IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Kelly Pettersen

Author Wendy Gray
March 8, 2021

Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by. 

What skills and attributes do female leaders bring to create diverse leadership at management level? 

Diversity of thought at any level in an organisation is crucial, not just at the leadership level. However, sponsorship of diversity at the management level is the ultimate driver to set the tone, culture and the right example. If management gets this right, it can drive innovation, customer success, best practices and overall profitability. Female leaders can play a strong role in contributing to diverse leadership, as they are more generally known for exemplifying various characteristics that can be quite complementary to their male counterparts. Three key attributes female leaders are likely to bring include: 

– Empathy can create psychological safety for people and teams, allowing people to be comfortable to feel heard. This ultimately can create an open minded and problem solving environment which can accelerate growth for companies. 

– Resiliency or adapting in the face of adversity can be a powerful skillset that women can exude in the workplace. They seem to be able to quickly bounce back from challenges and manage stressful situations well which can be key traits when it comes to good leadership.

– Multi-tasking is a skill that women have seemed to hone over the years. The ability to manage multiple projects, large and small, simultaneously to success is capability that many women have seemed to perfect.

I should add, that in my view, diversity does not just mean more females getting a seat at the table. Diversity also means developing a culture that comprises people of various ethnicities, cultures, unique backgrounds and adding people to the mix with varied work and life experiences. Women play one role in that.

What does “choose to challenge” mean to you? 

“Choose to challenge,” in my opinion, means to speak up and be heard and challenge the status quo. Just because things have always been done the way they are, does not mean it’s right or the best way or should be continued. I believe that women need to challenge their inner critic and speak up, give their view and feel confident that their opinion matters. People want to hear what you have to say. Do not feel you have to always be 110% prepared in order to do that in the boardroom or at any meeting for that matter; you and I both know a man never would!

How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table? 

Be confident. Be authentic. And don’t always take things personally. Do not be scared to speak up, take a view, disagree and say no. Maintain a growth mind-set and push ahead in order to advance even if in small ways. Ask for that raise and promotion even if you get told no. Create strong relationships with people wiser and smarter than you. Do the same when you build teams. Never be the smartest person in the room.

Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe. https://indd.adobe.com/embed/bb2678fd-fafb-4e5f-b57b-bbe97612e7cf?startpage=1&allowFullscreen=true