Top female leaders impart their advice on future leadership and networking

We asked some of the most influential and inspirational females from the corporate, entrepreneurial and political world to impart some of their advice and tips on leadership, networking and what they would advice they would give to their younger selves.

Leaders - Helena Morrissey, Rubie McGregor-Smith, Lara Morgan, Nicola Horlick, Sue O'Brien


Good leaders develop leaders – accept that mistakes are part of the learning process.

Motivation is about good feedback and empowering people to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. It is also about really getting more out of people and making them realise what their potential is. My big thing has always been to promote young. I put people in at the deep end. I think this is what they need and they will thrive in 99% of cases. It’s also about making people seriously love what they do and making them excited, because that’s what you need to do brilliantly. – Rubie McGregor Smith CBE

Delegation does not mean abdication of responsibility, for example every day I still receive a set of figures on business performance.   Agree a communication process, a set of information that you require to keep your finger on the pulse.  Having people you can trust who share your values and standards is essential.  Good leaders develop leaders – accept that mistakes are part of the learning process.  It’s like your toddler children, if you don’t let them walk due to fear that they will fall, then the child will never be able to walk without your help. – Perween Warsi CBE – Founder and CEO of S&A Foods

There needs to be work on the ground, you can’t just turn up, you have to work with people. Take the time to meet those people who will vote for you and gain support internally. I cannot say this enough but it really is about doing the work. You need to have confidence in yourself and be able to convince people that you have what it takes to make a difference. Take up the issues with the people who will vote for you. – Baroness Mary Goudie

The most important thing to do is to know who you are as an executive. If you haven’t worked out for yourself what your brand is and what it stands for, then you can’t expect anyone else to know you.  So, identify who you are, what you want to be and stick to it.  The second thing that you need to do is to work through the most appropriate way for you to externalise that brand persona. You have to externalise and internalise at the same time. Don’t just go speaking on platforms for the sake of it but if you do, make sure what you say matters, that it’s different to the rest of the speakers and that it’s authentic. Don’t do the “management” speech piece. Also, remember your internal audience needs to understand that too. – Sue O’Brien – CEO of Norman Broadbent

Advice for future leaders

Be open to possibilities and see that it can go much further by not scripting it all out

Be more confident, make the decisions you need to make and worry less. Worrying is part of what makes you better at what you are, but it can hold you back too. – Rubie McGregor Smith CBE

I always say be true to yourself and try to live in the moment. Be open to possibilities and see that it can go much further by not scripting it all out.  And stopping and thinking – which is something I have learnt later on – is a bit of advice I would share. –  Helena Morrissey MBE

The days of deciding at the age of 18-21 years old what you will spend the rest of your life doing are gone.  You can have many careers within your lifetime if you dare to dream big and get outside of your comfort zone in order to make it happen! – Miranda Brawn, Barrister 

Research is important, but be careful of the source. The Economist is one I trust, and the BBC.

Be brave, push yourself forward. Go for it. Be self confident. If you are not make sure you get a mentor, to support and train you.  Learning and education are important.  Always be properly prepared for interviews, make sure you’ve done your research.  Research is important, but be careful of the source. The Economist is one I trust, and the BBC. – Nicola Horlick – High flying entrepreneur

I think it is important that young people have the confidence, skills and freedom to pursue their aspirations. It is equally important that we are honest about the peaks and troughs of pursuing particular career paths.  Being your own boss certainly is rewarding, but be prepared to face a great number of ‘learning curves’. – Amma Mensah – Founder of Beyond the Classroom

I see education as the foundation for a full life whatever your choice of career and wherever you work. All organisations in every sector of the economy need well-educated and well-trained people to make them effective. Education, which should continue throughout our lives, also enriches our leisure and family life. – Jane Scott Paul OBE – Chief Executive of AAT

In relation to selling your service or even yourself is that  people should realise that selling is a conversation… yes there are words in it that matter, but it is ultimately an exchange around  ‘Does your company have a problem that we can solve?

Lara Morgan  – Serial Entrepreneur


Approach a networking event as a developmental opportunity.

The hard work can be very punishing but the rewards are great, seeing what I have built with the help of my family, colleagues and network is really, really satisfying. – Julia Hobsbawm, Founder and CEO of Editorial Intelligence

I think networking is incredibly beneficial and was the most impactful thing that I did when I first moved in to D&I.  Approach a networking event as a developmental opportunity.  Networking is never a waste of time – even if the payback is not obvious on the night.  Always think about what you can do for the people you are meeting – how you can connect them to others in your network – Fleur Bothwick OBE, Director at Ernst & Young 

More advice and inspirational women can be found here

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