We learn from the best, now don’t we? Many women may feel reluctant to step into leadership positions for any number of reasons. Sometimes we feel unqualified, or the someone else, usually a man, is better qualified. Sometimes our perfectionism kicks in, and then we become afraid of making mistakes.

But here’s an empowering truth: women are called to be leaders in the same way that men are. If you are confident and assertive, you can be a leader. If you are quiet and unassuming, you can be a leader.

There is no one right way to be a leader. Whatever field you are working in, whatever talents and personality you have—you can be a leader.

There are different leadership styles, and I’ve got some quotes from some of the best women leaders in history to help inspire and guide you. And, in case you’re an entrepreneur, here’s one article that can really help you “The best advice from successful women entrepreneurs.”

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What is leadership?

Lisa Cash Hanson, the CEO of infant pillow maker Snuggwugg, defines leadership as “the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished.” Indeed, leadership provides people with where they want to go because they want to go there.

Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi admitted what everyone already thinks—that real leadership is hard to define. But for her, it’s all about the ability to inspire people. She said, “if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.”

‘What if I don’t feel like a leader?’

I’m certain we all have days when we feel like we couldn’t lead anyone, let alone a whole team of people. But guess what? Leadership skills can be taught, caught and developed. You don’t have to be born with specific traits in order to become a leader.

An expert in leadership, Dr. Susan Madsen, who teaches Leadership and Ethics at Utah Valley University, says this: “Leaders are not just born. Sure, some people are born with strong competencies and strengths for leading in certain situations, but it is very clear that leadership can also be developed. That means everyone can strengthen their skills and abilities to lead and influence.”

How to become a better leader

Well, here are some pointers that you can apply so that you can step up your own leadership game.

1. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes.

Perfection is the enemy of done, right? If we want for all circumstances to line up before we actually step out and do something risky, like ask for a raise or vie for a leadership position, we will never, ever get anything done. This is the formula for a lot of frustration and regret in life.
“If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances,” says Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO & Co-Founder of Ellevest, an online investing company for women. Their goal: to close the gender investing gap.

I’m perfectly serious—change your mindset about making mistakes. What Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington said about failure and success really resonates with me. “We need to accept that we don’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes. Understand that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

2. Make criticism—in whatever form—your friend

Yes, criticism stings. Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” probably never heard some very painful zingers in their lifetime.

It’s not true, criticism can cut us to the heart, and leave a lasting mark that makes us afraid to try again.

Welcome criticism, whether it’s said constructively, personally, cuttingly or kindly. Take the truth that you know in your gut, and reject whatever’s not true that’s said to you. I know this is not easy, you need mental discipline for this.

Hillary Clinton, who needs no introduction, said this about criticism. “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

I’d take that from Hillary, who received criticism for anything and everything in her life, and yet managed to deal with it all with class and distinction.

3. Value your team—make their success your success

“The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first,” says author and lawyer Iyanla Vanzant. As a leader, you won’t be coming in first. You have got to be perfectly okay with this.

And why? Because the success of your team, individually and collectively, is your success. When the people you lead hit their creative stride, become top performers and end up loving what they’re doing in the process, you’ve got it made.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. Learn early that leadership is as much about service as it is about inspiration.

4. Share your passion.

This is one of Oprah’s secrets to success as a leader. She ignites everyone else with the things she feels passionate about. She said, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

When you’re ‘meh’ about work, guess what? Your team will be too.

This means self-care, and making sure you get enough rest and don’t burn out so that you can keep your passion alive.

5. Don’t get stuck in any place, no matter how good it is

Don’t ever stop growing. Your personal growth matters. I’m talking in terms of overall development—including your character, professionally speaking, as a partner and mother, friend, if any and all of that apply to you.

One of the Vice Presidents for cosmetics giant Revlon, Pam Alabaster, says, “Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement. Commit yourself to advancing your knowledge, skills, and expertise. The business environment is quickly changing, and your understanding of the leading practices, thinking, and emerging tools will help you manage for better results. Be a lifelong student.”

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You’ve got this.

Sometimes, all we need is an extra vote of confidence, and if you are reading this today—we vote for you. We believe in you. Step into your leadership. Take ground as a leader that you’ve never taken before. We bet you’ll even surprise yourself.

Here’s one last quote from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia, ps: all these gorgeous quotes are from here) “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

Hungry for more? We’ve got even more pointers for you in this article, “Tips on How to Empower Women to be Leaders.” Enjoy!

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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