Welcome to Season 03 Episode 01 of The Leadership Detectives.
In this episode, we talk about leadership and the importance of diversity with our inspirational guest, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE. Jacqueline is the President of techUK and Chair of the Board of Digital Leaders. Jacqueline dives into, among other leadership qualities, the need for embracing diversity and change, and altering the way we view setbacks.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference….
….. try sleeping with a mosquito!” …… Dalai Lama.
We spend a large amount of time speaking about the traits of strong leaders, where strength in various manifestations can set a phenomenal leader apart.
What we don’t talk about very often are the “vulnerabilities” of truly inspiring leaders, and we’ve put that word in quotations because we don’t want it confused with “weaknesses”.
To share more insights on how compassionate, open-minded leaders are shaping the future – specifically in the technological sector – we spoke to the extremely inspirational Jacqueline de Rojas CBE in our latest Leadership Detectives podcast.
We wanted to know what traits put leaders at an advantage moving into the new normal future, where inclusion and diversity have become non-negotiables.
Jacqueline is President of techUK, Chair of the board of Digital Leaders, and considers herself an advocate for diversity and inclusion.
We kicked things off by asking Jacqueline what traits she feels today’s leaders need in order to get the most of their teams:
Let go of self-limiting beliefs as a leader.
Jaqueline had to conquer her own self-limiting beliefs and realised (after working in a toxic work environment) that in order to succeed, she needed to work where she could be her true, authentic self.
Jaqueline: “I found myself another job in a different company, specifically looking for a culture that would embrace the things that now matter to me.”
Letting go of pre-conceived ideas relating to how leaders should act is critical to thriving as a modern leader.
Jaqueline: “Behaviours like kindness and empathy really matter if you’re going to unlock all the potential of your team.
Life is a lot simpler when you’re being your authentic self. Vulnerability can be your fortress.”
Be more tolerant and open to difference.
Today’s social justice movements are having a profound impact on society at large.
Diversity has become paramount on every level of the corporate structure – with leadership teams under pressure to diversify their representation.
This isn’t surprising when you learn that diverse teams make better business decisions 87% of the time.
Jaqueline: “We have to have diversity represented in the companies that build the services and products we all use.
Leaders must be accountable for demonstrating tolerance – especially under times of pressure.”
Openness to difference can also apply to the selection of team members.
Today, with so much competition for talent in the business world, it is becoming more and more apparent that leaders can benefit from growing their own talent from within.
Jaqueline: “With the war going on out there for talent, we are going to have to grow our own a lot more.”
Change the way you see failure.
There are glass-half-full leaders, and the other, more cynical variety. Things are going to go wrong, it’s just something we must live with.
However, when we reframe a failure into something positive – we inevitably push our teams onto a proactive trajectory instead of a reactive one.
Jaqueline: “We must change the way we see failure, from being a negative experience to a learning experience.
When you’ve gone backwards, you usually bounce up in your trajectory much further forward after that.”
Show up as the best leader you can be.
Leaders are responsible for shaping team players into the best versions of themselves.
However, so few leaders realise that their efficacy in this department is only as good as their own efforts to practice self-care and take time to develop themselves.
Jaqueline: “Ask yourself: how am I showing up? What footprint do I leave when I operate like this? What could I do better?
As a leader, one way to make sure you’re on the right track is to engage with your team members on matters relating to their general health and wellbeing.
Jaqueline: “Offer to be a sounding board for someone else, and then you’ll see what value you can bring.”
Be open to mentoring and being mentored.
Everyone knows that traditional management styles simply aren’t effective anymore.
As people change, our abilities to lead these people will require that we optimise our approaches with the times.
One effective way to keep your leadership skills polished and effective is to find a more experienced leader as a mentor.
Another is to mentor team members yourself, which gives you a chance to perfect leadership techniques in a hands-on capacity.
Jaqueline: “Mentoring isn’t necessarily about giving people the answers, or the benefit of your wisdom. It’s about asking great questions.
“Leaders have to scan the horizon for diverse opinions, otherwise you’re going to do the same-old stuff in the same-old way.”
We asked Jaqueline what advice she might have for young people who are the leaders of tomorrow. This is what she had to say:
“We all have a part to play, as influencers, to help tomorrow’s leaders be more diverse and effective.
One of the things that really matters for leaders, when they need to leave their mark, is to be able to land their message effectively.”
- Who would be your leadership role model?
“I think it would probably be the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. He has made it possible for culture and values to inform every decision that the company makes. I really admire that kind of courageous leadership.”
- What leadership book would you gift to someone?
“Invisible Women – Caroline Criado-Perez. It is a brilliant book on diversity, why it matters, and all the hidden bias that we have in our world.”
- Is there one leadership quote you’d like to leave us with?
“You are never too small to make a difference. That’s the biggest life lesson I ever learnt, after meeting the Dalai Llama. We all have a part to play in stretching the elasticity of our own tolerance. If we all adjust by 2mm our tolerance when we meet people, I think we can create a world overnight that is much more inclusive and embracing of diversity.”
We hope you found this article useful!