KIRSTEN MOLLOY: Engaged leadership plays a big part in your career

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What helped me in having a corporate career and achieving things that I never imagined doing?

I get asked that quite a bit, and then ‘in a male dominated environment’ often gets thrown in too. There are so many factors: Hard work. Luck. Supportive family. Role Models. Education. Mentors…

 POWERFUL: Leaders who engage with you, see more than you do and help you get there are the ones that will assist you the most.
POWERFUL: Leaders who engage with you, see more than you do and help you get there are the ones that will assist you the most.

What helped me in having a corporate career and achieving things that I never imagined doing?

I get asked that quite a bit, and then ‘in a male dominated environment’ often gets thrown in too. There are so many factors: Hard work. Luck. Supportive family. Role Models. Education. Mentors. Attitude. Coaches. Determination. Failure. Learning. Loving challenges. The list goes on. It is really hard to unpack all the things that have gone into the efforts of several decades. It is even harder to say “here is the one thing”, to give the winning piece of advice. I could pick anything on that list and elaborate. But one theme that has made a difference has been leadership.

I was fortunate early in my career to work for leaders who were willing to give me challenges, be great sounding boards and let me get on with it and learn. I read recently that your first boss is very important in shaping your career. Being young and new in a large corporation my first manager had a much better idea than I did (straight from Uni) of the kind of career I could have. He made sure I spoke to people in different areas of the business and that I developed a plan for what I would do next – well before I saw any need to do this! This was key to developing my desire to move from a technical to commercial role, establishing a sustaining career trajectory.

Experiencing authentic leadership has been a real positive in my career. Leaders who engage with you, see more than you do and help you get there, leaders engaged (not threatened) by different ideas and approaches. Leaders supportive of flexible work practice, who set big goals and back you to deliver. Leaders who let you play to your strengths.

Leaders can have positive impacts on people in their team, especially important in the times when things are really hard. Because one thing is for sure – no careers are perfect and linear, we all fall down, make mistakes or have things happen to us on that journey that make it tough. This is when leaders’ support made a really big difference.

I want to make a positive difference to people. So did the leaders who supported me. And my question is – if more managers took this approach would we have better diversity and engagement in our workforce? Are you proactive in supporting people? Are you sensitive to the raft of different issues people might face and how you might support the great diversity of needs in your workforce? Have you considered unconscious bias and if something needs to shift here?

I started Verity Mentoring to increase demand for diversity in leadership. We have assisted dozens of women on their leadership journey over the past two years. The men and women mentors have given their time, to support up and coming leaders and a different looking future. This year I am proud to announce three of the Verity Mentoring scholarships will focus on supporting Indigenous business women. You can help by mentoring and coaching business women in your own workplace, or by joining the Verity program. Good leadership can have a profound positive impact on others.

Surely a more equitable future makes a lot of sense and will benefit all of us. It is exciting to consider we can all do this.

Kirsten Molloy – Equal Futures Project co-founder. Founder of Verity. CEO of HVCCC. Non-Executive Director. This article is part of a series presented by the Equal Futures Project and Hunter Diversity Awards in partnership with the Newcastle Herald


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