Leadership in full makeup and high heels

Sonia Brown launched the National Black Women’s Network (NBWN) in 1999, to promote networking opportunities on behalf of women within the wider professional and business environment.

In 2008, Sonia launched www.sistatalk.co.uk an exciting corporate and social networking forum aimed at women looking to create a strong online professional presence and provides an extensive and useful resource for anyone serious about attracting the attention of who’s who in industry and business

Each month Sonia shares her thoughts and inspiration.

Sonia Says…..

Leadership can be done in full makeup and high heels!

Women are experiencing the most freedom and liberation at any time in history; yet we are still bombarded by the notion that we are failing to take their place at the top, in the numbers we should be because we are not ‘natural leaders.‘

Of course, there are women who are achieving impressive results in certain sectors but on the whole, we are still underrepresented in business, politics, the boardroom, the economy and countless other sectors where it matters. In a recent article by Herminia Ibarra and Otilia Obodaru, they state that if women are going to achieve the same level of success, power and authority as men, we must simply become strong leaders by developing better visionary skills and take more risks! Nice!!

We don’t need a Government White Paper or a new Task Force to realise that this does not take into account the varying (and often) challenging environment, culture, education or access to opportunities that women face around the world. Yes, there are a few enlightened men out there who want to help women (bless) and we salute them and their efforts; but at the end of the day it is up to women to focus and flourish.

So I have taken a different approach to my top 5 tips for demonstrating empowering and inspirational leadership characteristics to create the success women strive for in their life. My recommendations have no scientific proof, are not endorsed by any institution, foundation or industrial body. I have won no awards or received public recognition for my views. All I know is that those ‘sure and tested techniques’ have not worked for the masses of men out there and have made very little impact on the number of women securing leadership roles. So let’s focus and celebrate our unique abilities to achieve extraordinary results in our professional and private lives.

1. Motivating goals produce the actions needed to make things happen.

* Ensure you have a clear and compelling vision of your professional and personal life
* Understanding what steps need to be taken to achieve your goals
* Continuously demonstrate self discipline and determination to reach your goals
* Be fearless but fair about going after your goals. Of course you will be accused of being aggressive but always act with integrity,
* Make sure your actions are transparent and honest

2. Build a winning team that takes you nearer to success rather than further away

* Likeability factor – make sure you can encourage people to follow your vision and see the bigger picture
* Identify and work with people to achieve your goals harmoniously
* Have the courage to make tough decisions that will not make you popular but allows you to achieve your objectives
* When you don’t know, find information, resources and people who can achieve your vision
* Understand your sphere of influence, especially when things get tough
* Expand your mind through continuous learning both formally and informally

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

* You are not the only winner; there is plenty of room for everyone
* Remove pride, ego, jealousy, envy and malicious behaviour from your checklist of leadership attributes
* Promote and reward collaborations, partnerships and team working. Other people have valid and workable opinions.
* Rest when you need to – you are no good if you burn out
* Reward yourself (and those around you) each step of the way

4. Your actions helps YOU first, then family, then the community and society at large

* Your actions, behaviour, attitude and passion for life make you an attractive role model to others
* You are more satisfied with life and your vision becomes very compelling, attractive and worthy to others
* It is easier to bring people along if they feel your vision and behaviour is authentic and sincere
* Everyone sees the benefits from your vision
* Your actions inspires, motivates and empowers others to be better, do more and live passionately

5. Don’t be a victim, leave a legacy

* Don’t be a victim, if you can believe it, you can achieve it!
* Understand that you may not see the outcome of your vision e.g. Martin Luther King (was one of many who) set the path for equality in American but paved the way for Barack Obama to become the first Black President of the USA.
* Every small step you make is tremendous progress and allows another young girl to believe that ‘she can’

So, you can take my suggestions on board, or leave them! I believe they are valid and worthwhile because they are based simply on experience, common sense and a strong belief. When I look at women like Oprah (obvious), Michelle Obama, Maria Shriver, Hilary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May MP, Jackie Smith MP, Madelene Albright, Anne Minto OBE, Maggy McClelland and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to name a few; they were not handed a ‘how to’ manual.
They are simply getting down to business, thus becoming impressive leaders in their own way and doing a very good job at it in my humble opinion!

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