Do you have a fire burning inside you to do more?
Do you know that if you could just get people to listen to your idea that your team could do more, your organization could be better or that the world would be a better place?
If you know you have more to offer… now is the time to step up as a leader.
Whether you at the bottom of the corporate ladder, run your own business or are in the C-Suite, now is the time to lead.
But being a manager doesn’t make you a leader.
It is time to take the lid off and talk about how to channel that energy and desire for a better way that is inside you so that you can be the change agent the world needs.
Sound good? Let’s go to the show!
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Leading Women in Tech podcast
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Prefer to read? Click here for the transcript
Hello! How are you doing? Welcome to the the Leading women in Tech podcast (or welcome back if you’ve been listening before!)
Today we are talking about why are a leader, and why now is the time to step up, whatever stage of your career you are at.
I have worked with women (and men!) at every stage of their career. From supervising students, to CEO’s. And at all levels, every now and then they will tell me that they aren’t a leader. Yes even CEOs. In that context it tends to be that they don’t feel they should lead in a particular area, potentially outside the scope of their business.
And I’ve had people tell me that they don’t have anything they feel passionate to be a leader on.
Or that they aren’t a natural leader. They don’t have confidence. They don’t think anyone will listen.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you have ever found yourself saying ‘I’m not senior enough, I can’t step up’, ‘No one will listen to me’, or ‘Now is not my time’, then I’m here to set the record straight. Now is your time. Now is your time to step up. If you have anything at all you care about deeply, then the world needs your voice. Your opinions. Your ideas. Your insights. Today, I’m sharing with you why…. Because if there is even the slightest fire inside you, just some embers perhaps. Today I want you to realise that the world will be a better place if you step up.
I’m also going to dismantle some leadership myths. Break down some barriers. Because whatever stage you are at. Today is your time.
So let’s dig in.
Let’s discuss why you, yes you, in particular, should step up. Why in fact, it isn’t a should, but it is for the benefit of us all, if you do step up.
Here’s the thing. The world desperately needs great leadership. And it needs great leadership now more than ever. It needs people who are principled. People who will listen. People who have different ideas. People that can influence, for all the right reasons. And yes, people that when faced with new information will be prepared to update their decisions, their principles and even their red lines.
And here’s something else, that doesn’t get talked about enough. The diversity dividend. We now all know I hope, that diversity is a good thing for business. But part of that diversity dividend that isn’t talked about enough, is diversity of experience. And this is why you are so important. Your uniqueness is an essential contributor towards us all benefitting from your leadership. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before we dip further into why you need to step up, let’s break down seven leadership myths that might be holding you back.
1. You can’t be a leader until you have a management positions.
And we need leadership at every level. Because leadership doesn’t start in the C-Suite, it doesn’t start in Directors. It doesn’t start in VPs. And it doesn’t start in team leads. Leadership is in every single one of us. And whatever stage of your career you are at right now, by stepping up as a leader you have the potential to do great things, for your organization, for your passions and bonus, for you and your career.
You can be a leader of your peers. Because leadership is really about showing a direction, influencing decisions and defining a path. Yes it goes hand in hand with great management. Bad management is actually typically epitomised by a lack of leadership. But the best managers, they start leading before they get that management title.
So if you are listening and telling yourself you aren’t ready to lead because of who you are right now, believe me now is the time, whatever stage you are at.
2. I’m a listener. I listen and absorb and therefore I can’t lead.
Leadership is primarily about great communication. And communication is two-way (or indeed multi-way). How many times have you found yourself listening to a colleague, a boss or even your CEO and screaming inside your head ‘why don’t they listen…’? Listening is possibly the most important asset in a skillset that builds on communication. If you aren’t listening, you aren’t paying attention to why people aren’t following.
3. My ideas aren’t big enough or bold enough.
Leadership doesn’t have to start with a big idea to change the world. Sure I like to talk about that round here. But one style of leadership is to simply aim to fulfil the mission or the organisation, unit or team you are in. Your leadership just needs to be aligned with that. So however big or small your ideas are, don’t judge them on that basis. Listen to them. And besides, I’m yet to meet someone that when they allowed their ideas to come up without judgement, didn’t grow into something really quite extraordinary. Remember, something you think is small might just be huge to someone else! Small ideas, added up, can be simply world-changing!
4. I have too many things I want to change.
Multi-Passionate people exists. And it is a good thing. This is where the great stuff happens by the way. Think about scientific discovery: the greatest discoveries now occurring are when disparate groups of people come together. Being passionate about multiple things can help drive this. The key is to feel good about it, and then find one purpose that allows you to take action. And believe me, if you have many things you want to change, you can still find a purpose. It’s about figuring out a road ahead that works for you. I’m a big believer in taking on one thing at a time, doing it well and then building the next one on top. So remember: lots of things just mean you have the ability to build!
5. My work isn’t what I’m passionate about.
I’ll let you into a not-so-closely-kept secret! Not being passionate about our work is true for many of us, and it was certainly true for me…. But I listened to my heart, followed my dreams, and I’ve now built a career and business that lights me up every single day. It wasn’t quick… in fact it took the best part of a decade. But I let my passion flourish, I listened to it, and I figured out how to bring small parts of it into my day job.
And I’ve met so many people like this.
So don’t use this as an excuse. Lean into it instead. Lead anyway. You can lead as a hobby. Lead as a side-hustle. Or you figure out a way to build it into your career. All are possible.
6. Leaders work crazy hours and are burnt out.
I’ve worked with many clients who tell me that they don’t want a promotion, they don’t want to manage, they don’t want to lead, because it leads to less time with family, and eventually burnout. So let’s just deal with this up-front-and-centre.
The majority of exceptional leaders don’t work crazy hours. They actually report a better quality of life than average. It’s just that the people that make it into the news, are in the news for a reason – they are different. Because to do leadership well, and achieve great things, you need the time, space and energy that a healthy life brings. You need time for inspiration. You need people who inspire you. So you need great relationships. You need time off, because some of our best ideas COME when we aren’t consciously processing. So being a leader is definitely not about working crazy hours. Actually the best leaders are some would call lazy. They aren’t lazy but they are ALWAYS looking for better ways to do things, shortcuts that can be taken.
And here’s the thing about burnout. Burn out isn’t actually about how many hours your work. It is about your energy. Specifically emotional energy. I’ve known people who worked 10 hours or less that got to ‘burn out’. And I’ve known people who worked 80 hours+ who didn’t. Now neither were great leaders, because they hadn’t worked on their quality of life, to give space for ideas and creativity, listening and surrounding themselves with inspiring people. But number of hours worked, doesn’t necessarily lead to burnout.
So before you find yourself saying ‘I can’t do that, I don’t want to make that sacrifice, challenge where that sacrifice assumption is coming from. Yes there are employers who encourage bad work practices. But good employers aren’t watching the clock, they are waiting for what you produce.
7. Leaders must have unwavering resolve and firm lines.
We have plenty of ‘leaders’ (and I did air quotes round that!) who have (quote again) ‘principles’, but who are scared to change their minds. They are afraid of being challenged. We see this all too often in senior management, politicians, and even scientists. We don’t like the status quo that we’ve been followed being changed. And yes, even science isn’t immune to that! In fact sometimes it can really quite slow to change when new ideas come along that really challenge what has been a long-held belief.
But here’s the thing: we should be changing our minds when we are faced with new information. We absolutely should have the strength of character to say ‘hey I got that wrong… thanks for pointing it out’. It is actually incredibly sad that more people don’t. So if you are feeling that you don’t have firm lines. That is OK. It means you are open to discovering, to new ideas. And crucially that you will be prepared to listen.
Leadership isn’t about having all the answers. Leadership is about listening and learning.
Now we’ve covered those 7 myths, let’s go back to why you need to lead.
So let’s talk about you. I finish every podcast episode and training, with a statement… the world needs that uniqueness that you bring as a leading women in tech.
Because here’s the thing. You are unique. No one else has had your set of experiences, knowledge and interactions that make you who you are. That provides a unique set of insights. And unique sense of purpose. And the world benefits when we are heard. That diversity dividend I mentioned… a large part of that is from the variety of experiences and knowledge we bring.
And right now, the world desperately needs new ideas, new insights and inspiration. We are living in unsettling, even extraordinary times. And if the human race is to successfully tackle the challenges that we face ahead, it is time for you to join in this journey. It is time for you to lean in to that fire inside you, to inspire change, define who you want to be and step into that person.
If you are a passionate, and driven with purpose, you can drive change. In fact, we have a duty to roll up our sleeves, solve problems and push for a better world. It is no longer sufficient to complain from he side-lines.
Technological innovations can make the human race better and make planet earth safer. And we, as Leading Women in Tech, contribute to that.
It is time to stand up for a better way. And better vision of leadership. Better ideation. Better solutions.
I want you to leave a positive impact and be a change agent for good.
We as women need to make sure we are part of the solution to the challenges the world is facing today. And the tech sector is so heavily embedded in everything the human race is doing, it is essential that we take our seat at the table.
Yes our road to bring change is frequently (dare I say always) more challenging than for our male peers. But if you have a fire in you, the human race needs you to stand up and bring hope. It is our responsibility as leading women in tech to show up. This is our opportunity. Right here, right now.
We have been forced into a situation we never imagined we would be in. But in times of desperation, true future leaders are created.
Future leaders fuel innovation right now.
Future leaders generate passion and help their teams thrive right now.
Future leaders channel their team’s creativity to better outcomes.
Future leaders inspire everyone around them to come together and support each other in times of crisis.
Future leaders fuel the future.
Future leaders are being created, right there, right now, today.
That is why now is your time.
Now is the time to pivot.
Now is the time to rethink your career.
Now is the time to make a change and go for it.
If you have a fire in your belly because you know things can be better, NOW is the time to take action.
And that my love, is the Leading Women in Tech manifesto.
If today’s podcast has inspired you, then I want to leave you with one more tip to turn that fire inside you into action. So let’s talk about a Leadership Mindset Moment: challenging your excuses.
What’s the leadership mindset moment? I can hear you ask! It’s a simple tip to adjust how you act or think to make it easier to up-level so you can take more positive action on the topic of today’s podcast. Great, right?
What excuses bubble up when you start thinking about stepping up, speaking out, and taking a stand? perhaps
“I need more experience” or “I’ll do that when I get this qualification”
“I’ll show more leadership in my next job”
“I’m too young/too old/too inexperienced/too experienced/not in the right position/I’ve tried this before/I’m not in the right job/I don’t have a job”
Identify those excuses, then remind yourself:
Being the LEADER you want to follow starts as soon as you start.
When you start being an inspiring leader, who takes action for those around them each, every day, people will follow you.
People are desperate for great leadership and stability right now
People are needing leadership more than ever before.
You need to be seen.
Now is your time to get noticed.
Now is your time to thrive.
Now is your time shine.
Now is your time to lead.
So I’d love you to unpick why your hesitant and then tackle that head on, and call it out for what it is – an excuse because you are scared. Just facing that excuse, examining it, and then leaning in to what is possible when you take action, will help you push through.
Remember: now is your time to lead.
So I’ll say it one more time, just for you! Stay on your tech leadership game, and follow your dreams, because the world really does need that uniqueness that you bring as a leading woman in tech.