This week I watched the ABC’s Q&A program which had on its panel Anna Bligh, the Queensland Premier. I was delighted to closely observe and reflect on her increasingly impressive leadership style and impact.
In case you’ve never watched this show, it comprises a panel of politicians, activists and high profile people who answer questions prepared by the audience. There is usually at least one controversial panel member and during the show a constant stream of twitter feeds are broadcast on the screen.
Many tweets exuded praise and admiration for Anna Bligh, her comments, her presence and her impressive handling of difficult questions. She has a growing list of fans and admirers and, I have to confess, I’m one of them.
I reckon women can learn a lot from Anna about how to be a woman leader – and the lessons go beyond the generic list of leadership competencies. We can learn how to lead and stay connected to our feminine selves.
Many women leaders disconnect from their inner wisdom, insight and feminine values, for fear of being dismissed or discounted. Those that get to the top are extremely capable – they have to be. They are connected to their intellect and have highly developed cognition. Few women leaders appear as connected to their hearts, or the qualities that stem from their feminine values and strengths.
Anna is extremely bright, always prepared and able to convey the empathy, authenticity and humanity that come from who she is, not just from her position as Queensland’s Premier.
Here’s what I’ve observed:
1. Anna is grounded. She is grounded in the task at hand, the facts, her role and her responsibility as a leader. She
- Answers questions clearly and explicitly and avoids rhetoric and generalisations.
- Communicates and shares information and decisions openly.
- Delivers bad news in a matter of fact, calm and even voice.
- She reminds us of what’s most important.
2. Anna is connected to her self, the issues and to others. We know this because she:
- Articulates facts, her opinions and ideas explicitly, clearly and without apology.
- Demonstrates empathy and acknowledges other perspectives.
- Uses the word ‘I’, ‘we’ ‘us’ interchangeably (rather than the generic and somewhat detached ‘you’).
- Reinforces her messages using consistent and aligned body language and facial expression.
3. She is positive and optimistic. She:
- Frames her messages within the context of a bigger picture and keeps bad news in perspective.
- Keeps people focused on what we share and have in common rather than our differences.
- She responds to criticism without defensiveness and reframes potentially divisive issues in a way that normalises issues and reminds us that we’re all human.
Imagine the difference more women leaders would make to our country and future.