Co-Founder and CEO of Courageous Leaders
My personal journey from emerging leader in several accounting firms to existing leader at two internationally recognised firms, has given me a deep and real appreciation of the need for courage when leading yourself, others and the business. Despite achieving my dream of becoming the first female partner in one of these firms and in the other being the first partner to take paid maternity leave, I too often found myself returning home feeling like Joan of Arc. I absolutely drew on reserves of courage every day so I could be the kind of leader I really wanted to be, at home and in business. A leader who inspired others, trusted others could do great things and importantly realising their true potential because of my deep belief in them.
My great persistence to carve out this ambitious journey to create a more encouraging and supportive business world was driven by a desire to make a difference for women and young people following me and importantly my two daughters. Looking back with the perspective that time and emotional resilience brings I can see I was the intolerable conflict in the equilibrium created by my heavily male dominated colleagues in the partnership. They often marvelled at how honest I was, how idealistic and even going so far in one performance appraisal to tell me I was “too trusting”.
One of my most courageous moments as a leader was facing four partners who fired me from the partnership. For two years I found it hard to use those words and to share the story. My cathartic release finally came when writing and publishing my book in January 2011. Prior to this I faced my demons by going to a Partner Alumni Dinner with feelings of peace. I learned firsthand the power of resilience and agility.
Establishing my business, Courageous Leaders, in 2002 and having my husband join me in 2007 saw me collaboratively build a company to create learning initiatives aimed at developing the capability of leaders to be courageous in organisations as diverse as Sanitarium, The Iconic, PwC, WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
I love what I am doing and I also know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today without the experiences that have formed my thinking and my behavioural choices. These experiences enabled me to discover the difference between the kind of pain you endure from physical exertion and the emotional pain endured when change is imposed on you. Such emotional pain is raw and consuming and it has equipped me to facilitate the transformation of others with a deep level of empathy and sustainability.
My three pieces of advice for anyone
1. BE the kind of leader you want to be and create individual accountability to stay true to it no matter what is thrown at you
2. Do what it takes to develop your emotional and change resilience
3. Define success in your terms and don’t get swept into the judgement from others definitions.
We hope you are inspired by another in our Enterprising Entrepreneur series.
From those in Heels.