It took the FL Award to make me realise I’m a a respected opinion leader
Alison Hemsworth, a 2016 FL Award Finalist, tells us what she learned and discovered about herself from being involved with the award process.
Firstly I never expected to be nominated because I didn’t consider that I had yet achieved the right credentials to be considered capable of future executive leadership. Knowing that others felt that I did have those competencies and skills was humbling and created a bit of an awakening.
Gave me more confidence
I’d done the obligatory post graduate qualifications in leadership and was proud of those achievements, not least because I was 45 when I achieved a MSc and still don’t have an undergraduate degree, but in fact being nominated for this award gave me more confidence to achieve my dreams than any qualification.
A reflective process
The application form itself forces you to be incredibly reflective and if you are nominated or decide to apply this year please make sure that you take plenty of time to complete it because the questions are far reaching and the allowed word count minimal.
One of the things I realised through this process is that I didn’t lack Board level experience. I sit on countless national programme boards and contribute towards a significant number of national decisions. It may not be ‘the’ Board but the skills I have are all transferrable.
It’s not about age, it’s about potential
Never having expected to be nominated I certainly didn’t expect to be short-listed. In a couple of weeks I’ll be 50 and for me the term ‘future leader’ conjured up a 30 something young woman but then I realised that if you took into account the 11 years I took out of the workplace to bring up my children I was probably at a similar stage in my career to younger women who haven’t had that career break.
I’d encourage all of your who might be returners to work to see this as part of your career development.
Valuable Coaching Session
One of the most valuable parts of the process for me was having the coaching session with Olivier Vidal of the Fair Hiring Project. As I live in Leeds and he is based in London that was done via Skype.
I didn’t even have a Skype account at that point but in the hour that I had with Olivier he drew a lot of information out of me that I would never have considered relevant. It was such a positive experience that I now use this technology with my mentees and that has enabled me to mentor individuals outside of where I live and work.
Job titles not a guide to achievement or potential
Another thing that I learnt is that job titles can be deceptive. I was shortlisted with women who had titles such as ‘Global Head of Sales’. In the public sector that would make you a recognised leader already never mind a future one.
And … it dawned on me …
Finally the presentation we were asked to give at the interview was the most daunting but most useful 3 minutes of my career to date.
I ran it past a colleague for an objective view and she asked me why I had failed to state in it that I was a respected opinion leader and then the penny dropped ….. That’s exactly what I am but it took the Future Leaders Award for me to realise it.
That’s changed the way I conduct myself. I now try to make what my current coach, who I met through Women in the City, describes as executive level decisions on a daily basis.
That’s in readiness for when I do have a seat around the table at ‘the’ Board.