Journalist and Broadcaster Angie Mezzetti runs the brilliant Women In Leadership podcast, which draws out advice and inspiration from some of todays leading business women. Exploring each contributors journey to the top, she has picked up some fascinating insights and tips along the way.
Here she shares the most memorable pieces of business advice gleaned from an impressive line-up of interviewees.
Music is one of those things you can tap into in your head to change your mood. If you are in a tight spot, or in a new or difficult situation, you can galvanize yourself to face into it by humming, tapping or even whistling the right song to yourself. When it comes to your love life, the songs can come streaming without much effort Brigid Jones style. Remember however, that the same principle applies to your career and developing leadership skills. Resilience is one of those muscles you can develop with practice and having a few ‘go-to’ songs in your head, can really help. For me Madonna’s Get Into The Grove is one of the tunes I tap into when I need to move on and get stuff done. It is like flipping a switch. You don’t need to know all of the words. Sometimes the rest of the song can be irrelevant or contrary but you just need the phrase that works for you when you need it.
The women who talk to me for the podcast Women In Leadership share the most amazing wisdom and stories about their leadership journey. They often say things that I can instantly hang a song on in my head. You will have different songs, tunes, lyrics, rhythms that you can turn to that inspire you. Here are a few that come to mind for me from various women I have interviewed that can help anchor a really important point.
They are in no particular order and I often use these songs, and others, when I talk to groups of women about their internal dialogue and about getting past challenges in their careers.
1.You don’t need to be liked, you need to be respected
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Aretha Franklin is the first one that comes to mind. Catherine Keogh formerly CMO of Alltech said in an interview with me “You don’t need to be liked, you need to be respected”. This applies at home, at work and around the decision making table. I have no doubt that Catherine is both loved and respected because she built a terrific team around her in Alltech where women and men were encouraged to grow and develop in their roles whether or not they had families. If you are not getting respect, then it is time to change something. This does not mean thinking that you are better than everyone else, rather that you are as good as the next and worthy of respect. Little girls and women are often told to be nice so that people will like them. It can be difficult to be nice all the time and it is suffocating. When you move into management, roles and relationships can change but you can roll with it.
In this short podcast Catherine Keogh is joined by Claire Duignan and Cathriona Hallahan talking about the importance of having a clear vision and goals for your career.
2. You don’t get things done by standing still
‘Keep On Moving’ by Five. Brid Horan of 30% Club is one of the most active supportive women I know. Always working in the background and in the foreground, encouraging women to stay focused and on track and to make a difference in the world. Brid Horan is a great believer in action and motion towards a goal. “In business sometimes you can be inclined to wait for 100% of the information. Momentum is important, get things moving and you will make progress. You don’t get things done by standing still.”
3. Gender diversity is vital to ensuring sustainability for businesses
‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. We all need to see the bigger picture and to connect the dots to see how equal access to the decision making tables of the world has a beneficial effect on Mother Earth. Beate Sjafjell is a Professor of Corporate Law in Oslo University, Norway. She has a whole new way of looking at corporate social responsibility and brings a new meaning to the word ‘sustainability’. Beate Sjafjell is fearless when it comes to taking on big issues and corporate lobbying. She says the role of diversity, and especially the role of gender diversity, is vital in ensuring sustainability not only for businesses but also within planetary boundaries. Sustainability is the goal of bringing about a safe and just operating space for humanity, where resources are distributed in a way that ensures that everyone living on the planet today has enough to have their basic needs met. She is so worth a listen to.
4. Call it out – challenge bias and the status quo
‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’, By the Eurythmics. Annie Lennox belts out the lyrics about ‘the conscious liberation of the female state.’ It can feel like an uphill battle a lot of the time but there is something about that rhythm, those lyrics, that if you start walking to that beat, playing in your head, it can make you feel invincible. Carol Andrews is the 30% Club Lead in Ireland and she is an example not only of sisters doing for each other but for getting leading men to be champions for the project too through her work with the 30% Club. In her podcast she had some amazing pearls of wisdom. Listening to your team is so important. Respecting a diverse range of voices and ‘calling it out’ was probably my favourite one from Carol Andrews. “It is not always easy taking the lead and challenging bias and ‘the way things have always been done’ she says. Carol is a fearless advocate and as well as getting the sisters doing it for themselves, she believes that we need men to advocate and support women in leadership.
5. Shut down Mansplaining
‘Stop In The Name of Love’ by Dianna Ross. The next time someone, especially a guy, interrupts you, speaks over you or, worst of all, mansplains your own thoughts to you, press play on this one in your head and say out loud ‘Stop – I am speaking’ as Linda Smith says on the upcoming podcast out later this week. Lovingly referred to as ‘The Meanest Woman Alive’ for her legal strategy capabilities and her capacity to be ferocious on behalf of her clients.
6. Ask for help, get a coach, do it early.
‘Help’ by the Beatles. Sandra Healy, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at DCU. Ask for help, get a coach, do it early. This is really important to do at points in your career she says. Promote yourself and blow your own trumpet which is not an easy thing for women to do. Do something like get on Twitter, write a piece for a blog or the staff newsletter. Sandra advises women “to get out of your comfort zone. It encourages you to engage and you could find yourself a whole new community. Send an email to someone asking for their support.” Sandra says take the STAR Approach to highlight what you did in a Situation, what was the Task, what did you Achieve, and what was the Result.
7. Leave your baggage at the door
‘Blame It On The Boogie’ by Michael Jackson. Stop blaming yourself when things do not go to plan. Be prepared to leave your baggage outside the room. One of the best pieces of advice offered by Esther Weinberg is to have a good look in the mirror and ask yourself ‘how am I presenting to other people’. Prepare and be aware of your own feelings before you go into a meeting and ask yourself if they are real or just a personal perception. We all go about with baggage so she advises leaving it outside the door when you go into a meeting or a new situation. “Stop being in the judgement zone of yourself and instead say to yourself I have the right to be in this room.” After you do that Esther says to ask yourself “How can I be in the room in the best way possible.”
Check out the website to listen to the back catalogue of interviews with inspiring women on the Women In Leadership podcast. We are on iTunes and at womeninleadership.ie
Women In Leadership Wants Your Suggestions
If you have a song that empowers you when facing into Monday morning or before you go to an interview, the Women In Leadership Podcast wants to hear from you. Email email@example.com or contact on twitter @leadingwomenpod
To Book Angie Mezzetti as a speaker or MC contact firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Twitter @leadingwomenpod