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The Road to Leadership

Updated: Apr 13, 2019

Leadership is a topic we feel strongly about understanding and supporting at Circle. Helping more women get into leadership positions is a huge aspect of our mission.

In an ideal world, we’d all understand how to progress through our organisations, with helpful mentors in the shape of outstanding managers. But we know this is not a reality for many, and that success truly is an individual responsibility.

This is why we hosted our first panel event on the Road to Leadership, partnering with the WomenUp community at R/GA, a renowned design agency.

We peeled back the curtain and got the real story on what it takes to rise up and lead others effectively, joined by the following inspiring leaders:

It was a seasoned and honest discussion around building teams, leading individuals, and continuously developing ourselves. Read on to find out more!

Building Effective Teams

The key role of any leader is to ensure world-class teams are being built, that boost the overall success of the organisation. What’s important to know when it comes to leading teams?

Jen from R/GA advised us to “Give everyone on your team the opportunity to lead, mentor, and share knowledge and ideas with each other at all levels. This collaboration should happen from the top down and the bottom up.”

She also told us to ensure the whole team understands what your company is trying to achieve, then to build a plan together. Claire from Net-A-Porter mentioned to identify who in your team is particularly bought into the vision and can drive it through, to serve as the “change maker”.

“Surround yourself with people who have something you don’t, who are better than you at certain things.”

As an entrepreneur who’s built the Granttree team from scratch, Paulina told us to “Surround yourself with people who have something you don’t, who are better than you at certain things.” This way, the team will be well-rounded with all the key strengths necessary for success.

Leading Individuals

While building diverse teams is the aim for many leaders, understanding how individuals vary and how to lead different types is vital. Some individuals require a prescriptive brief to be able to perform effectively. Others need hand-holding most of the way. A select few need just one word from you and they’ll come back with an entire plan.

Roberta believes it’s important to understand what drives each person on your team. “Once you crack that,” she said, “it’s a revelation.”

But how do you get to a point where you understand what drives each individual? You need to schedule weekly 1-to-1 meetings with every team member to catch up, see where they are, and what they need help with. This also works to build trust.

But how do you deal with someone on your team who isn’t working out? Take the time to listen to their issues instead of cutting the cord right away. There could be a misunderstanding you weren’t aware of.

Continuously Developing Yourself

Acknowledging that personal development is a lifelong process will only benefit you as a leader.

Paulina and Claire each discussed the importance of experiencing failure and allowing yourself not to be on your best game at times. “Let go of control,” explained Paulina. “Allow others to shine, to take responsibility and to screw things up themselves.”

Jen emphasised that not only is listening a key skill to develop, but ensuring that you understand what’s being said, then take necessary action based on that. To this point, Roberta went on to explain how to ask the right questions. You’ll gain knowledge, but also connect to what others truly desire.

“Let go of control. Allow others to shine, to take responsibility and to screw things up themselves.”

Other key leadership skills are a strong sense of self awareness, being transparent and exercising radical honesty.

“There’s nothing more fascinating than exploring yourself and understanding just what you’re capable of,” Paulina finished with. Lastly, Claire told us to invest in ourselves. “You on your game is good for the business.”

Needless to say, we learned an incredible amount during our first panel event, and walked away with tangible advice to use on our own journeys to leadership.

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