How can we position ourselves and build a strong Leadership Brand in 2021?
In this episode, I am talking to my friend, award-winning business leader, engineer and entrepreneur Felicity Furey to explore what is key to develop our leadership brand this year.
Together we will cover:
- What makes a strong leadership brand?
- What is going to be the key in 2021? (Especially after the big influence Covid-19 had on us all in 2020)
- How can we best position ourselves as leaders this year?
If you would like to get started with developing your leadership brand, download this free workbook to get clear on your core values:
Scroll down for this episode’s transcript.
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More about Felicity Furey
An award-winning business leader, engineer and entrepreneur, Felicity Furey has made a career out of making the ‘impossible’, possible. Named one of AFR’s 100 Women of Influence by age 26 and Boss Magazine’s Young Executive of the Year, Felicity has led multi-million dollar engineering projects across Australia, founded several successful businesses, Power of Engineering, Machinam and the Professional Leaders Institute, secured partnerships with the likes of Qantas, Toyota and Energy Australia. Felicity now works with high-performing teams to give emerging leaders across every industry the skills they need to make an impact and drive meaningful change.
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Hello and welcome back to 2021. I hope that you had a great break over the holidays and a good start to the new year. As I’m recording this it’s already February the second, so we’ve well and truly arrived in the new year.
For me, this is a very, very special year because I’m actually currently pregnant with my second son and I’m due in about three months. So it’s very exciting to go into this journey as a business owner this time around and having a little baby.
So we will see how that all goes, but I’m really excited that we’ll be adding to our family.
for now, I’m really excited to kick off the second season of the Lead Like YOU! Podcast.
And This season it’s all about sharing stories and meeting amazing leaders in our community. I’m going to be sharing interviews with leaders and business owners from all walks of life.
Some have just started their [00:01:00] career. Some are already well-experienced and have managed teams or businesses for a while. We will talk about key topics every week and share their personal experiences and ideas behind the topic.
And we’re kicking things off with a very special friend of mine, Felicity fury, and you will hear all about her story, but she’s an absolute powerhouse and already has created so much impact in her career and her life.
So let’s get started. Enjoy this episode. [00:02:00]
Anne: Hi everyone. And welcome back to another episode of the Lead Like YOU! Podcast. And today we will be talking all about how we can build our leadership brand in 2021. And we will dive into how we can set ourselves up for success and how we can sell ourselves this year as leaders in our field.
And today I’m joined by my friend Felicity Furey and felicity is an absolute powerhouse. She is an award winning business owner, but she’s also an entrepreneur and an engineer. And that’s actually how we connected. So I met Felicity, I think about two years ago, actually, we didn’t meet I just saw you on stage speaking at an international [00:03:00] women’s day event.
And I was so impressed by her and you know, how she spoke and the history and the causes that she was working for. And also that she was an entrepreneur and an engineer, and I just had to reach out afterwards. So got in touch with her and we started to yeah. Catch up regularly and since then have even done some events together and kind of kept each other accountable on this little journey. Because yeah, just a few months after I met you, I think I started my own business as well. Felicity has been a big part and support throughout my business journey. So she has worked as a civil engineer on major infrastructure projects, but she’s also founded several successful businesses that she will talk a little bit about in a second as well.
And now, lately, she’s also working within her own leadership program that she’s running for millennial leaders. So we kind of working in the same field there, which is really exciting. So welcome Felicity to this podcast and my YouTube video. I’m so excited to have you here on the podcast [00:04:00] and yeah welcome.
Felicity: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk about leadership. One of my favorite topics. It’s awesome.
Anne: Yes. Amazing. So why don’t we start with, yourself and you introduce yourself a little bit and just, how would you best describe yourself?
Felicity: Hmm. Good question. So growing up, if I think about the context of leadership, and I was thinking about this before we had this session today, what was leadership like for me growing up?
And I felt like I was someone who inside, I really wanted to be a leader, but didn’t know how. And probably the first experience I had with putting myself forward as a leader was at school. When you, you know, you do like the school captain or the heads of house and that kind of thing. And I put myself forward and I didn’t get it.
And I had no idea why. And I remember being really disappointed and that was sort of when the first barrier to leadership came up for me. And then I became an engineer and started to notice around the workplace that there weren’t many people like me. There weren’t many women in engineering. So I wanted to do something about that.
I was stick of [00:05:00] that talk about it. I wanted to actually go and create change. So it didn’t sort of set out to be a leader in that area. I just wanted to go make something happen and make a difference. And it was kind of like more of an anger and frustration than anything else. So that really kick-started my leadership journey when I was about 25 years old.
And when I started my first business. So as you mentioned, I’ve got a couple of businesses, some are in STEM education, one in leadership education and property, and a whole range of different things. And I love getting to mix that business side of things and also that engineering mindset together.
Anne: So, can you just share with us a little bit about, like, I imagine you started off after your studies in a very traditional career, you know, as an engineer, so as did I, and then what kind of created the spark or the courage for you to start your own business, and actually go into that entrepreneurial space so early on?
Felicity: Well, yeah, you’re right. It was very traditional. I left school, went to university and became an engineer because my teacher inspired me to do that. And I thought to be a [00:06:00] good engineer. You sit at your desk, you do calculations all day. You become a graduate, then an engineer, then a senior engineer.
And my ambitions for my career when I was in my twenties was to be a team leader one day. That’s all I kind of could hope for. Cause that’s all I could see around me. And this opportunity came up to run this event for girls. And I put my hand up to say, I’m going to lead it. And what was great about that was I got outside of my workplace and it started off as a, as a side project and working outside of work hours. But actually what I learned was so valuable for my career because I got to say that I have strengths in communications and working with people and I thought good engineers, like I said, do calculations and that those strengths weren’t really valuable in the engineering workplace. So I started to learn so much about my capabilities that I had no idea about.
So it started off as one event for girls to find out about engineering and we had amazing results. We had 57% of the students change your mind from a no to a yes about engineering. So I was totally hooked from that moment [00:07:00] and it was more so amazing. Yeah. Change I could make. And the potential for this idea that got me excited.
And in our first year we had no bank account. We weren’t registered as a not-for-profit, which I don’t recommend people doing at all, but I just wanted to make it happen. So I called in favors from so many people. And that first year we ended up having 10 events together and reaching 850 students. So that kind of that spark and that drive kicked in, then when I saw here’s the difference I could make and also, well, I could actually do something if I put my mind to it.
Anne: Amazing. Well done. I’m so impressed by that because when I reflect back on myself, I mean, I did a, I did a bachelor and a master’s degree, right after another, and in Germany it takes a little bit longer to finish university. So I think I only entered the workforce really at the age of I want to say maybe 26.
And by that time you had already started with, you know, your, your own business in that age. So looking back, I’m like, wow. If I compare that journey, it’s a completely different journey. And I feel like [00:08:00] you’ve learned some skills really early on that have allowed yourself to now actually be so, broadly faceted in your career and in the choice that you make, which is pretty amazing.
But I also love that you were so invested in supporting, girls to make that decision to join the engineering field. Cause I remember that I was just one of a few and it never really bothered me, it was an issue or I never really thought much about it until I really started my career and I was in meeting rooms all the time just the only girl in there. I mean this could be a whole nother podcast episode, I think. Maybe we have to do that in a few interview months time.
But yeah, very impressive. Hi by that by your journey.
And so your whole career was obviously a bit different than to other people. And how would you define, what kind of leader are you like? What are the roles where you are showing you leadership nowadays?
Felicity: Good question. I’ve been talking about this with my husband a lot, because most recently we started a business together and he’s very different from me and also not an engineer. So he has a completely different way of thinking. So for me, I’d say my strengths are [00:09:00] coming out with a vision and getting people on board with an idea being that front facing person.
And how I learned that about myself was actually asking mentors. So asking them, what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? My weaknesses would be not really great at the follow-through and that kind of detailed backend side of things. So that’s why I think it’s important for people well, to understand their strengths and you do some great work on that of helping people understanding what their strengths and leadership are, because then you can pair that to substitute those weaknesses as well. So yeah, definitely the vision side of things and getting people excited, kind of like rallying the troops would be my approach. And I love the idea of this servant model of leadership.
So I really having the people lead and people getting up underneath each other. And I think to do that is to lead from the back and really support and nurture people and their goals and their strengths.
Anne: I love that. Yes. I’m all about the strengths. And for me also, that’s been one of them major things are learnings in my career.
Cause I like, even though I studied engineering, I was never a detailed engineer. Like I was never interested in [00:10:00] all the nitty gritty, you know how some engineers to tell the story. So even as a kid, They kind of disassembled a car and then put it back together. And they’re really wanted to understand how everything works.
I always got a bit bored by all that detail, to be honest for me, it was always about the big picture and really driving that. And so, you know, when I went into my role, like for me, it was about manufacturing engineering and really planning how a product is made. But like from a top-down point of view and really starting to look from start to finish, but not the really detail.
And so for me, it was really early on that I moved into team leading roles because that allowed me to have that a bit broader view instead of being responsible for the little details. And so that’s how I found my leadership purpose, I think, was just to lead and lead the bigger vision as well.
So very similar to you.
But what I love about your story and your examples is that it almost seems like you’ve created your own opportunities to be a leader.
And I always say in my work with my clients, that everybody can be a leader. Because for me, leadership is about creating impact and having a [00:11:00] message to share and having the courage to step up and share your message and really creating impact and change. And that can be in all kinds of different capacities.
So I really love that you have all these different facets where you actually show up as a leader in your own businesses, but also in your work as an employee. But then also now you’re just creating your new businesses and the new way of working. Would you like to share a little bit about that?
How do you define yourself as a leader? Like how did you come up with these ideas? And when did you realize I am actually a leader in this?
Felicity: I think it was that moment where I put my hand up in the meeting to say, I want to do something about this.
That was a really defining moment for me. And I think every day we have choices and I love that Viktor Frankl quote between stimulus and response, there is a space. And so each day, we have a moment to choose to be a leader. And it goes in every area of life. Like you said, like even in families, you know, I know, like for example, my husband, his mom has been diagnosed with dementia and he’s really had to step up to be a leader in his family and to bring everybody together.
So it’s not just in our workplaces [00:12:00] and there’s so many, moments in our lives that we have that opportunity to be a leader. And I think the first thing for people to think about is where are those opportunities and being open-minded to them and switch onto the opportunity. Because if we’re sitting here complaining about like, I never get opportunities, or there’s no way I could sort of step up, then we’re first of all, closed to that opportunity.
So I think by being open-minded about it and looking for, and it could actually be something that’s really, really small and simple. Putting my hand up to run an event like that doesn’t even that doesn’t sound like a big deal. Right. But the way that we did it, where we got companies involved, hundreds of volunteers, it became this really big, exciting thing.
There’s so much potential when you start saying yes to things and taking on yourself as a leader. And I think the important thing for each person to think about is what are you standing for as a leader? What are you fighting for? Are you fighting for equality or gender diversity or is it something simple?
Like I’m looking at my coffee cup here, which is a disposable coffee cup. Is it around the environment or climate change? What is that thing for you? [00:13:00] And once you’re clear and settled with yourself, then you can be unstoppable. I think, in your leadership.
Anne: Amazing. And that’s a really great segue into our topic today when we talk about a leadership brand, because one key aspect of your leadership brand is actually knowing your purpose and becoming really clear about your purpose.
And you’ve right. Once we know that, then we can create those opportunities ourselves, because then we become a leader for this purpose and that can take any form, shape that we want it to be, to create that impact and achieve that purpose. So let’s dive into that a little bit more. What do you think makes a really strong leadership brand?
Felicity: I think there are three things that make a strong brand. The first one is doing the work for yourself and doing the thinking on what do you stand for? What do you believe in? And what’s your purpose? So doing some exercise on finding your, why, creating a vision for yourself and your life. So when you have that vision and you have those big goals and I’m talking like 40 year goals, as well as the next three years and the next 12 months, when you’ve got that vision, then you have got those goalposts to head towards. [00:14:00] So that might change over time, but you’re setting yourself on that course and into that direction. And you might go down that path, find out a goal is not one that you want to achieve, which definitely happened for me. And then you got to that point because you set that intention in the first place.
So the first phase is really what are you standing for? Like when the chips are down, when you’re tired, when you’re lying, but I don’t want to, what are you going to be fighting for?
And the second thing is being really clear in your communication, clear for yourself and a clear message to other people.
So if someone asks you what’s your vision or what’s your why, you have it, you are on top of it, and you never know when you’re going to be in an elevator with a CEO, literally that’s happened to me or a mistake, phone call from Toyota, which they were trying to find another company that did what we did.
And I pitched them on what we did. And we ended up getting funding to run projects. You just never know when that was going to happen. So being really clear about it and I encourage people to practice it, practice it in the mirror, practice it with your friends.
And then the third thing is repetition. And one of my mentors shared this with me about the work we did with the not for profit which is called power of [00:15:00] engineering.
And I thought it was kind of boring that we just did the same thing over and over again, like: we run free one day events for girls and regional students in year 9 and 10 to inspire them about engineering careers. I said that thousands of times, and I find it a bit like, Oh my gosh, I said it so many times, but what my mentor said was really valuable about that was that that repetition people was so clear about what I was up to. They could see where I was going and I could get on board with that. So it might seem like I said this once before, why am I saying it again? But repeating to the market or people, what your brand is, is really, really important and powerful.
And it could be something simple. Like for me, mine is around being authentic, being passionate and being inspiring. So when I’m out there talking to people, I check in with myself, am I being that right now? So it could be something as simple as that in the way that you communicate as a leader.
Anne: So kind of what you’re hinting there too, is also being really clear on your values as well and what you really stand for and how you want to portray yourself to the world or to the people that you [00:16:00] meet. Really interesting.
So I really love how you, how you put that together.
And I think even when we look at that from a perspective of someone that is in a corporate career, I think being really clear about our goals is really important. It can be quite difficult. Cause I remember when I was in the corporate world and I was in there for 10 years, right.
Doing my leadership, like climbing the ladder, as you say. Um, and it worked really well. I was successful, but I found it always really hard to know what the next step would be, because it’s really hard when you’re in it to see, especially when you’re at the start of your career, to see where else you can go or what the opportunities are up there because you don’t know the roles and the business’s a bit different up there.
But the problem is that if you have a great manager, they’re really good at giving you some words and helping you figure out what the next step is. But most managers, or often what I found was they were not really good at that themselves. So then they couldn’t really tell me where my path could go.
So it was really about me starting to to talk to people in other industries in my company, read, do research, [00:17:00] listen to podcasts , starting to research and connecting to people to hear about what else is out there. What else are opportunities so that I could become really clear about where do I want to go?
And of course, that has changed now from being in a corporate world to now running my own business. But I think you’re really right there that it’s up to us to know what is our goal? Where do we want to go and find ways to explore what that could look like? You mentioned mentors. I think that’s an amazing and important part on anybody’s journey to really have these mentors that are this one step ahead or two steps ahead.
And can help us to, to get that inspiration. But I think it’s really important to take charge and ownership of where we want to go and what that could look like.
But it can feel quite daunting to think about your purpose. So what would be your tip to, to get started? Like how would people figure out their purpose?
Felicity: Oh, that’s a great question. And before I answer that, I’ve just had a flashback of how I’ve not done as well. So I might share that and, you know, I was just so scared of my managers and like making mistakes and early in my career. I mean, [00:18:00] I apologize to anyone who met me, then I feel like I was like a scared little mouse.
It just, Oh my gosh, don’t screw it up. Don’t ask too many questions
I really was to the point where I would spend the whole conversation with my manager, I remember at one time he was explaining how to design a dam wall thing. And I just was thinking, Oh my gosh, I have no idea what he’s talking about. It’s just so overwhelming. And then I finished the conversation, I thought, Oh my gosh, I have no idea what.
He just talked about, and then I can’t ask any questions because I was just in my head so much thinking about what he talked about. So I think one of the first things to barriers to people’s purpose is that thing, all these voices in your head that can get in the way and something as simple as that, of just feeling like, I don’t know what he’s talking about can really interrupt that.
And I’ve also been in conversation with managers where they’ve asked me what my goals are and I’ve literally because I haven’t done the work. And I haven’t been clear on that. I’ve just said to my manager, what I think they want to hear. Terrible idea, because then they’re going to go looking for roles in areas that they think I want to do, which is actually not what I want to do, but that’s what I said to them because [00:19:00] I thought I’d get fired because I was so scared about screwing it up.
So I have done this very badly in the past, and it’s been a long journey. And I think when it comes to purpose, don’t worry if you don’t get this overnight or next week or even next year, it’s a long-term game. And for me as an engineer who likes efficiency, getting stuff, done that’s a hard thing for me to grasp..So to work out my purpose. I actually found reading a book by Simon Sinek, really helpful, the power of why. And the moment I just started my purpose, I was on a run. I was training for a marathon, actually, Sydney Harbour. And I don’t know what line of the book it was, but it just dawned on me like, wow, that is one thing that drives me.
So I definitely recommend reading that book. And for me it was, I help people be and do things they never thought they could be or do. And when I realized that, it like unraveled all these things to me. So we have, one of my businesses helps students in high school love maths, then there’s the engineering one. “I didn’t think I can be an engineer” now. There’s the leadership programs that I’m running. And so that is helping young people be leaders, that they didn’t think they [00:20:00] could be. So it just, my life made sense to me. So when, you know, when you’ve got it, when everything kind of makes sense and another place that really helps me do that is just sitting in nature and having that kind of happy place that I go to.
So that would be another recommendation while you’re doing that work, is go to a place that really inspires you and just really tap into your authentic self. It does not matter what your purpose is, but no one is going to judge you for whatever you say, and it’ll just light you up. So people will really see that.
Anne: Hmm. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I, I work with my clients a lot on finding the purpose. So my clients that come to me and join my three month program, actually, the first thing we do is working on the leadership brand and the leadership identity and working on the purpose is one of the key elements.
And it does take a lot of time and I always tell them like, don’t, don’t even get too concerned about what it sounds like or having the perfect written, you know, your purpose when you just shared it. Yeah, of course. You know, it sounds amazing, but I’m sure the words were not there right away to make it sound like that.
Right. So sometimes [00:21:00] we know what it is and it just is like a bit weird fragmented, two or three sentences, some are put together and over time it becomes this really nice fleshed out version that is easy for us to repeat and just sounds good for us and other people.
But I think a lot of people they always think, Oh, but it has to be this magic wording. And I have to have the slogan of my life and you don’t right. Like, it’s not about getting it perfect straight away. It can take time. But it’s so important to really do that and start that early on and just sit with it and keep thinking about it and reconnecting.
For me to really find my purpose has taken years because I was in this corporate career for 10 years where I became a leader. And throughout the leadership journey, I realized what I enjoyed the most was actually developing other leaders and really stepping into their strength and become courageous leaders. But I didn’t know that that was what it was. You know, I did that and enjoyed that, but I was still in a manufacturing world and doing all the things so.
I think then I was on maternity leave and I started to think about it and suddenly see [00:22:00] opportunities. And then at some point I’m like, yeah, that’s what I gotta do. I got to help other leaders and emerging leaders become confident leaders that are courageous, that lead with their values that lead with their strengths and really help them step into that.
And really for me, it was changing the way we do leadership as well and changing the way, especially in the engineering industry. I find there’s lots of old style, old school leadership.
So I think changing that and, and encouraging people that they can all become leaders, whether they have people reporting to them or not. So for me, that’s kind of how my purpose has developed. So I think it can be a journey, but as long as we start to think about it early on and start to reflect on it regularly so that we have something that we’re working towards to, I think that’s kind of the key.
Felicity: Yeah, definitely. And you might think at something and try it on and it might not be that. And that’s okay too. I love the expression of it’s like trying on a jacket in a shop and thinking, you know, does this fit right? Or like, I think it does when you get home. And you’re like, Oh, actually it’s not what I thought it was.
And I think purpose can be a lot like that: is you might try something on and think, yes, that’s it. You might even do a project. You might [00:23:00] start to. You know, align your life to that way. And then you realize, Oh, it’s actually a bit different, but again, you’ve gone through that process and you can kind of cross that one off your list.
So don’t be afraid to start and actually try it on like a jacket and keep going with it. And then you can always take the jacket off, but on a new one,
Anne: Exactly. And you can just change and it’s a bit of a journey, isn’t it like who knows what we will be doing in a few years and where this is going to go.
And I think it’s quite a fluid process too, and it can be your purpose, but then it can take a whole different shape. Like your purpose, as you said yourself, you have the different businesses and in each business, it looks actually different the way you deliver their purpose. So again, it can be very flexible and very fluid to know your purpose and spend some time on it.
And I talked about values before and I do actually have a resource if anybody wants to work on the values, I have a workbook that you can download at annekoopmann.com/values and it will guide you through a few exercises to actually start to define your values as the baseline to build your leadership brand.
Let’s talk a bit about 2021. And what is key now that we’re entering this new year? And especially when we think about last year [00:24:00] and how COVID-19 has suddenly changed, especially here in Melbourne, in Australia, where it suddenly has changed the way we do work completely. And so many businesses are still yet a year later working remotely, teams are remotely, some teams are returning or on a roster system. What do you think becomes important if we want to establish or position ourselves as a leader in 2021?
Felicity: Hmm. It’s a really interesting question and such an important time as we’re kicking off the year to be thinking about this.
So a few years ago, I was working on a couple of projects, actually, when I was an engineer with the firm Arup I was working on our new office, which was activity-based working. So we actually set up a lot of our offices to create connection to create that networking, to create those accidental conversations.
And now that we’re working from home, I feel like it’s dramatically reduced. And I was even speaking with a mentor this week who was sharing about one of the boards that she’s on and she said, I really miss those conversations at the end, where you go, Oh, how do you [00:25:00] think that went? And you actually get that kind of vibe or, you know, interaction, or you might find out key pieces of information before and after meetings.
And that’s not happening right now because we’re locked into these zoom calls. So I think it’s really important for people who are aspiring leaders or in leadership roles to increase the number of accidental conversations that we’re having. And I know I’m guilty of this. I might send a couple of emails backwards and forwards to book in a time when I could pick up the phone, have a two second conversation. Hey, just checking in. How are you? Going. And so I’ve started to do that on my morning walk where I call up a couple of people and see how they’re going and having those random out of the blue conversations myself. And it’s been amazing, the connection that I’ve got from that. So I think the first one is really increasing the level of conversations you’re having that are the accidental ones.
And then. There’s a lot of places that you can still turn up to, even though you might be online or working from home. So now more than ever taking on some of those extracurricular opportunities are a great way to network and connect and [00:26:00] you might feeling a bit, um, maybe scared or might not like networking.
I know a lot of people don’t. SO it could just be starting small, like just turning up to the event then after you feel comfortable with that speaking up and saying something, and then after that, it might be taking it to another level and stepping up and stepping up with the latest to put on your own event and something like a progression, like that could be a really great way to start to test out and experiment with your own personal leadership while we’re working in these remote environments.
Anne: Hmm. And it’s also a really good way to start to position ourselves as a leader, right? Because if we are in a remote environment, it’s really hard and we’re missing those little conversations, also really hard to position ourselves and kind of put our hand up and be like, Hey, I’m here and I’m ready to take on the leadership role because sometimes, I mean, there’s a lot in the office that happens, right?
There’s a lot of conversations that happens just on the hallway or somebody has an idea and quickly pulls someone in and they just have a discussion and all of that is kind of missing now. And so sometimes we might think we’re missing out on opportunities or we’re not seen. So doing these extra activities [00:27:00] or joining networking events, but also putting our hands up for some extra work in the office even, could be really beneficial to position ourselves.
And when we think about communication, how can we connect with people, even if it’s via zoom, how can we make that even stronger? What do you think?
Felicity: Oh, good question. I know for me, like, I’ve been, I have my put my makeup on sort of treat it like a professional meeting, put on my suitable work attire.
So I think the most important thing is, you feeling confident in yourself and then having that connection, so making eye contact. Like for example, I ran some leadership sessions this week, where there were people who didn’t have the camera on. And I did find it a bit harder to connect with them. And, uh, I really would have preferred to have their camera on, but also, you know, maybe they weren’t comfortable, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it as well.
So I think if you’re wanting to step up as a leader, then your communication as a leader, isn’t just the words you say. It’s how you look, how you present yourself. If you look like you’re working from a basement, then, is there something you can do [00:28:00] about that even like a virtual background is important.
So there’s a lot of different ways we can communicate as a leader when we’re over zoom or online. And it’s about taking that initiative and thinking about all of those different facets that you communicate.
Anne: Mm, I like that. I think that’s really good how we present ourselves and how we make sure that we still come across as professional as well.
And I think an important thing to add though, is as well, if we now communicate more remotely with our teams, let’s say we already have a team, it’s really important. I think that we put in that extra effort because these accidental conversations are missing. Right. And we actually have to make up for that.
I worked with a few groups over last year and it was just interesting to see how some of them had not even thought about how they could add in the socializing aspect of the team, how they could think about, coming together just for lunch, for example, like these little things of connecting on a deeper level and getting to know people, because I think key to leadership nowadays,
so when I think about leaders and how they should position themselves, I think he, as you said, connection is really [00:29:00] key and that goes to a deeper level, right? It’s about building that trust, getting to know the people on your team. And it does take more effort now because we have to really put the time in, we have to call them, as you said, we have to think about like social activities.
And I know some teams that did it so well, they got really creative without making it overbearing because of course we all spend lots of time on zoom and at some point, yeah, you’re like, okay, I’m over it now, like, turn the camera off. But they still got creative. And then there’s teams that have not done anything . So I think putting in the extra effort really thinking about how can I connect to the different people? What do the people need? Some love group setting, some love this one-to-one conversation.
And I love how you said, like you call people on your walk because. That can be powerful too, to just move it away from zoom and just have a phone conversation just for a change. And instead of being in zoom, let’s all just move, go for a walk and we just have a chat and not even about work. I just want to know how you going. I think that was really a really good point, too.
Felicity: Thanks. And I think there’s also little things as well. You just reminded me, it could sound like a big thing. Like [00:30:00] you’ve got a big, you know, a big deal to have a meeting or whatever on soon, but there are so many little ways that you can engage people as well.
So some of my little tricks that I do, if I’m facilitating, I might start off with a song as part of the session. Lovely day is one of my favorite go-tos just to get people in a great mood and then little interactions and engagement. So there might be people, like I said, with their camera off, but I’ll say when you finish the exercise, give us a thumbs up when you’re ready to move on and Chuck an emoji in, or, you know, they do like physical thumbs up or kind of how you going and yeah.
It might seem small and to begin with when I was first using zoom, I didn’t really think much of it. I just thought, well, that’s a really helpful thing for me is as the leader of the conversation to know where people are at, but I found when doing little things like that or asking a question and popping it in the chat, it gets so much more engagement.
And when you establish that from the beginning, then you kind of get on a roll out. Have you found that with your communication online as well?
Anne: Totally. And I had to learn really quickly as well. Cause I remember that, Because I was teaching at Melbourne university the whole last year and we were in semester one [00:31:00] and I think in week three, we suddenly had to move to online teaching and we had one week to get ready. And suddenly you think about, because I’ve always done facilitation and training, even in my corporate role. Training and facilitation has been part of my role for the 10 years.
So I’ve been so confident in leading the room, being in the room with people, and having a bit of fun and banter and getting everybody involved and checking in with the quiet people. And I was like, Oh God, how do you do that over zoom suddenly when you have 20 people, 30 people, 40 people over zoom.
And then, yeah, I did so much research and try out and I, I have to agree, like it’s the little things. So you don’t even have to think about massive, complicated things. It’s the little things. Some warmup activities. One of my go-to things and people who’ve been in my trainings and programs, they know I always get people to get up and do some squats in between for example, or sometimes pushups or whatever we come up with because it just gets the energy moving, people laugh.
And, you know, there’s lots of little things that you can do to just break it up a bit, but also get people engaged. Some people are not confident speaking up and unmuting themselves and talking on zoom, they [00:32:00] find that really weird and awkward and maybe in a in-person setting, they would do it maybe, but maybe on, on zoom somehow it’s just different.
So then having an opportunity for them to either the annotation function is really good on zoom as well. Either use that or having the Chatbox where they can just ask questions or comments or. Answer a question without having to unmute themselves. It’s really important just to cater for all the different people you have in your team.
And I think that’s why it’s so important as a leader to really tune into who are the people that I’m talking to, who are the people that are in my team that I’m interacting with and your stakeholders too. Of course, if we talk about selling our brand, right, who are the people that I’m interacting with and how can I connect to them on a deeper level?
What are their preferences and how can I really create that relationship, I think is really key. There’s a big learning curve, it’s kind of interesting as well, cause we never stopped learning and evolving don’t we.
Felicity: Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s funny you say that around the communication , we did a team exercise where when we could meet in person or what were people’s communication preferences in my team at Swinburne university.
And [00:33:00] I love picking up the phone and calling people and not everybody does. And I think, Oh my gosh, that’s crazy. It’s so such a great way to connect, to get the answer straight away. But I found out my boss hates it. He loves text message and I feel like text message is really impersonal.
And, I feel like I just, it’s not a form of communication that is my preference. And so it makes sense that why, when I call my boss, he sounded a bit, I don’t know off-put or I wouldn’t say grumpy, but just a bit. I thought there was something wrong. I thought I’d done something wrong or, you know, those immediate negative thoughts came into my mind, but actually he just doesn’t like phone calls.
So ask me a simple question. If you have a team, how do you like to be communicated with can be so powerful and it’s totally changed how I communicate with my team and we actually filled it out on a, almost like a business model canvas but kind of our team canvas. And we put them up on the wall, but we also got a digital photo of it, so I can actually look it up and go, Oh, that’s right.
This person likes this way. And this person likes the other way. I’m going to go to their preferences. And it’s actually been so much easier to communicate and relieving.
Anne: I love that. I think. And [00:34:00] it’s just so important to, first of all, understand, like when I run communication training, we talk about that.
We talk about the different preferences and also how people take in information. And that often there’s so much going on in people’s minds. So even if they’re react in a certain way, It often has nothing to do with us. Like with your boss, you know, he’s just doesn’t have the preference. So really tuning in and asking people, how would they like to stay in touch?
When we just started to move to remote work last year with a lot of my clients, we really talked about check in with each of them and define the best approach for them. How many one-on-one check-ins do they want to have? Is it zoom, is it over the phone? Do you do email check-ins? How do you follow up on their work?
Because it’s much harder because they can’t just come knocking at your door anymore and just pop their head into your office. So really understanding how would they like it and together define a plan is so important. Don’t assume. I think it’s just so easy to just ask.
And as a leader, you got to learn to be a bit flexible. So if you don’t like phone conversations, but your team members, do you just have to, I say things sometimes as well, be flexible and, and practice that and just [00:35:00] be okay with it.
Because I think that’s part of leadership is to be able to adapt to these different preferences of your team members, even if it might not be your preference.
Felicity: Absolutely. And you don’t need to be the team leader to implement this. Right? You can start now, whatever your role is in the team, you can be a team member like I’m in one of my teams, I’m not the leader. And you can actually start to test out some of these things before you get there. And actually that is showing leadership and your team will see that you care. And that is leadership, I think. So you don’t think, Oh, I’ve got to wait on the team leader before I met these things.
Test them out now.
Anne: Such a good point because that’s, again, the thing about leadership, it’s just, how can you create impact? How can you create strong relationships and position yourself as a leader? And you can do that in any position where you at. You can do that just for you and your relationships and how you communicate with your colleagues.
So what would you say when you think back on your life so far, your young life, what has been like your biggest leadership lesson?
Felicity: It probably comes from my biggest leadership failure and I strongly believe that [00:36:00] you, the more you fail, the more you learn and that’s how we can actually have the most learning.
So a couple of years into starting power of engineering, the first business I started, we had gotten funding would run these events. We’d gone into different States across Australia, things are going really well. And we also had a small number of really dedicated volunteers. And I thought to be a good leader, you should, kind of give people the space and freedom to create whatever they wanted.
I would say “I’m a don’t tell me what to do” person don’t really like having a manager. I’m not a very good employee, so that’s what I thought everybody wanted.
And within a short period of time, we actually had all of our volunteers leave and it was just me and my co founder, Jillian. And I remember when the last volunteer called up to say they quit. I was on my balcony in Sydney and it was a sunny day. And I just thought, should we just stop?
Should we just stop this organization altogether? And I knew I did not want to stop because it was something I cared so much about. We also then had our funding cut. We were supposed to have three years of funding and they didn’t fund the third year. So we literally had [00:37:00] one partner come on board and it was such a small amount of money.
So it was a pretty bad situation. So I kind of regrouped and thought, okay, if I rebuild this, how can we rebuild it right. So the first person that I got on the team next was actually an HR professional. And so she really understood people. So she helped think about what are the kinds of people we want in the organization what are the kinds of experiences we want them to have and think about succession planning.
So from that, it had me realized that as a leader, you’ve got to be able to share that vision with people. You’ve got to have this vision for people to be drawn towards, to go. I can see myself in that. And when I work with new people on our team, I say, what are your goals personally? How do they align with that vision?
And actually I’ve had volunteers come on board, and if their goals don’t align with the vision, then it’s not the right fit for them. So being really clear about that, that vision, and then giving people some structure, and some boundaries to work around, really works. I thought it would be stifling for people, but people just want to know where they’re going and [00:38:00] those boundaries are really helpful. So it is that fine balance of vision and structure . And that’s, what’s exciting about being a leader is figuring out how to get those two things right.
Anne: Hmm. I love that. And I think some other thing that I can hear there is also to just again, look at what are your strengths actually, and what are the areas that just don’t come as natural to you, like really tuning into to the people and what they need and want.
So you brought someone in who really is passionate about that and can really start to take your vision, but actually bring it down to the people and transform that vision into pieces that align with the people or find the right people that align with that. So I think that’s really powerful as well, I guess, to understand this is where my strengths are. This is what I can do, or this is where I can shine. But yeah, fair enough here I probably wasn’t as strong, so a few things went wrong. No problem at all. How can I fix this? How can I rebuild this? So I think that was a powerful lesson that I could hear out of there as well.
Felicity: and I think anyone can be a leader it’s are leaders born or [00:39:00] made?
I heard that again recently, and I think leaders are made, if you really want it, you can train yourself. You can get the skills that you need, and absolutely starting with your strengths is the first piece, whatever they are. Great go with that and really are in that. I, it took me a long time to really own my strengths.
And that held me back for such a long time as a leader, because I couldn’t really fully express myself and my authentic self as a leader. So whatever your strengths are, they’re awesome. And embrace them and then find those gaps , and you’re going to learn from people and don’t try and be everything to everyone.
one of my mentors who was formally the CEO of Arup told me he went to a presentation where they talked about 16 leadership traits. Can’t remember what they were now. The person presenting said, you only have one trait that you’re really good at in this context. And he was a CEO of this massive engineering firm and he just felt like there was lot less pressure because of the all right.
I only need to be good at one thing, exceptional people are good at two things. And he said, he felt really relieved. And it certainly was relieving when I heard that from him because [00:40:00] I think I try and be good at everything. And I just know that I’m not, I don’t like saying I’m not good at things, but I’m not.
So we just need to own that and work to that.
Anne: Yes, exactly. And I think it’s such a good lesson because when you start, especially in the corporate world where there’s a certain perception of what a leader is. We are always measured against that and it’s kind of like this “one size trying to fit all” version of a leader. And so many times we just don’t fit it or people don’t get promoted because they’re lacking this or that. And that’s exactly what I want to work against because I think, yes, as you said, everybody can be a leader.
We just need to know what we’re good at and how we can use that to create the impact. How can we use that to build the relationships, to come up with ideas, to sell the ideas and to make it happen. And for each of those, we might need support. So we might not be good at all of these. We might not be good at selling it or making it happen, but for that, we can get people on board.
So really knowing that and honing into that I think is really, really key.
And, I always ask my guests at the end: [00:41:00] what does it mean for you to lead like you, and I know we covered quite a bit about that, but how would you summarize that? What does it mean for you specifically to lead like you?
Felicity: Owning my power would be the summary of that. And luckily I have a wonderful, gorgeous husband who reminds me how to own my power. Cause sometimes I forget about it and do things that are not so leaderly. So I think owning your power, whatever that is and being authentic is, yeah, that’s what it means to me.
Anne: Fantastic. Beautiful. Thank you so much for joining me today. I think we got a lot of good nuggets out of there and what can people do? How can they find you if they would love to hear more about the work that you do? Cause she does amazing work. So how can they follow you?
Felicity: Please connect with me on LinkedIn.
I love LinkedIn. I’m pretty obsessed with it. So connect with me there. Go to my website, www.felicityfurey.com and if you want to learn more about the leadership program, I’m running, all the information is on there. We’ve actually got a program kicking off in March, which goes for 12 months. [00:42:00] So. Check it out there.
I’d love to connect with you and thanks so much for listening to this session. Anne is super amazing. If you haven’t followed her follow all her things, Instagram on your website and podcasts, and, but also recommend connecting with add as well. She’s very inspiring online.
Anne: Fantastic. Thank you so much.
Thanks so much for joining me for giving your time. And yeah, I would love to hear from you. What has inspired you the most? What is something that you’re taken away? What is something that sparked something in you? Send us a message. Write a comment, write a review and let us know what you think and what you’re going to take with you for 2021 to build your leadership brand.
Thank you so much for tuning in and we will talk to you soon. Bye.