Earlier this week some of the Concirrus team attended DevelopHer’s first event of the year in the heart of Shoreditch, sponsored by Depop. The theme of the night was ‘fearless leading,’ featuring a panel of five entertaining, inspiring and informative fearless leaders:
- Anne-Laure le Cunff, Founder of Ness Labs
- Emily Atkinson, Managing Director of DevelopHer and Team Lead at Condé Nast
- Devika Wood, Head of Healthhub and London Accelerator at Wayra .
DevelopHer are a not-for-profit organisation helping elevate women in tech and i’ve been to many of their events over the past year and a half. After a night of networking (and pizza), this panel in particular inspired me more than most. Here are six lessons from the night that are key to take onboard when it comes to leadership and empowerment.
- Be authentic. The difference between managing and leading. If you’re managing a high-performance team you won’t last long if you’re not authentic. Leadership is not just a job title, it’s a human quality and goes beyond OKR’s or targets. It involves empowering your team, helping them with career development and adapting to their needs in order to create an inclusive culture. Maria Raga, founder of Depop, stated during the panel “I like people challenging me. It makes me realise when they agree with me, they’re telling the truth.” Creating an environment where it’s okay to be challenged enables future leaders.
- Failure drives growth. Leaders often feel pressure to deliver, reach targets and ‘have it together all the time’. It is important however to be comfortable when talking about our mistakes and recognising their role in our ongoing development. It is tricky to know when it’s appropriate to be vulnerable at work, but if we’re more open and ask for advice it creates opportunities for growth. As Anne-Laure le Cunff, founder of Ness Labs mentioned, ‘Fail Liike a Scientist.’ Every time you get something wrong, you’re learning, and it shows you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Network. With the current lack of women in leadership positions, seeing yourself as a leader can seem unrealistic. In 2018 women were 23.7% of those employed as Chief Executives and Senior Officials. Devika highlighted a further stat reporting that there are more men called 'Dave' in leadership positions than women all together. If you're looking for inspiration, go to events like DevelopHer, learn and create your own network of like-minded individuals.
- Hire the right people. Unconscious bias is real, meaning you can hire people based on the fact that they display the same traits as you. As Devika pointed out, removing name, age and university grade and instead looking at cultural fit can lead to the best success stories. Creating these opportunities is vital in building a team that is as strong as it is diverse. At DevelopHer, Emily Atkinson said ‘reach out to the wider community,’ not just someone you know. Trust your gut and hire people that are better than you. Learning from others accelerates the development of any leader.
- Get comfortable with what’s uncomfortable. Stats show that women are less likely to ask for pay rises in the workspace. Maria Raga’s advice when asking for a pay rise was ‘go in there and highlight your successes and what you bring to the business that adds value, rather than explaining why you need more money.’ If you want to see change then make it happen.
- Acknowledge your strengths. Here’s a top tip from Rachelle Denton; she suggested writing down all of your successes and achievements and reading them out loud to yourself. Ask others what your strengths are. It may feel strange at first but embrace it. Devika agreed and suggested; ‘Start by writing a list of ten successes you've had and then add a new one every day going forward, read the list out loud to yourself until you become comfortable hearing it.’ If you acknowledge your strengths, then others will follow!
Now go out there and become a leader!
From left to right Rachelle, Maria, Emily, Anne-Laure and Devika
Some resources that I find useful: