IMPACT: Becoming A Better Leader | Great Health Guide
IMPACT: Becoming A Better Leader

IMPACT: Becoming A Better Leader

‘Becoming A Better Leader’ by Catriona Pollard published in Great Health Guide (July 2016). The lack of self-confidence can undermine a woman’s career. Read how Catriona used her experience working in mostly male-dominated environments to rise up to the challenge and become a leader in her own right.
Read other Impact articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.

IMPACT: Becoming A Better Leader

written by Catriona Pollard

When I was just 30 years old, I left behind a successful professional career in public relations to start my own agency. It was an incredibly exciting yet scary time; I was energised by all these possibilities, yet terrified of the unknown. Along with all of the challenges involved in turning my passion into my own business, one of the biggest challenges was that I didn’t yet know what it meant to be a female leader. 

The experience for a woman in leadership is a unique one and while the rewards are great, there are numerous challenges to face when competing in a business environment largely populated by men. As I’d spent my career working in mostly male-dominated environments, I didn’t have any strong female mentors to turn to for advice. The experience and life lessons they had to offer would have been invaluable. 

Now, working with a team of primarily young women at CP Communications, I make sure to pass on the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career. These experiences would have been so useful to me when I embarked on my own leadership journey and I hope will be useful for you as well. Here are three tips for women in leadership that I wish someone had told me. 

1. Believe in your own ability

Women can often be their own worst enemies in succumbing to self-doubt, fear and a lack of self-confidence. Sheryl Sandberg talks about the ‘imposter effect’, where women devalue their skill and talent despite evidence of the opposite. This is seen far less often in men and yet it persists in women of all ages.

The lack of self-confidence can undermine a woman’s career, preventing them from applying for more senior roles, being confident in their contributions, or venturing out on their own.

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My advice is that women need to trust their instincts and push themselves forward. Coworkers, clients and higher-ups won’t see you for the successful, credible leader you are unless you see yourself in the same light. While this might seem difficult at first, reaffirming your own value and ability won’t just help you believe it – others will too. 

2. Promote your ability

From a young age, women are taught to put the needs of others before their own. As a result, they feel uncomfortable stepping into the spotlight and have trouble celebrating their successes or promoting themselves.

As building a strong personal brand is critical to leadership success, it is important that women overcome these doubts and learn to articulate their own strengths and successes. Doing so will help you put yourself ahead of the pack and emphasise to others your abilities and skill in leadership. 

There are a number of ways you can do this. Focus on building your profile, both in the media, online and in-person. Cultivate your online image and ‘brand’, focus on networking and speaking at events where you can show off your skills. I found these tactics to be a great way to build my own personal brand.

3. Look after yourself

The everyday pressures of a woman in leadership can become overwhelming if left unaddressed. It is important to find ways to de-stress, refocus and revitalise. Whether this is through a creative outlet, exercise, meditation or a hobby, pursuing other interests outside your leadership responsibilities will help you create a much-important balance. 

For myself, this creative outlet is basket-weaving. Having a creative passion that I’ve fallen in love with has allowed me to balance my responsibilities, collect myself and better maintain my focus. While this ‘you’ time can be easily overlooked, it will help reduce stress and allow you to give your best in both your professional and personal lives.

With a confident outlook, a willingness to step into the spotlight and a focus on the self, women are well-equipped to leverage their talents and succeed in positions of leadership.

Author of this article:
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown to Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. Catriona is the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. Further information can be obtained from her website.

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