Chief Executive Officer,
Women & Leadership Australia

Leading through the Great Resignation: Leaning into authentic leadership

Leading through the Great Resignation is a series of articles exploring the tools and frameworks that will help leaders effectively navigate emerging workplace trends, by Suzi Finkelstein, CEO at Women & Leadership Australia.

We need more women leaders.

In many ways, women have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Health, education and caring professions – all female-dominated sectors – have been our front line. At home, remote learning and extra caring responsibilities have often fallen to women. Women’s economic security, safety and mental health have suffered.

And through this period of upheaval, employees are feeling a disconnect with their workplaces. According to a new report from Microsoft, 37 per cent of the global workforce says their companies are asking too much of them: 54 per cent feel overworked and 39 per cent feel exhausted.

The same report shows that on the whole, business leaders are faring better than employees. The business leaders surveyed were more likely to be male, and further along in their careers. Women, younger people, frontline workers, and those new to their careers reported struggling the most over the past year.

That’s why we need more women leaders.

We need more women leaders who can lean into authentic leadership, leverage their strengths and experiences, and help teams and organisations strive for better outcomes.

The concept of authentic leadership is a critical one when it comes to empowering women to lead. In each of Women & Leadership Australia’s flagship leadership development programs, we delve into personal values and authentic leadership. Time and again we witness the shift that happens as women realise their personal traits, experiences and values can become their unique leadership super-powers. Leadership strategies can be learnt – but personal values and experiences bring unique strengths and opportunities.

For many women, leadership roles can feel out of reach. Understanding and cultivating authentic leadership allows them to find their voice and their place in leadership.

Having more women around the leadership table can, of course, lead to better business outcomes. But importantly, during this period of change, encouraging more women to step up into leadership roles can help businesses retain talented women, make development pathways visible to future women leaders, and progress the systemic and cultural shifts that many businesses need to make to re-engage their disconnected staff.

For many women, as we emerge from the pandemic, what we want from our workplaces is changing. Seeing more women in leadership positions is critically important – to both employers and employees – at this time of reflection and recalibration.

Tips for fostering authentic leadership

  • Reflect on your values – list the three values in life that are most important to you, and consider if and how you bring each of these values to your work
  • Spend some time developing your vision for yourself as a leader: what are your aspirations, what do you want to achieve, how do you want to be known?
  • Conduct ‘stay interviews’ with your team – don’t wait until they are leaving to ask them what they really want in their job – and consider how you can connect their values to improve team and business outcomes.


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