IWD 2021

Women in Leadership and the impact of a pandemic

By Jayne Alexander, CEO of Walpole corporate partner, The Dovetail Agency and Founder of The Champion of Women Awards. This March 8th, International Women’s Day, women have more to applaud themselves for than ever before. We have coped with an incredibly difficult year, which has impacted every area of our lives. We have worn multiple hats whilst working, keeping our positions viable, our staff supported and our businesses afloat. Domestic life has become closer and business life has become remote. Without that face to face interaction, how is that we have been able to lead and motivate teams from a distance?
7th Mar 2021
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IWD 2021 Women in Leadership and the impact of a pandemic

It is in fact, I believe, our innate skills and characteristics that have allowed us to ride the wave of the pandemic. Much has been said about the effects of lockdown being ruinous to the many advancements made by women over the years. However, many of the characteristics by which women are traditionally defined are also those which have enabled us to survive and which will guide us into this next, long-awaited, phase of recovery.

Take compassion and empathy, for instance. Having guided my own team through this last year, I sought advice from Leadership Coach Paul Berry, of www.humanperformancescience.co.uk. He supported my views that great leaders know when their teams need to be challenged and when they require support – and it’s very likely that the latter has been required throughout the pandemic. With compassion and empathy, leaders can learn what it is that their teams need to feel valued. These qualities foster a sense of belonging and reassure teams that ‘we’re in this together.’ The pay-off? More collaborative, confident and cooperative teams, with greater motivation – and better results.

Additionally, it is fine to show vulnerability. As Paul Berry says, perhaps there was once a place for the role of the ‘macho, omniscient leader but today, we need to be able to relate on a more human level with our teams’. Part of creating that vital sense of togetherness and belonging means that you don’t have to have all of the answers and, in building trust with your teams, nor should you feel that you need to pretend you do.

All of these things can be built into a personal philosophy around the question of what good leadership looks like and it is, unquestionably, good leaders who will guide their businesses and teams successfully over the coming period of restoration. Self-reflection is, again, an attribute often applied to women yet, as leaders, we must all question ourselves occasionally.  We must, at times, ask how it is that our colleagues see us and how we need to adjust our approaches for congruence with current circumstances, without compromising our core philosophies.

Of course, communication is also a key factor in all of the above. In times of uncertainty and stress, it is more vital than ever that we are unambiguous; that we are clear, regular and honest in our communication with our partners and teams. We can also reduce anxiety, in ourselves and our teams, by focusing on what is within our ability to control, how to marry these with our objectives and how to go about tackling them. This clarity, both in communication and purpose, will restore confidence as we lead our businesses into the future.

We are delighted to confirm that The Champion of Women Awards will again take place on October 1st, 2021. Marking the 20th Anniversary of The Dovetail Agency, I was inspired to create an Awards which celebrated women supporting each other across a range of sectors, while raising money for cancer charity Maggie’s and The Felix Project, which aims to end hunger in the capital.

It’s important to note that it is not only business leaders who deserve our respect and recognition for their ability to stay afloat: after all, what are leaders without teams? For many people, regardless of position, still being here to tell the tale is a measure of success.

And what is the key to success? “To understand that while we do not have control over a number of the universal pressures, we do have control over exactly how we react to it and also what we choose to focus on. Anywhere focus goes, power flows.” 

Let’s all of us – men, women, leaders, teams - train our focus on the positive and fruitful times to come.
 

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