Who do you think you need to be to succeed in leadership?


As women, we often feel that we need to be ‘tougher’ or more directive to be promoted into more senior positions. However, literature suggests that people-focused leadership styles are more effective in motivating and retaining people.


A recent Harvard Business Review talk from Jacqueline Carter, entitled Compassionate Leadership: How to do hard things in a human way, centres on compassion and courage as key facets of leadership. Making difficult and sometimes tough decisions but being compassionate in how you communicate them is key, she says.

This resonated with me as it aligns with my own journey in leadership and that of many women who I have coached. Maintaining kindness for yourself and others whilst remaining connected to your values is key. It allows you to make difficult decisions and communicate them with compassion and authenticity.


An important point to make here is that we must also practice self-care and kindness to ourselves; over-use of compassion for others without looking after yourself can lead to burn out. I would also note when we are kind and compassionate to ourselves we are best placed to demonstrate authentic kindness and compassion to others.

If we believe that we don’t have to step away from being human and people-centric as a leader, there is scope for us to step into a leadership style and presence which aligns with our natural human desire to be compassionate, and to do so in a courageous way.


Both leadership style and presence start in our minds. The thoughts we have are influenced by our many experiences in life, some obvious and some which are less conscious. It is therefore worth exploring what our expectations of ourselves are as a leader:


  • Are these expectations based on my values or have I been influenced by models of leadership which do not serve me?
  • Am I trying to mould myself into more traditional styles of leadership and finding I am asking myself not to be authentic or to do things which do not sit comfortably with me?
  • Do I have strong female leadership role models who I can learn from?
  • Am I able to recall when I have been led in an inclusive manner?
  • Are my expectations of what a leader should look or be like stopping me from fully expressing my natural leadership style?


Think through these questions and reflect on your answers next time you feel as though you need to change your leadership style.

You can view Katrina’s coach profile page here: www.careeringintomotherhood.com/katrina-howells