Inspirational Woman: Michelle Moore | Award-winning Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker & Educator

Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore is an award-winning leadership coach, author, speaker and educator voted as one of the UK’s 50 Most ‘Influential Women in Sport’.

Based on a twenty year’ career in senior leadership roles across sport, government and education, her pioneering work and coaching and leadership programmes have transformed the lives of professionals, young people, athletes and the culture of many organisations.

Winner of the 2016 UK Precious Award for ‘Outstanding Woman in Sport’, a Football Black List award and an esteemed national Change Maker award. Michelle is a globally recognised executive on leadership, race equity and sport for development.

A sought after experienced speaker and moderator hosting events and delivering keynotes for The University of Cambridge, The NBA, and UNICEF UK. She has chaired events at the United Nations and presented to the House of Lords. Michelle makes regular appearances for top tier media outlets including BBC Radio 4, TRT World, Channel 4, BBC World Service Sportshour and been featured in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent.  Michelle is a regular contributor on BBC radio.

Michelle combines her campaigning roles with board positions for SportsAid, a Sport England Talent Inclusion Advisory Board member and is commissioner for The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket. She is a senior honorary associate lecturer at the University of Worcester.

Michelle’s book Real Wins will be on sale from November 25 2021.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

From the age of 10 my twin sister, Francoise and I joined Herne Hill Harriers athletics club. I was a sprinter in my younger days and eventually became a 400m as a senior. We trained in a part of London – then known for its racism.

I’ve lost a lot of races! Described by my coaches as a ‘Trier’, and despite county success, I failed to reach international standards.

Athletics introduced me to the power of resilience.

My mum was a runner and my dad played squash and tennis. My mum joined the athletics club, and so did we. I wanted to feel part of something and athletics gave me that sense of identity and belonging. I wanted to be really good at something and I wanted to win.

I’ve held a range of posts and had many different management and leadership roles all with a focus to make a positive difference in the lives of others whether that’s through sport, community development or education. 

I’m a failed athlete and, at one point in my career, I was not always the best leaders. And as a consequence, I’ve been on my own self-leadership journey, and have radically changed my way of leading and managing teams of people. 

“I believe we become truly powerful when we have enough self awareness about how we can transform ourselves and in so doing transforming others in our communities.”

 

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No  – my plans came about by implementing Plan B’s. I understood that results came from hard work, connections and bouncing back from setbacks. Sport has taught me about resilience in all it’s different forms.

One opportunity led to another based on my high performance sports mindset and I wanted to make my contribution to the world and make a difference to others. I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see despite the injustices.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Gender and racial discrimination have often cast a shadow over my achievements and opportunities.

My gender and my race has changed how I’m perceived. I have been paid less and afforded less opportunities, and have been pigeon-holed and labelled.

I’ve had to find another way to redefine success on my own terms.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I always find these questions tricky but there are some obvious ones such as winning awards and the impact on others – The Precious Award; Outstanding Woman in Sport 2017; A National Southbank 2015 Changemaker; A 2017 Football Blacklist Award – MeWe.

I also feel I’ve achieved when young people stop me in the street and remind me of an assembly or opportunity I’d created; or when one of my coaches/mentees wins. It’s all interdependent – when they win, I win and vice versa.

I think it’s about setting our own boundaries and figuring out what success looks like on our terms and then navigating those spaces understanding that the difference we bring is the unique offering we have.

So my recommendation is to define what success looks like for you, and hold yourself accountable to this rather than an organisation’s limited gendered and racialised expectation.

Watch Michelle's 'Behind the Cover' Interview below

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I don’t believe it’s just one thing! Success is also relative and looks and feels different at different points of our lives. For me, my levels of self-efficacy has built up over the years from having to deal with setbacks, both personally and professionally, from grief to redundancy and demotion.

Success is a based on your growth mindset – namely being open to change and growing, which is all about your levels of self-awareness.

Great leadership of yourself and others starts and ends with self-awareness. As the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung described in his ‘shadow’ concept of the self, we are each made up of both lightness and darkness. The darkness describes those aspects of the personality that we choose to reject and repress.

At one point in my career I wasn’t the best manager, I had to do a 360 degree transformation on myself. When my management style brought my shadow into the light, I had to learn to embrace it, which created the space to move from defensiveness and denial, to compassionate self-acceptance of myself and my truths. A conscious leader is prepared to do this self-awareness work, so they show up as authentic, grounded and well-rounded individuals.

I’ve had to redefine what success looks like because of some of the discrimination and societal conventions dictate – my life is determined by more than what society dictates.

I talk to others, especially young people about this – we can and should define our own boxes. I’ve often been the youngest, the only Black woman and the boss. I now have an unconventional job; one I’ve written the job description for based on my passions and I make my own money. My encouragement to all is to write your own story, not one that has to keep up with somebody else’s or what society expects of you.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I mentor three young women – then have a wider light touch mentoring relationship with other groups of people. As women, we are marginalised in society, so we need to create networked power and mentoring helps us to do that.

I feel very strongly about mentoring, sponsorship and talking up others when they are not in the room. I believe in opening up and sharing opportunities, such as invitations to important or prestigious events, always asking for a plus one, and modelling authentic networking.

Maya Angelou says, ‘Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.’ I believe in this and have seen powerful results when this happens. 

When women support women we leverage and maximise our collective power and self-determination, and become formidable!

A good mentor is able to provide clarity, a listening ear, career guidance but also above all help instil and embolden the individual in their own self-belief and that they are not alone. I’m seriously ambitious for my mentors and those who I coach, in terms of their professional and personal growth and will respectfully and lovingly challenge them to unleash their potential. A mentor can really see that individual in all of their beauty and flaws and my role is to help them see that for themselves. I don’t have one mentor – I have a board of people who are my advisors and mentors I reach out to when I need to.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Diversify workforces for all women – ensure power is equitable and not just about representation. When women are in senior positions, do they have powers to make change?

For example, just 1.2 per cent of Black women on 39 sports board. Gender equality initiatives in sport have benefitted white women and low numbers for black women have remained static – much the same for leadership positions in the public sector

Gender and Racial equality needs more conscious leaders, who are prepared to lead grounded in authenticity, integrity, empathy and accountability.

For instance, in the UK both the ethnicity pay gap and the gender pay gap serve to doubly impact and bind Black women, yet where these pay gaps are reported, they are reported on separately. This division serves to erase Black women but also conceal their experiences.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Relax, back yourself and trust it will work out!

Embrace all your vulnerabilities and be your authentic self, because everyone else is taken.

Remember that you don’t have to fight every fight, and that success is yours to define and redefine as part of your journey.

You can set your own boundaries where you get to feel fearless and emboldened. You’ve got this!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I have recently added the title of author to my job roles. My debut book Real Wins is about leadership from my perspective as a black woman who dreamt as a little as girl of being a professional athlete.

I’ve plans for a national and international book tour and know I’ll need support to make this happen and having to learn to trust that my vision can and will be achieved.

I hope to continue to spread my work and message to be the change I want to see in the world. I’m currently working on exciting coaching and leadership programmes, equity projects and collaborations. I’m trying to make my difference in the world visibility and powerfully.

I will continue to honour the legacy of my ancestry – rinsing every opportunity, being of service to the world, finding those moments of joy out of life, in tribute to their memory and immense sacrifice.

Real Wins: Race, Leadership and How to Redefine Success | Michelle Moore

Real Wins is an urgent call to action from one of the most influential women in sport.

In her unflinching style, Michelle Moore seeks to redress inequality at all levels and shows us how to challenge stereotypes and tired assumptions to transform our experiences and environments.

Through this timely, eye-opening insight into her experiences both on the track and in the boardroom, Michelle shows us how to face our fears, build resilience and find our own unique leadership style. She shares stories from athletes, leaders and many other inspiring people, as she redefines the relationship between identity and success for both individuals and organisations.

Giving you the practical strategies of self-awareness and resilience to run your own race, Real Wins will empower you to take responsibility for your own prejudices, actions and ultimate success. Michelle Moore tirelessly champions a brand of conscious leadership for a new age of sport and business. She is sought out by corporations, government bodies and international sports federations to help drive change and bring about personal and collective transformation.

Real Wins: Race, Leadership and How to Redefine Success | Michelle Moore
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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