Introducing the seminar, he said military success depends on authentic, inclusive leadership, leading to high performing teams, adding “empowering our people to lead with greater authenticity, instead of adopting a style based on other people’s expectations, may unlock more leadership opportunities for women.”
During her discussion with moderator Angela Owen, the Founder of “Women in Defence”, Mrs May told the packed auditorium there is one piece of advice she always gives to women entering politics.
“Don’t try to fit a male stereotype, you must be yourself,” she said. “It’s one of the challenges in politics and business and possibly in defence, is people realizing women may approach an issue in a different way but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad way, and it doesn’t mean they’re going to get a bad result, they may get the same result or a better result, they just have a different approach. Recognising female skills I think is very important.”
The Right Honourable Theresa May MP speaks to Angela Owen of Women in Defence UK
Don’t try to fit a male stereotype, you must be yourself. It’s one of the challenges in politics and business and possibly in defence, is people realizing women may approach an issue in a different way.
Also taking to the stage was Sona Sherratt, Professor of Practice at Ashridge Executive Education. She spoke about the role Psychological Safety plays throughout high performing teams.
“The happier we are at work, the more we’ll offer to do extra things. It’s linked to a sense of belonging, it’s linked to a sense of feeling confident in who we are. And Inclusion helps businesses. It’s helpful to have people with different voices…different lived experiences which mean I might have something rich, something new to add to the conversation.”
Sona Sherratt, Professor of Practice at Ashridge Executive Education
Zara Mohammed was just twenty-nine years old when she was elected the first female, first Scot and youngest Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain in 2021.
She told the audience what she’s learned from the experience.
“Unless you believe in yourself, unless you have a really strong positive story about who you are, it’s really difficult to be a good leader,” she said. “In my leadership journey, I had to come to terms with my imposter syndrome, feeling like I couldn’t do it, and so the biggest thing I could say to you is feel really good about who you are… and if you struggle with that and you’re not really sure, then focus on a purpose, because great leaders are in tune with purpose.”
Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain
Joining the seminar by live video link from King’s College London, where she is Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Professor Rosie Campbell, asked “what next for women leaders?”
“Real strength and resilience is being able to take criticism and respond to it,” she said, “so my personal view is what we really want are humble and reflective leaders so they can listen to advice, they don’t take it as a personal insult, they actually want to listen to expertise and to correct mistakes and errors in direction when they’re identified, that’s what real strength in leadership is. I think when we celebrate that rather than attack it, that’s when we provide the opportunity for more diverse leadership styles to come to the top.”
Also listening in the audience was a group from the “Young people from the Future Leaders programme” – an award-winning leadership programme for young people in East London, empowering them to lead counter-hate work in their communities and reach their full potential.
The event was organized by MARCOM’s Helen Hale and Shelley Shah.
“There are many barriers to women and minorities attaining leadership positions,” they said, “particularly the highest roles. It was immensely empowering to hear first-hand, the experiences and advice of all our esteemed speakers. With events such as this seminar, success is measured by the small nudges in behaviour and giving someone the belief they ‘can be what they can see’.”