26th April 2016Natalie Coles
Seven Leadership Skills from “Dangerous Women”
I had the great privilege to attend a panel discussion hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Westminster Business School around Dangerous Women: Risk in Leadership.
The incredible panel consisted of 4 powerful women:
Karen Pierce, Chief Operating Officer for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
Abigail Boyle, Head of Yemen Team, FCO
Jane Marriott OBE, Director, FCO-Home Office, International Counter-Terrorism Unit
Anne Reevell – Country Director, BBC Media Action, North Africa
These women were sharing the skills they had learnt on what it takes to be an effective leader while being faced with difficult situations in conflict zones.
While I was listening to them sharing decisions they made in tough moments, I realised that everything they have learnt in these situations is applicable in my ‘not so risky’ world. Although they each spoke separately before opening up for questions they all had the same core values ingrained in how they do things well: Confidence, appreciate your team, trust in yourself, stay calm and, above all, have fun.
The seven key points that stood out for me were:
- Stay centred – remember who you are and where you come from. From this point of strength you will be able to lead your team well.
- Keep building the trust in your team – ultimately they are with you and they bring incredible value.
- You need to know as a leader what will push you over the edge. You will put yourself (and your team) at risk if you can’t recognise this.
- Make sure you anticipate the needs of your team, as in a risky situation, they might not be able to recognise this themselves.
- Set goals that stretch you. Ouch. No point sticking to being comfortable right?
- Never underestimate the influence you have on others.
- Learn how to be comfortable being outside of your comfort zone.
Listening to these women I was encouraged to lift my eyes a little higher, have the confidence in my own abilities and realise that it is only the fear of failing that keeps up back. This was summed by wonderfully in a quote reference by Abigail Boyle ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.’ – T.S Elliott