Edwina McQueen

Be Yourself – Break the Bias!

On this #InternationalWomensDay, I want to #breakthebias by sharing a little of my leadership journey.

When I started out in my corporate leadership career some 30 odd years ago, I was working in a male dominated sector, where female leaders were in the minority.  The corporate sector and women in leadership roles have come a long way but there is still more to be done, especially in technology and construction and those sectors which are traditionally male dominated.  I was horrified to read an article from LeanIn and McKinsey that 60% of women experience micro aggression at work and that women of colour, LGTB+ women and women with disabilities face more acute bias.  And less than half have spoken about it!

Having the confidence to be brave, speak up and take risks helped me in my career but I know this isn’t easy especially if you lack confidence and want to fit in.  I was once called a ‘Petticoat Manager’ – wouldn’t get away with this now! And a ‘Maverick’!  I have pondered long and hard about what this meant, was I a maverick leader, was there even such a thing?   I wasn’t a rule breaker, but honestly if I could prove the rules didn’t work I would, not to be destructive but to be a catalyst for change, to change things for the better.   I now know this maverick leadership style was my superpower.

I came to release I had two choices.  I could act passively and comply, or I could be myself.  I chose to be myself!  Maverick leaders are independent thinkers, creative, innovative, idea generators and as leaders they give their team support and space to think independently too.

I am not suggesting that all women in leadership should adapt this style, although I have come to realise that this style of leadership can be learnt.  However, I am suggesting that women should be themselves.  In my early career, I didn’t know how important being myself would be to my leadership development.  That’s why in my coaching practice I work with women leaders who want to be themselves. To develop their own independent thinking, to live their values and drive their own success beyond that of which being a conformist can achieve.

Identifying your strengths is a great place to start and below are five questions to ask yourself.

  1. What do I most like about myself?
  2. What or who brings out the best in me?
  3. What is my greatest achievement?
  4. How have my strengths helped me in the past?
  5. How will my strengths help me in the future?

Use your strengths to give you confidence, confidence to speak out, confidence to be yourself.