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What I’ve learnt as a woman in leadership.

First Global > Blog > Markets and Insights > Articles > What I’ve learnt as a woman in leadership.

At the beginning of my career, more than 25 years ago, I knew I
wanted to work with people, to build strong relationships and treat
everyone with respect. I love listening to clients and colleagues and
revel in their diverse life stories and experiences, which often turn
out to be significant learning curves.

A passion for something other than making money

“Increased revenue and profitability are by-products of honesty,

hard work, thought leadership and authentic passion around your

trade. Find someone who’s not willing to sacrifice those most

scalable attributes while they consult.”

Andrew Loos

One of the most defining experiences in my career was at an
international institution where I was mentored by someone who
was results-driven and believed in me. He motivated me to take
advantage of opportunities that I would not have normally
considered. It shifted my perspective, and I realised how powerful
a change in one’s mindset could be: it could catapult the trajectory
of a woman in the workplace, particularly because challenges now
become opportunities.

Everyone has different strengths that we must capitalise on, as well
as weaknesses. In forging healthy working relationships, we
identify and nurture our weaknesses and find ways to overcome
them. Contrary to the conservative perception of female leaders,
I have learnt that one of the advantages of being a female leader is
that women feel more comfortable showing emotion and empathy.
Empathy with service excellence and authenticity are powerful
attributes to building trust.

Another keystone to my climb up the corporate ladder is my belief
that a business is most successful when it is recognised for
collective, collaborative team effort and not for one person’s singular
initiative. It’s all about the team working together for a lasting legacy.

Aligned to the ethos and culture of First Global Asset Management,
is my passion to serve with dedication and excellence. Core to me
is to lead by example, be human and admit mistakes, and focus on
change. One needs to think beyond the norm and continually
challenge yourself to develop and grow; you need to constantly
raise the bar.

Women, who generally carry many of the wounds of inequality and
the larger burden of community responsibility, have the tenacity that
comes with the territory of leadership. As a woman of colour, I understand
many of us have financial responsibilities not only to our immediate families,
but also to our extended families, so that as each generation progresses,
it gradually lifts their economic positions, closing the inequality gap with
education, economic benefit and possibly creating a more socially-just
society for all South African women.

One of the most challenging aspects of my career as a woman was
when I started in the financial services industry and felt there was
an expectation to behave in a certain way which embodied many
typical male traits. It was not easy being a female in a male-dominated
environment, but I have learnt over time that we need to start by
owning who we are and what we have to offer. I have learnt to be
true to myself and adopt my own style of working that is
ethically compliant.

While the world is evolving, women are still lagging when it comes
to leadership roles. The major barriers that women face in business
today is making our way to the C-suite. Women should take on
additional risks and prepare themselves to take on challenging roles.

My advice to young women who are about to start their
career is to:

  • Decide what you want and go for it.
  • Lean towards opportunities that seem risky and uncomfortable at first, but offer great exposure and a chance to learn something new and challenging.
  • Being an efficient female leader is not about pretending to be someone else, but it is understanding your unique leadership style and what makes you a good leader.
  • So, take some time to reflect, to think about the story you want to create and how you want your story to end.