When preparing for my SLP class on Leadership, my thoughts
went straight to what I imagined as a leader: current board members, CEOs, and
honestly, the ‘straightforward’ examples we think of when we scan LinkedIn. It
was not until I truly opened my mind up to what leadership actually meant that
I was able to build a diverse panel of true voices of those who lived, learned,
and could share what it meant to be a leader in their field.
With counsel (and inspiration!) from my fellows, I decided
to build a panel of diverse leaders from all arenas of leadership--from a
successful Army officer who has experienced first-hand the pressure of leading
in extreme circumstances to a first-time founder who passionately built her Healthtech
startup--because leadership, like most things, does not have a singular
narrative. It is something that is contextual, time-given, and experienced, and
I wanted to find individuals who could speak to all areas of the journey.
My panellists ranged from very successful women in business
like CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation Susanna Kemp and Devicka Wood, a Forbes 30
under 30 entrepreneur, to Joseph Brown, a Commanding Officer in the British
Army and Kriss Baird, a former Innovate UK advisor and edtech advocate. Each
were spectacular in their own right and showed that no matter what field of
work or expertise, there are threads of leadership like fortitude,
determination, community, and mentorship, that span across sectors. Joseph
shared methodologies used within military leadership and shared his insights on
the hierarchy of leaders and the inherent respect each level is given. Devicka
gave us insight on determination, standing for your mission, and the truth
behind the entrepreneurial journey; Kriss showed us that though sometimes
events seem unrelated, there is a way to create them into your constellation
map of leadership. Susanna revealed to us her journey to leading an
international foundation and becoming a leader with impact and advocate for the
Though all their stories were different, they shared true
sentiments and practical knowledge that could bolster our own leadership tool
kit. I feel like it made us, who are all on different stages of our leadership
path, a little less intimidated of this journey we are embarking on.
Though there are always hiccups with the being the class CEO
(google hangouts failing to work out when you need it and always having more
questions than time permits), I felt like it was a great introduction and
prompted reflection for each of us fellows. How do we see ourselves as leaders?
How can each of us utilize our strengths to motivate others
and understand, but more importantly, learn from our leadership mistakes?
Following on the panel, we took time to reflect on their thoughts and words and
devise a way to implement these strategies within our own businesses.
John Maxwell said, “Leaders become great not because of
their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” Each of our panellists
truly empowered and inspired us to fulfil a work life of action and example,
and this is a thread which all of us can apply within the new year.