I was introduced to Ginger Public Speaking through Sheikah Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, the niece of the ruler of Kuwait. The Sheikah, who founded several magazines and nonprofits, is now launching a drama therapy initiative in refugee camps in the Middle East for women who have survived trauma. I’m hoping to travel to see it. As we explored the story, she told me that her confidence to launch grew through a London-based company called Ginger Public Speaking, founded by Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, which helps develop leadership through public speaking. Carlinde Kallianiotis is launching an American version of the program, with an ownership stake in the New York City-based and online operation. Here, she outlines some internal work for aspiring women leaders. – Elizabeth MacBride, editor, Times of Entrepreneurship.
There’s an interesting pattern when it comes to female leaders. There’s no shortage of brilliant women with inspiring ideas, insights and visions and the desire to lead change. Yet time after time, something holds them back from stepping into their full leadership potential.
I’ve witnessed this repeatedly over a decade of working in senior leadership positions, connecting with other female leaders and listening to their stories, aspirations and challenges. The ‘KPMG women leadership study’* reflects a similar picture. Six in 10 of the respondents want to be a senior leader and more than half aspire to serve on a board. At the same time, 56% are hesitant about taking steps toward leadership roles and 59% indicate they sometimes find it hard to see themselves as a leader.
So how can aspiring female leaders realize their potential and lead from a position of influence? Here are five areas to consider.
1. Decide what do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now.
We become leaders when we have clear direction and inspire others to contribute towards the goals we set out. The trouble is, we are often so busy with daily tasks, we forget to take time to dream about the future, strategize and look at the big picture. We tend to think someone will recognize our hard work and reward us for it. Sadly, the reality is different and we need to take our leadership future into our own hands.
The first step is to uncover your own personal vision by thinking about your purpose and the changes you would like to see in this world. Once you are clearer about your vision, you can make decisions that are aligned with your dreams and communicate with more impact.
2. Be genuine.
There’s a common perception that we need to act a certain way to be successful leaders. We can find ourselves trying to be like others, which drives us away from who we really are. The reality is, we become trusted leaders when we have a high sense of self-awareness, are comfortable being ourselves and are able to adjust our style based on the situation and audience. When we accept ourselves for who we are, we can uncover our uniqueness and use it to stand out as a leader.
You’ll gain more confidence when you focus on what you do well instead of what you’re not good at. As you relax more, your potential will be unlocked further and qualities and skills will become more visible. Many people find this challenging at first but building on your strengths and individuality is key to authentic leadership.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
We grow as leaders by continuously developing ourselves and learning from our experiences. Growth happens best when we dare to step outside our comfort zone and take risks by trying new things and placing ourselves in new situations.
This requires courage and the more you go beyond your limits, the more comfortable you’ll become being uncomfortable. As long as you allow yourself and others to make mistakes and don’t let the fear of rejection take over, you’ll be fine. Think about what you want to accomplish and why it’s so important, and remember we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take!
4. Voice your vision.
Sharing your vision allows others to know about your great ideas and become inspired and motivated to support your cause. Voicing your vision is where you start to actively lead others to create the changes you want to make.
It means ignoring the little voice in your head that worries about what others think, and speaking up even when your ideas are not perfect or fully formed. Practice sharing your vision with people you trust and see what resonates most. Focus on your purpose and sharing your story, as this will emotionally connect people with your vision and make it more memorable.
5. Be a trailblazer.
As we unlock our leadership potential and show our unique qualities to the world, we pave a path for others to be themselves and step up as leaders. Our job is bigger than just becoming a leader for ourselves, we have the opportunity to become an example and inspire others to take risks and become more visible themselves. Guided by an altruistic motivation our efforts become more worthwhile and our feelings of fear or discomfort reduce.
Research shows* women learn the most important lessons about leadership from other women and the majority of women think access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their careers. As a leader, you can empower others by mentoring, supporting, and growing other leaders, giving them opportunities to practice, become more comfortable in their own skin and step into their leadership potential.
Carlinde Kallianiotis is Ginger’s US Managing Director and can be reached at [email protected].