There's been plenty in the media lately about the gender pay gap and the challenges faced by women in leadership roles.
It was refreshing to hear powerful messages recently from a senior leader in the NSW government who's been quietly getting on with the job, taking on a series of male-dominated roles during her impressive career.
As she explains, she didn't always know she was the first woman to go into a role; it was only when she got there that she realised she was actually blazing a trail.
What particularly impresses me about this leader's style is the care she takes in getting to know individual staff even though she manages a large agency. She describes how she makes it her business to have a one-on-one with every staff member in her extended team, even driving long distances to meet with individuals based at remote locations.
She always asks them five questions:
1. Tell me about your job
2. What do you like about your job?
3. What don't you like about it?
4. How can I support you in your role?
5. What can we as an agency do better to deliver the services we’re here to deliver?
Asking and really listening has enabled her to build a powerful profile of the agency's capabilities along with a strong network of support. She can make confident decisions based on direct information from those at the coal face.
Often in the digital age we rely on technology to do the communicating for us - but nothing beats face to face communication, however inconvenient it might seem.
Being able to look into the other person's eyes, read their body language and make a personal connection cuts through much of the noise that gets in the way of emails and other more distant forms of interacting.
It's clear to me why this manager has enjoyed such a successful career and no doubt has an even brighter future. She also shared a wonderful quote (and I hope I’m expressing it correctly). Written in her autograph book when she was a child, by her grandmother, it goes like this:
“Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.”