The 9 Skills Women Need To Advance Into Leadership

All of our 35 inspiring speakers at the Women In Leadership Summit last October, have one thing in common — they all have, at some point, gone through challenging setbacks. What pushed them to succeed is the confidence that comes from the mastery of a set of skills.

In this article, we have rounded up some of their best advice on the skills, capabilities and tools to help you advance in your own leadership journey.


Gabby Costigan


1. Self-belief and Courage

“You must trust in your capabilities and be willing to take a chance in the pursuit of leadership. A fear of failure means at times women tend to wait until they feel completely ready before making this leap. I’ve learned that if you feel 100 per cent ready for your next step the challenge is already too small for you.”


2. Adaptability

“Organisations today need to continually evolve in order to not merely survive, but to thrive and become enduring organisations that have a lasting legacy. As a leader, being able to flex and respond as needed and inspire this agility in your teams is a core skill. I have experienced my share of obstacles and setbacks, but it is my natural optimism, the passion for the Defence industry and the people we support that inspire me to continue to reach for new goals.”


3. Decisiveness

You need to be able to gather and take on the viewpoints of the people around you, but when it is time to make a decision it is you as a leader who needs to make the call. You must be prepared to do this even in the most difficult of circumstances.  This brings me back to having belief in yourself and courage in your convictions.”


Marnie Baker


4. Vulnerability

While many may see it as a weakness, in reality vulnerability is a strength because vulnerable leaders tend to inspire, are more authentic, and they build bonds that lead to increased performance overall. Embracing vulnerability means having the courage to face our fears. A vulnerable leader is willing to experience all the ups and downs that come with it and they know they can confront the brutal realities while maintaining faith they will ultimately prevail and also learn.”


Chelsea Bonner

5. Flexible Thinking

“There is a way ‘life’ looks like on paper and then a thousand small adjustments you may need to make to achieve your end goal. Don’t get yourself stuck working point A to point B. There are swings and roundabouts in every plan, it’s not a straight paved road to success.”


6. Conviction

“When you know you have a great idea it doesn’t mean that everyone will believe in it. You need to be able to back yourself 100% and keep finding new ways to express your ideas to a multitude of different people, in a broad range of circumstances, to be able to cut through with it. If you don’t have that conviction you will never be able to get others to back it.”


7. Resilience

“As women in business we are up against it all the way, from business loans and capital raising, to the hours we spend away from family and friends driving toward our goals. We are judged on a very different level than our male counterparts. Often, we end up feeling like we have to justify ourselves to everyone for wanting success in all areas of our lives. This is something unique to being female. You will be tested and will need resilience to keep going through the emotional blackmail you will be confronted with daily.”


8. Negotiation

“Vital for growth of any business. You need to be able to go into every situation with the ability to negotiate the outcome and close the deal. If you don’t learn how to push for sign off on any idea, contract or collaboration, you can waste months of time in meeting after meeting with no end in sight and going around and around in circles. The deal is never done until the paperwork is signed.”


9. Collaboration

“Reach out to every person in likeminded business you think of who can give you ideas or help to refine your own. Word of mouth is the most underrated tool for all businesses. Also sharing your thoughts and ideas in the spirit of collaborating and lifting each other up creates a village of likeminded mentors and peers that will be invaluable over the life of your career.”


If you want to learn from inspiring women on how you can create greater impact in your organization through leadership, register for The Empowered Woman 2020.

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NETWORKING – Actionable Strategies from Women in Leadership

Why All Leaders Need to Understand and Engage in MICROLEARNING

Why Managers Need to Engage in Microlearning

Winning the fight for talent

All over the world, across all industries surveyed by Gallup, only 15% of employees, on average, are actively engaged in their jobs. Consider the impact of this alarming statistic – 85% of staff are not adding value to their employers and draining company resources.

Low engagement leads to high employee turnover and with the falling supply of quality talent worldwide, more businesses are in danger of losing capacity to remain productive and competitive.

As a people manager, you play a critical role in winning this fight for talent. You need to make your team’s learning and development a top priority to successfully drive employee engagement, retention and productivity.


A call for managers to shake up L&D

You are in charge of people whose job it is to think, communicate, design, disseminate, create, innovate, and so on. Your operation runs on your team’s brain power and your job as a manager is to keep their minds fully engaged.

But the manager is not typically involved in L&D, you say. But you understand what your team is capable of and what the business needs from them more than anybody else. It only makes practical sense to take ownership of their learning and development.


Managers in the knowledge economy

How do you squeeze in the hours, energy and skill to train your staff with your demanding daily grind?

The trick is in identifying the easiest and quickest pathway to learning. You also need to consider building your team’s foundational knowledge throughout their career while steadily stacking up new skills along the way. This is ultimately a call for managers to revolutionise what we know as professional development by stepping up to become educators.

Welcome to Microlearning — the new way of delivering rapid, high-impact learning for your team through short bursts of training.


What IS Microlearning

Simply put, microlearning is an approach to learning that focuses on skill development by engaging in small units of learning. It can be characterised by the following:

1. It breaks down training into smaller bite-sized units
The idea is to communicate simple, short, actionable information

2. It is usually
self-paced and suited to fit schedules
Team members learn faster if allowed to manage their own time for training

3. It is custom designed for training goals
Whether digital, print, or in-person, microlearning is a flexible format for learning

4. It is single-outcome focus
Microlearning is intended to aid the learner in the performance of specific action.

5. It is agile and unstructured
There are no hard and fast rules to implementing microlearning except that it must be brief and actionable.


What is NOT Microlearning

1. It is not for learning complex concepts
Broad and multi-layered subjects need to be broken into simpler parts or topline bullets to be considered microlearning.


2. It is not for gaining deep expertise
The goal of microlearning is to impart simple information quickly, and not for in-depth study. The goal is to quickly learn a new skill, not gain deep understanding of a concept.


So, as a leader, how can you engage yourself and your team in microlearning?

1. First, identify critical skill gaps, then plug in the training content to fix it.
The onus is upon the manager to help team members stack up on skills and be excellent at their jobs. Microlearning allows managers to implement a learning plan with speed and urgency. A quick Google, YouTube or Linkedin Learning search will usually help you find the right training material to quickly mitigate a skill gap.

2. Tailor-fit content to specific training needs.
What most Learning and Development experts get wrong is that they dump a one-size-fits-all approach to training. Microlearning allows managers to quickly put together highly relevant and useful content for their teams’ individual training needs.

3. Engage with multimedia.
Don’t just paste whole blocks of text in an email and call it microlearning. In this era of short attention spans, the multimedia format – from a 2-minute slideshow, a 15-minute YouTube tutorial, a 1-hour podcast or 3 hour interactive workshop – is the fastest and most engaging way to learn new material.

4. “Gamify” the learning experience.
In case your online learning platform does not support gamification, get creative through some analogue fun and games, i.e. flashcards, boardgames, etc., that’s guaranteed to make the lessons stick.

5. Pop quizzes and other micro-assessments
Reinforce the lessons of microlearning with, you guessed it – micro assessments! A pop quiz or a 1-minute verbal summary will help you assess how your learners are retaining and using all the new information.

6. Register yourself or your team for a conference or training course
Perhaps the easiest way to engage in microlearning is to attend an event or workshop. Most training course facilitators are experts at delivering content in engaging, interactive ways, and large conferences feature experts at the top of their field delivering 40-60 minute sessions on hyper-specific topics.

Microlearning Infographic

It’s never too early to start a microlearning plan for your team! View our range of training and events, or get in touch with us directly to learn know more about the long-term business benefits of microlearning.

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Leading A Culture of Innovation – An Interview with MIKE BOYLE, Managing Director, HP ANZ

Mike Boyle, MD at HP on Leading a culture of innovation

Mike Boyle talks about how innovation touches all areas of the HP universe as a sneak preview of his keynote at the Executive Leadership Summit on November 26 – 29.  


How do you tell an innovation story beyond tech? At HP, leaders are creating a consistently outstanding brand experience inside and out – for the people who work in the tech giant, industry partners and the customers.  

When you talk to Mike about innovation, he can take you through the whole tech landscape of hardware, software, data security, manufacturing, and what’s happening in 5 to 10 years. But at the heart of all this is people.  

Innovation for Mike and HP is ultimately about caring for people in new and exciting ways. And you don’t have to be in tech to start a culture of innovation in your company. Here are some tactics, a few of them serious, but a lot of them fun and delightful, that you can steal from Mike and HP.  


Leadership style   

Mike loves to surprise his team by having chats with HP’s customers ahead of his salespeople, to casually check up on them. He is amused as he talks about the time when he caught one of his salespeople off-guard “They look shocked and say, “Oh, so you’ve spoken to them?” And I think that shows the organization that I’m listening. I’m probing at all levels.”  

He is passionate about being agile, as in to physically move around the office. Mike feels strongly about being ‘anti-desk’, adding that he is not the typical executive who is perched in his ivory tower.   

“I think that makes a statement to staff around accessibility. I’m not some person sitting in a boardroom the whole time and that I’m just accessible. I’m doing my job just like them. And I think that helps level the organization and remove, hopefully, some of the politics that can occur when you’ve got people with status and position.”  

Just genuinely caring about people, listening to them and the simple gesture of trying to know everyone by name is high up on Mike’s priorities as a leader. “I hate it when I don’t know someone’s name, and I’ll test myself until I know as many names as possible and what people do in the organization. To say ‘thank you’ a lot and bringing meaning in terms of what people do at work is so important. And I remind staff as well that we are making a difference.”  


Team engagement  

Mike is passionate about getting feedback from all sides at HP. “I love getting feedback. And I always say thank you when I get feedback because sometimes if you get into a business that doesn’t have that feedback loop, then nobody’s growing.”  

He recalls how a company-wide meeting turned into a fun musical jam session. “We do a quarterly, what we called Coffee Talk. No one knew why it was called coffee talk, and no one drank coffee at the coffee talk. So we renamed it, we called it our Quarterly Connect. It’s got nothing to do with boring PowerPoint slides and business analytics, et cetera. It was really, “Hey guys. This is about you. What are you thinking of? How’s the meeting going? What would you like to see more of?”   

“And in the end, we heard that they wanted coffee and they wanted to do it in the afternoon. They also said “we want to hear an HP band”, and I’m a keen musician. So we opened with a band in Melbourne and a band in Sydney. And it was amazing — the connection that people have made through seeing their peers get up and have fun and perform. It wasn’t an expensive exercise.”  

Mike also likes to start random conversations to check up on his staff.  

“I always sort of ask, “what do you tell your friends at the barbecue on the weekend?” I hope that they all go home and say, “You know what? I work in a company that does this and this and this. They’re agile. They’re removing processes.”  

“I had someone say, it was replayed back to me from someone in Singapore, “Oh, I heard about your boss. He actually listens, and then he acts on things.” You know, simple stuff, innovation.”  


Customer focus  

Mike is famously quoted for saying “You will never grow a business staring at a spreadsheet” because it’s just a reflection of what happened in the past. He says, “My job as a leader is to know what’s going to drive customer demands, brand engagement and brand positioning in the future.”    

Another charming story that Mike likes to tell is when customers slip him a complaint on Linkedin 

“I will get a disgruntled person and end up having some great relationships with people who have problems, and they tell their friends that HP from the top-down deeply cares. I think that if every employee and every partner that we’ve got delivers that same experience, then we’re a great brand to be on board with.”  

“Close to 90% of our business is done through partners. So if our partners are saying, “Deal with HP, you’ll have an exceptional experience,” then we’re in a really good position.”  


Next level technology  

Finally, an innovation story is not complete without talking about all sorts of cool tech that’s coming from the tech stalwart. Mike gives us a teaser for now as he will dive deeper into this subject in his keynote — “We’re a company that’s gone from scientific instruments, to computing, to printing and now into the world of 3D. And then that will also be AR, VR, 3D. So we are bringing the skills and the knowledge of how do we bridge that future.”   

The big thing for HP in 2020 is 3D. Worldwide, it’s a $7 billion business. Only a few years ago it was a 3.5-billion-dollar business. When asked, Mike remarks that “3D is going to change the landscape, as I say, around that manufacturing volume. We’re getting to a point where we’ve got tens of millions of parts that are being produced on our devices, on our printers as such, on an ongoing basis. And in some ways it’s not realistically printing, it’s actually a form of manufacturing.”  

One of the things that drew Mike to HP was the fact that it owns all of its IP from software, hardware and handling systems. It’s a little-known fact that HP is one of the biggest chemical companies in the world.   

“We’ve got huge IP around chemistry. And that has possibilities to move into med-tech, fin-tech, you name it. It’s about how do you get the cooks in the kitchen and use all of that IP and technology to create something. But whilst we’re on that journey, we innovate to the next level. For us, it’s about how do we build that bridge to the future and make it accessible to people.” 


Join Mike Boyle at the Executive Leadership Summit and learn how you can ensure your organisation stays relevant by driving meaningful innovation. 

Executive leadership summit


5 Strategies for Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Talent


For most companies, it has become a strategic imperative to transform traditional HR methods to adapt with the changing times and needs of the new generation of talent. Let’s look at the innovative HR practices in 5 areas of talent management to help you nurture and grow your organisation’s best asset. 

1. Performance Evaluation

 Employees perform different functions, engage in varying projects and workstreams. They operate on different timelines to achieve the same company goals. So it only makes sense to view performance from an agile perspective. The one-size-fits-all approach to performance evaluation is best left in the industrial age where people are assessed as part of an assembly line of workers. 

It may be time to think about designing appraisal methods that are custom fit for various employee groups. For example, hard metrics are useful for assessing rote workers while customer-facing teams are appraised on qualitative feedback. 

2. Coaching 

Companies who prioritise culture and value formation are investing in the training of would-be supervisors and managers on how to become effective coaches. We also see significant emphasis on communication and feedback training (the giving and the receiving) in an informal way from their peers and senior management. The idea is to fill the pool of future leaders in-house through self-paced learning. 

3. Compensation 

The approach to compensation and benefits is changing as well. In retail for example, spot bonuses are awarded as soon as a sales goal is achieved. Studies have shown that compensation is the best motivator when it is immediately awarded after the desired outcome. Instant reward and feedback can work wonders in driving performance, while projecting for an annual bonus is less effective because too much time goes by. 

In some companies, salary increases are not dependent on annual performance reviews. For example, increases are only given to employees who put their hand up for difficult projects or go above and beyond their current role to solve big, hairy problems. 

4. Recruitment 

Recruitment is no longer an exclusive function of the HR department. These days, the fight for talent is so aggressive that companies need to harness teams across all functions to get positions filled with the right people, fast! 

Companies are also relying on tech solutions to hunt and track candidates online who are best matched for their requirements.  

5. Learning and Development 

The challenge for L&D, just like recruitment, is to bring new modules for teams to learn and perform new skills, fast! While there are online learning tools for employees to access on-demand, the question remains whether a digital learning platform is enough to keep your best talent in the company. 

L&D needs to pay close attention in the actual “development” part by institutionalising mentorship as an essential component to growing and retaining talent.  


infograph- 5 strategies to innovating HR


Lead innovation in all areas of your business and navigate change to survive disruption by reserving your spot for The Executive Leadership Summit. 

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Mastering the 3 Areas of FOCUSED LEADERSHIP

3 Areas of Focused Leadership

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” 

Herbert Simon, Economist


Mental overload, constant disruption, sleep deprivation, stress and a whole lot more can mess up your brain’s executive function. When your job is to make tough calls all day, every day, you need a sustained reserve of laser-like focus.  

We usually associate focus with being task-oriented – getting things done without distraction. As a leader, whose attention is in high demand, focus is not so much about task-completion, but about allocating your attention.  

When you feel like your attention is pulled in all directions and you can barely get by, grouping your attention into three areas – yourself, others and the world-at-large – can help you better manage your focus.  

A constructive focus on yourself and others is an essential element of emotional intelligence which helps you cultivate great relationships – a mark of a great people manager and influencer while a fuller and broader view of the world can help with being strategic and creative.  

As a leader, you must strive to balance these three areas of attention. Not paying enough attention to yourself could get you unhinged and too much focus on others could make you seem too needy, while a lack of outward focus could leave you oblivious of the world-at-large.  

Focus 1 – SELF  

Are you aware of your biases and how they are impacting your decision-making?   

Being aware of the judge, critic and censor in you then letting all that go, is important to keep your mental faculties focused on perceiving and assessing the objective truth. This advanced level of self-awareness is vital to good leadership.  

Leaders who are used to giving input rather than receiving and processing information may find this annoying. Some transcendent thinking is required – to filter the noise and fine-tune your focus on what is essential.  

“Cognitive control” is the scientific term for your mind’s ability to process information, guiding your decision or behaviour to act (or not) according to the better part of your nature. Cognitive control is at the centre of your self-awareness and your willpower. It lets you stay on track of your goal despite emotional distractions. People who have reasonable cognitive control behave calmly during a crisis, keep their anxiety in check and bounce back quickly from defeat.  


Leaders who can focus on others are well regarded for the quality of their relationships with subordinates and peers. Regardless of their rank, they lead by influence, inspiring the best out of their teams, connecting and bringing people together.  

Great leaders prioritise attention on the quality of their relationships by deploying empathy:  

Cognitive Empathy – Are you able to understand and appreciate another person’s perspective? How people think, why they do what they do, what works and doesn’t work for them.   

Emotional Empathy – Are you able to feel or relate to another person’s feelings? This ability is important for coaching and mentoring teams and for giving outstanding customer service by feeling what they feel and giving them what they need, fast.  

Focus 3 – STRATEGY 

Leaders who are outward-focused are great at envisioning a future of opportunities. They can connect present events to map outcomes and consequences well into the future.  

Great leaders focus on two elements of value creation. One is by “exploiting” current conditions to create future value. And the second, riskier and more demanding element, is by “exploring” new avenues for future growth.  

In a time where the same information is available to everyone, the real value is in your ability to focus on the right one so that you can deliver the best strategy and insight. 


Infog - the 3 areas of focused leadership


Learn to manage your attention, and lead your organisation with laser-like focus by signing up for our Leadership Events and Training Courses. 


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Developing Your Executive Toolkit by Dana Lightbody   

Inspiring a New Generation of Business Leaders – An Interview with ESME BORGELT, Managing Director, Kellog’s

Interview with Esme Borgelt, MD Kellog's ANZ

Esme Borgelt’s career has taken surprising turns, from finishing a law degree in her home country of South Africa, to spending 10 years with Kimberly-Clark and the last 15 years at Kellogg’s where she is now the Managing Director for ANZ.

“I am originally a law graduate from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and coming straight out of university, joined Kimberly-Clark as part of their graduate recruitment program. Did a couple of stints, as they moved graduates around. Landed in sales and pretty much never left, ” jokes Esme.

“At the end of her 10-year stint at Kimberly-Clark, she was the Sales Director for the Consumer Division. Esme then left Kimberly-Clark to join Kellogg’s where she has been a key member of its ANZ Leadership. After almost 15 years of leading a massive team of passionate salespeople for the iconic cereal giant, Esme was tasked with the role of turning around Kellog’s ANZ as Managing Director.

Ahead of The Executive Leadership Summit 2019, Esme sat down with our CEO Dana Lightbody, to discuss all things leadership and how her priorities have shifted over the course of her career. Mentoring is high on that list of priorities for Esme as she talks about how it delivered great outcomes for Kellog’s business and culture.

Moving into Leadership


When asked about her career trajectory from sales to the C-Suite, if that was typical of her industry, Esme notes that her climb up the corporate ladder was far from traditional.

“I think in the past you would typically find finance and marketing leaders at the helm. In recent times as there is a great appreciation for execution, you see more and more salespeople step into more generalist roles. And it makes sense if you think about it.”

“I joke with people at Kellogg’s – I say ‘everyone’s in sales!’ We are all focused on delivering the same outcome, which is generating more sales. I think that is what makes Kellogg’s such a special place.”

With the new roles, came a new mindset and approach to what leadership looks like for Esme.

“When you get appointed to your first management position, you got thrusted into this role that you are nowhere near equipped for being responsible for people.

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery and development ever since. When I started my career in the mid-nineties, good leadership was all about command and control,” remarks Esme.

“Being a woman and developing my career in sales in those days, you learn quickly to become mentally tough, not to show emotion, not to show any weakness.”

“But I think in more recent times, as expectations on managers and leaders has evolved from the command and control model. Those things that I learned early on in my career that made me good and strong, are the things that started to hold me back.”

After going through an intense leadership training program, it soon became clear that the ‘keep your emotions in check’ approach to leadership wasn’t working, and Esme realized she had become an ineffective leader.

“The mental toughness that I brought to the table meant that I wasn’t relatable for people. I couldn’t inspire people to be their best self or do their best work because they can’t relate to me. That was a huge personal turning point for me, and I had to learn to become more comfortable with being vulnerable.”

Changing her style from ‘command and control’ to leading with purpose and passion has enabled Esme to be more creative and strategic. It has come to a point of prioritizing team results over taking charge. For Esme, leading is ultimately about loving what the team has achieved together.

Leading with Purpose and Being a Mentor


Esme sums up the lessons of her long career by identifying the top two skills to lead teams well into the future – first, self-acceptance, and second, to lead with purpose.

“Learn to become comfortable with being you. When people are comfortable being themselves, all that energy can be redirected into achieving business results.”

The second skill is around finding your purpose in life – why you do, what you do and helping others to find theirs.

“Purpose to me has changed over time, and it has become a relentless focus on creating an environment where people can bring their best self to work. I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

According to Esme, “if you’re doing what you do in service of something greater than you then it doesn’t always feel that hard, and you get through anything.”

“I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

The Future of Work


There are big things happening at Kellogg’s, with some exciting initiatives that highlight exactly how work is changing and what the future looks for individuals, teams and organisations. Esme makes work exciting for her team at Kellogg’s with opportunities to play around with cross-training. For example – who would have thought that the massively popular Baby Shark Froot Loops was conceived from idea to shelf by a team member from HR?

“We gave her this project, and she absolutely nailed it from beginning to end. Her intention is to continue building her career in HR but she’s going to do it in a completely different way,” notes Esme.

Another cross-training project at Kellog’s is what Esme calls the ‘SWAT Teams’. At the beginning of the year, they put together multi-functional teams to solve ‘meaty’ business challenges. The SWAT Teams are not typically involved in the area where the problem is.

“The results that we got from that were stunning! People brought the time and energy to the work and came up with new and different solutions for us,” remarks Esme.

“In some ways we are changing the future of work. Which is going to be a lot more objective-driven rather than function-driven.”

Esme’s brand of leadership is just as surprising and exciting as her journey. It is inspiring to learn how she is innovating work by starting a collaborative and creative culture. With Esme at the helm, the next generation of business leaders is off to a great start.

Learn how you
 can empower your team to achieve outstanding results! Join Esme Borgelt at the Executive Leadership Summit where she will deliver a keynote on leading your organisation through mentoring. 

Executive Leadership Summit 2019

ELIZA BROWN – The CEO Made of Pretty Tough Stuff

Eliza Brown - The CEO made of pretty tough stuff

Eliza Brown is not your typical CEO. For a start she’s winemaking royalty; she’s a Brown of the Brown Brothers, and she’s the fourth generation of the Brown winemaking legacy. She also didn’t want to be a CEO.


Starting on “the bossy suit side” of advertising, as she puts it, rather than the creative side, she worked for top advertising agencies before her dad called her out of the blue and asked if she wanted to join his stand-alone business venture, All Saints Wines.


Her father, an artful winemaker, bought All Saints off the Brown Brothers suite to go it alone. Wine he could do, marketing he could not. Eliza covered “a maternity leave” position that ended in her staying for four years.


She may have been happy working alongside her dad in marketing at All Saints, but an accident changed the course of her life forever. On an ordinary Sunday afternoon, her father was knocked from his motorcycle by a car and killed.


Her world was shattered. One minute she was working in the business, expecting her first child, her life is moving along smoothly, and the next she has lost her mentor, her father and the business she helped build was without its leader.


Her brother was studying winemaking in Adelaide, her sister running a graphic design business in Melbourne, living their lives unaware that tragedy was about to hit.


Eliza recounts, “That was a Sunday, and then we have to take over the business on Monday. I didn’t really have any experience in running a business, even though I had been working with dad for four years, he didn’t give me any insight into financials or anything like that.”


She pauses and continues, “When the bank manager turned up the next day asking me to sign personal guarantees that I didn’t understand anything about, and I did just that (signed the papers). There were so many little things. And then we had a court case at the same time, and it was messy. I look back on it now, and I think that how I got through it, but women don’t just end up just doing it. I didn’t ask enough questions when dad was alive.”


I became CEO the next day. I didn’t have much of a choice. 


Fortitude, I feel is an understatement when describing Eliza Brown. She shrugs off this enormous tragedy as if surviving of a loss of this magnitude personally and professionally was not an amazing feat.


“I remember someone saying to me, ‘this possibly won’t be the worst thing that will ever happen to you…’ and you have to put things into perspective, and I had my brother and sister, my mum as support. I’d find her to have a bit of a cry with and I had them as backup. I think that trying to do something like that by yourself is bloody difficult.”


Grieving and stunned by the sudden loss, Eliza and her siblings had to make a choice. “There were three options. Sell up. Get someone in to manage it for us. Or do it ourselves.”


With her sibling’s support, Eliza took the helm of All Saints as it’s CEO. Today, her sister Angela runs their marketing, and her brother Nicholas is the winemaker. When they sat down to discuss what to do with the business, they made a pact, “we sat down the day after and said, what should we do? Should we sell, we get a manager in, or we do it ourselves. And we all decided that we do it ourselves. But we also decided that when we started to hate each other, we sell because our relationship is more important than a business.”


Despite her siblings backing, Eliza felt hideously under prepared and uninformed about the financial and strategic side of the business. “I didn’t really have any experience in running a business even though I had been working with dad for four years, but he didn’t give me any insight into financials or anything like that.” I wonder how long it took her to overcome that feeling, to start feeling empowered and capable in her role.


It was a massive learning curve. A lot of people left. They really didn’t know whether I was up to the job. 


“I think at that stage I didn’t feel very empowered because I didn’t have the knowledge that I do now… when you’ve got the knowledge and a confidence in your decisions, that’s when you feel empowered. It made me work really hard to build my knowledge around every part of the business and ask questions.”


“One of the biggest hurdles was to trust my own decisions. I think that’s been the biggest hurdle because you constantly doubt yourself. Then I realised after I spend a lot of time with men on boards that they don’t doubt themselves at all. They look in the mirror completely convinced of their decision-making process, even if they hadn’t done the background work, and I thought, well, I’m still doing all the background work, and I’m still feeling nervous about my decision, and I shouldn’t just trust what I know and what I’ve learnt? And that’s taken quite a long time. But I think that’s better than being arrogant about your decisions in the early days.”


Echoing the sentiments of other CEOs I have interviewed throughout the year, Eliza believes that a little bit of fear, a little lack of confidence can help you stay motivated and pressed to do even better, “I don’t ever feel completely competent, and I think that if you do, that’s when things start to fall away. You’ve always got to be a little bit scared or a little bit hungry.”


With her surprising and refreshing frankness, Eliza is open about her awareness that others in the tight-knit wine-growing community may have viewed her stewardship of the vineyard as an inheritance rather than something she either earned and deserved to take. She also felt that most people backed her to fail and some, more selfishly, worried about what her failure would mean for the wider community.


The biggest hurdle is to trust your own decisions because you’re constantly doubting yourself. 


To prove them wrong she knew she would have to work harder than she knew she was capable of, “people have an expectation of you because of your last name and if I worked harder and did put my hand up for a lot of… I would be seen as somebody that is going to give 150%. If I sat back and didn’t put my hand up for a lot of those things, I don’t think I would be as respected.”


But Brown didn’t do it alone; she is the first to admit she got help and got it fast. She was out of her depth with the financial side of the business, and she needed strategic advice. So, she got it. She set up a board to help govern the winery and provide advice on the broader market. She had some young people that she trusted but also knew she needed experience, “a bit of grey hair” to ensure she had the right advice.


“You won’t have to do it all yourself, that’s why you need good people around you to help.”  


She recounts her lack of financial acumen as her biggest weakness and the area she needed the most support, “I remember Dom (the accountant) coming to see us when dad died on the Sunday, he came and sat with us on that on Monday says, “Look, you’ve got a big leaky bucket, you’ve got eight holes just leaking money and you need to work out how you’re going to plug all those holes and I’m going to come back next week and you’ll give me a solution.”


Financial acumen, she now believes, is the number one skill we should be teaching young women. “it’s just so important to have those financial skills. And I wish I had done accounting at school now. Even though it’s possibly the most boring thing in the world. I was told from an early age that I was terrible at maths and that I wouldn’t need it and I think this is why I struggled. Now I love financials, and I love seeing how we are going each month.”


She also believes we should be filling girls with self-confidence is first and foremost skill we should be instilling in girls. “I remember someone saying to me, “Get up in the morning and look in the mirror and be happy with who you see in the mirror every day.” And I think that’s important. Oh and financial skills.”


Despite all the pressure and the trauma of those first few years, Brown has definitely proven everyone wrong. Her winery has a five-star Halliday rating, and the winery’s restaurant has held the “one chef hat” rating consistently for the last six years. Added to this list of achievements (which she quietly did not mention) is the Future Leader of the Australian Wine Industry award from the Winemakers Federation of Australia and her participation as the sole Victorian representative on a 10-member agricultural advisory committee, set up by then Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.


As a side project, because there wasn’t already enough on her plate, she and her two siblings =have recently completed a renovation of a nearby property they purchased to produce a niche boutique accommodation space and together they purchased and made profitable a second vineyard, St Leonards Vineyard.


She had offers to make this project into a reality TV series which they did not take up because as Eliza says, “we were too nice to each other, there was not enough drama.” But the financial pressure of these ventures was both overwhelming and motivating.


What drives us is having that little bit of pressure. Being a little bit scared all the time. 


“I quite like the feeling of having a bank manager behind me because that drives me. When you see his number coming up on the phone and feeling the fear. But it’s having that accountability and making sure that things work and working hard to the end. Yeah and I think that’s what drives us. Having that little bit of pressure. Be a little bit scared all the time.”


I am astounded she can stand up to that pressure and has the time and inclination to maintain the various business and the same time as raising two children. She says she is able to balance both by tying to be organised.


At the same time as telling me this sincerely, she laughingly tells me she sent her daughter to school with two pairs of underpants. She does, however, cite choosing the wrong partner early in life one of her greatest mistakes and maintaining her current partnership with her husband one of the biggest success factors in keeping her life running smoothly.


The teamwork involved in the domestic side is vital to achieving and maintaining success. “I’ve had a home life that’s not supportive, and that’s an absolute disaster. Not being supported was what I experienced when my dad died, and we parted ways. That was a disaster. Absolute disaster. I said to myself that if I’ve ever met another person that we need to work together as a team.”


A team seems to be what she has found with husband Dennis, a Melbourne restaurateur who provides support and advice behind the scenes and of course there’s her two siblings, with whom she is ridiculously close. “The three of us have a very, very similar sense of humour. I think that helps. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. And if we start taking ourselves too seriously one of us want to kill each other. But despite that, we enjoy our life together.”


While she is supported, both within her marriage and from her siblings, I have no doubts that Eliza Brown would have been a powerhouse with or without them. But this story of pain, triumph, support is atypical from many of the stories I hear in the female leadership space. Brown is not your typical story of knifing your way to the top, crashing through a glass ceiling and fighting to stay at the top.


Her leadership was thrust upon her, and she rose to the occasion. Her self-deprecation is more than just modesty; it’s an understanding that while her success is important, being happy and content with her life and celebrating each day is just as important and I hang up the phone not just wanting Eliza to be my friend but also wishing to be welcomed into her world.

Reserve your spot for The Empowered Woman 2020 and hear from inspiring business women like Eliza to ignite your passion and acquire the skills to achieve your dream career. 

Managing with a GLOBAL MINDSET – 4 Core Competencies For Organisational Success

The 4 Core Competencies of Managing with a Global Mindset


This post kicks off a sequence of blogs on Management Skills to equip you with knowledge and capabilities to lead teams well into the future. To take the leadership deep-dive courses, sign up for our Training and Events facilitated by Australia’s leading management coaches.


How would you characterise someone possessing a “global mindset”? If we go by the definition of Dr Gary Ranker, the father of executive coaching, a global mindset means – “the ability to step outside one’s base culture and to understand there is no universally correct way to do things”.     


In an increasingly connected world, where working for a company is no longer restricted to a 2x2m cubicle in an office building, being able to manage employees working from across the globe is vital to success. Remote working is taking off as companies explore new ways of finding the ideal employee, so being able to understand cultural differences is vtial to your success as a leader. 


What are the key behaviours of someone with a global mindset?  


  •  People with a global mindset seek out diversity because they have an innate curiosity for new and exciting ways of experiencing the world.   
  •  They don’t mind the initial discomfort of stepping into new environments if it means they are better, and smarter for it.   
  • They are great at cultivating relationships with anyone different from them because they show respect and humility.  


Translating a global mindset into organisational success  


You need to bring a global perspective to the table to be considered valuable as a manager. For there are real career and business benefits to having a worldwide network of peers, partners and team members. Here are a few examples – 


  • Acquire best practice information, skills and tools to stay ahead of the competition  
  • Scale by employing highly skilled staff from developing countries  
  • Operate smarter, faster and at a lower cost by leveraging products and technologies from other countries 


Businesses of all sizes need to operate with a global strategy, and this includes a team of managers with a strong ability to influence across all cultures, functions and geographic locations. How else would you be able to lead a diverse, multi-national network of direct reports, supply chain partners, client organisations, and government agencies?  


The 4 Core Competencies of Managing with a Global Mindset  


While you may already have these skills under your belt, think about how you can retool them in the context of leading a complex, multi-cultural, professional network.  


1. Communicating  

Managers who communicate effectively can cut through barriers and get all subsidiaries to support the HQ’s agenda. They are fully taking advantage of various communication channels, from digital to interpersonal, to make sure the message is consistent and heard loud and clear across the organisation 

2. Collaborating  

Collaborating across countries can be difficult, especially if you’re a  manager from a developed country because of an innate perception of arrogance. Considerable effort needs to go into adapting your work style, language and tone to get your teammates from another culture to trust and support you.  

3. Networking  

Great managers can extend their influence beyond their immediate circle by sharing ideas and best practices. Connecting with people from across cultures through knowledge-sharing enables you to cultivate relationships which could lead to strategic and lucrative partnerships.  

4. Engaging  

Getting teams from different cultures to share your commitment and passion for the business is the most challenging job of a manager. You can change attitudes and maybe even develop great relationships with colleagues from another country by listening and having open conversations. 


Managing with a Global Mindset - 4 Core Competencies


Build your Manager Tool kit by signing up for our Training and Events and acquire the skills to succeed in the competitive corporate world. 




Check out these related posts — 


Executive Tool kit #1 Influencing  

Executive Tool kit #2 Navigating 

Developing Your Executive Tool kit by Dana Lightbody   




The Importance of Values

Values. The word is now such a part of the work vernacular that it’s almost hard to recall a time without it being at the top of the list as a question (what are your values?), a characteristic (are values important to you?), and a demonstrated quality (will you be bringing your values to your role?) when employees look to hire quality, key people for their company.

You may have even come across a survey on values, designed to uncover what makes you tick, what drives you, where and how you see the delineation between personal and work worlds, and quite simply: what makes you happy in all areas of your life based on your core belief systems.

And here’s the thing: values are based on your personal beliefs about what’s important in a workplace, and the varying degrees of what makes you tick is what you’ll then demonstrate in your role.

Values can include: a strong work ethic, how adaptable you are, your loyalty level, your honesty and integrity, how self-motivated you are, your professionalism, and your willingness to learn, and your positivity levels.

It’s little wonder then that core values are as important as your education and where you’ve worked, because values are what keep you churning through your workday with clarity and enthusiasm and energy.

We truly believe uncovering your value system is best done in discussion, or at least in an environment which requires introspection.

The Executive Leadership Summit 2019 lays the perfect foundation to have that conversation with yourself.

Back for its second year, the Summit will focus on the core learnings of an MBA with practical, experience-based keynotes and case studies from the leaders of Australia’s most successful companies.

Core values are front and centre too, and this Summit will help you discover what that means to you.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Executive Toolkit # 2 NAVIGATING – How to Lead Through Change and Uncertainty

Executive Tool Kit 2 - Navigating Through Change and Uncertaintly

What keeps most leaders up at night is the possibility of doom and gloom from external forces. Disruptive change has never been so swift and far-reaching in today’s connected world. 


While your instincts are sharp, and your experience and knowledge has enabled you to remove blind spots, no one has a clear vision of the future.  


A multitude of factors can still ruin your business. 


Welcome to the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) where the biggest threats that could take you out are the ones you won’t see coming.  


If you don’t know what VUCA threats are, here are some examples:

  • Macro-economic events that can impact national and global economies, for example — natural disasters, political unrest, foreign trade policies, market recessions, data breach, and fuel prices. 


  • Micro-economic events that affect individuals, markets, and communities where you operate, for example — emerging technologies, demand, supply, product pricing, and government policy changes. 


But it’s not all bad. Some disruptions may turn out for the best. Nevertheless, a rational framework can help you process all your fears, hopes and expectations and make the best decisions.  


Introducing the 4 Ds of VUCA


Use this mind tool to help you plan to navigate and mitigate the negative impact of VUCA. 


Discern. Challenge your assumptions about the future by imagining a range of business outcomes from best to worst. 


Determine.  Identify all the issues and problems that could arise with each scenario. 


Decide.  Choose the way forward or the strategic response with each scenario using this formula — “If (X) then (Y) 


Do.  Communicate the strategy to the team for implementation. 


This is not about fear mongering. This is about smart navigating – looking out for all kinds of scenarios that could harm your business. More importantly, it is about being prepared with better ideas to move your way around VUCA and head towards success. 

Infographic - Lead your team through change and uncertainty

Unleash your leadership potential and learn the skills to thrive in an evolving global economy. Reserve your spot for Executive Leadership Summit 2019 


Check out these related posts on building your Executive Skills —

Executive Toolkit #1 Influencing

Developing Your Executive Toolkit by Dana Lightbody