Sarah Austin, Operating Director at PageGroup was one our 2015 finalists. She has written about how despite being daunted by being nominated she realised that it really doesn’t matter which sector you are from there are still shared skills and ideas when it comes to leadership and how being a Future Leader Award winner has given her a whole new network.
I was nominated for the Future Leaders Award by someone who used to work for me, several years ago, someone who is now a friend and a key player in Investment Banking recruitment. It is a huge honour to get nominated, to hear that people feel you have something above the rest is both flattering and motivating. However once the feel-good moment had passed, I was concerned that I wasn’t from a relevant industry and looking at past winners I didn’t feel there was anyone I could relate to.
I was wrong, once I received the application form, I realised how regardless of the industry a leader is a leader. You are the person that drives the key messages of the business forward and, you would hope, inspires your people to do more and do it better. The award offers women from all sectors the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, to be able to evaluate how they are performing in their career, and what else they want to do in the future to become a better leader. This, coupled with the opportunity to share the challenges of their individual sectors with like-minded people is what makes the Awards so pivotal to my personal development.
In fact, being from a recruitment business, it was great to see how the skills and attributes of sales leaders are very similar to leaders within other industries, what people want from a leader isn’t about the market, it’s about drive, delivering messages and motivating people, the only difference is simply using our skills in a different way. For example, within recruitment, it’s easy to appraise a general level of performance, we have key measurables on which to drive the business, look at each day and week. However in some of the sectors represented, it wasn’t as clear cut, and this presented its own leadership challenges something I wouldn’t have understood until I met the other finalists.
Even when completing the form, relating my experience to people outside of the industry was challenging but a really positive experience, we get so comfortable in our own jargon and thinking about our own business that the opportunity to reflect and review our skills against the market gave me confidence but also an opportunity to appraise my own performance and decide on the key areas I want to develop.
The interview process did nothing but reaffirm how important it is that women from all sectors apply and contend. The questions were aimed at us as individuals in the industry, not about the type of business we are in. So much of the process was around what I had done to make myself a better leader and also for me to understand and verbalise what my views are on what makes a good leader, things that are relevant regardless of sector.
Recruitment has a reputation for being insular, people know each other due to their longevity in the market, however, it’s not common place to see a group of recruiters from different businesses taking openly about the dynamics of their business, growth plans and personal development challenges they face. Sometimes people simply stick to the status quo and say how well everything is going and how successful they are; not sharing ideas and challenges in an open forum. What Future Leaders Awards gives me is a peer group, a group of confidants with whom I can share my thoughts and challenges and who because of the differences in our sectors means varied and thought-provoking opinions, from neutral people.
So if you are thinking about applying, or know someone who is a future leader, nominate them, this award process has done nothing but inspire me to do more, be a better leader and utilise a great new network to move my career and skill set forward.
If you’re inspired by Sarah’s post you can get nominating here!