadership role.
Women in fact, are quietly leading everywhere:
Due to the narrow paradigm within which contemporary writing on leadership sits, this breadth of where and how women lead, outside of the work context is often unrecognized both by women themselves, by their employers and by those they influence.
In my work with women as a leadership coach, I often find that a low level of confidence around leadership identity and capability can affect a women’s capacity to lead themselves across all aspects of their lives. It can impact their self-perception and their vision of what’s possible in life and work. As a result, rather than set great leadership goals and achieve enriching outcomes across their lives, women can let life just happen. The good news is, I have noticed that when women begin to understand the context of women in leadership at work, at home and in community they are better able to connect with and acknowledge their inner leader and take charge of their future in a positive way.
So if you are a woman, I invite you now, to spend a few moments, using the definition of leadership here and the examples of where women lead, to identify the areas in which you currently are a leader. If you are a man, pass this to a woman friend or family member. When you are done, share, acknowledge and celebrate your leadership and the leadership of other women with other women. It’s time to change the conversation.
Let me know if you need any help with that
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Strengths Finder Assessment and Feedback
Doing Strengths Finder coaching has enabled me to see how I can make the most of my natural abilities. The test itself outlined 5 particular strengths but it was the coaching that meant I now know how to actually utilise this information. It is going to help me a great deal when it comes to my academic life and in particular how I can study in the most effective way. The coaching helps access the key to knowing your strengths and Deb has helped me devise a plan of how I can move forward with these skills. Her work with me has been vital to the Strengths Finder process and I would absolutely recommend the coaching as vital to finding your strengths.
Family Harmony Workshop for Parents
The course gave a great framework to build a more harmonious family - I find it difficult to explain to my teens why I don't like their behaviour but with this toolkit I am able to articulate this easily and less emotionally, resulting in better communication and a less charged atmosphere. Thanks Deb for the lifeline
Team Building Facilitation and Coaching
As a new Manager to a newly formed team of eight staff, I engaged Deb to facilitate our first team planning day. The objective of the day was to identify a shared vision and to start a process of strategic planning for the next three years. The day was a great success and set the team up with greater clarity of purpose and a framework for future planning.
Deb demonstrated a great understanding of the team, its context and challenges. This was due to her careful and thorough planning and reflections prior to the day. Deb managed the varying levels of engagement among the team exceptionally well; she did this with the establishment of clear ground rules and a sense of trust and respect. Deb listened actively and regularly questioned for greater clarity before reflecting on the team’s contributions.
We ended the day with a clear vision that was shared and in which all members felt they had an investment. Deb followed up regularly after the session to check in on progress and to provide advice about next steps. We were extremely lucky to have been able to work with Deb at this important stage of the team’s development and I would not hesitate for a moment in engaging Deb again.
Angela Hehir, (Manager)
Business Leadership Coaching
Debra's help in getting me to focus on the strategic direction of my business and my work-life priorities has proven invaluable. She has the ability to ask simple questions to create greater clarity and focus in both work and personal goals. Debra is a great listener, follows up on her clients and creates a great support base for her clients through recommending network groups, courses and reading material. For those who want a leadership coach that goes that extra mile,
I highly recommend her.
Yvette Audet, Sport & Recreation Management Services
360 degree feedback and Mentoring
Debra provided feedback on my 360 leader/manger profile. I have taken this style of development tool on two prior occasions and found the feedback underwhelming. This time I found that Debra has an empathetic and approachable feedback style. Previously I have felt very much that I was being placed in a stereotypical box.
I liked Debra,s approach and understood more that the outcomes of the survey reflect a favored management leadership style and this could be flexible. Debra is able to draw out your thoughts on how you feel others perceive you rather than preaching which was a great attribute.
We talked about the outcomes and the way forward and I was left with a comfortable feeling that I could achieve my higher aims. Debra provided positive feedback and kept in contact after the initial interview. Her trouble in organizing some key topic papers and net links was commendable. I hope very much to take Debra up on some future mentoring and would highly recommend Debra’s leadership skill set to you.
Professor Tim Lyons, Newcastle
Concrete personal career goals
I have appreciated my coaching sessions this year more than I can say. Deb has challenged me at every turn which I have loved, making me work hard to find my own solutions during an extremely professionally challenging year. This has been extremely satisfying.
I also now have concrete personal career goals and a plan on how to get there – non existent when I started coaching and really not something I consciously thought I needed. As a consequence I feel more focused and motivated for the next year and beyond.
Finally I would have to say my coaching session with Deb have been an absolute lifeline for me this year, keeping me on track, helping me to grow and learn and ultimately make a monumental shift in my approach and style as a leader. I am very grateful for her time, patience, humor and professionalism – I am certainly am better leader thanks to coaching with Deb.
Bernadette Hollis, Sydney