Kiwi businesswomen talk compassion, conviction, trust and leading by example

Kiwi businesswomen talk compassion, conviction, trust and leading by example

New Zealand businesswomen share their secrets to achieving success in the workplace through compassion, conviction, trust and leading by example

Newsflash: nice guys and girls do finish first, even in the workplace. Just look at the compassionate person to your left and compare them to the hard-nosed individual on your right. Who would you rather work with or promote?

Having compassion as a leader or staff member is no longer seen as a weakness or something to be taken advantage of. In fact, those of us who give rather than take have become more influential, and compassion as a communication tool is driving success for many business leaders in New Zealand.

Whether you’re self-employed and need to focus on growing a strong sense of self in your career, or are surrounded by a number of clashing personalities in your workplace, it’s undeniable that compassion and conviction in your values breed trust with staff and clients alike.

Here we talk to a number of successful Kiwi businesswomen about the strategies they have found successful at work, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. From honesty and mindfulness to trust and self-belief, the common thread between them all is one of tolerance and tenderness as a strength, not a flaw.

Lead from the front 

Marianna Glucina, founder of About Face
One of my personal values is committing to having honest conversations. Although this sometimes doesn’t make me the most popular person on the team, it ultimately deepens the relationship and level of respect between team members. There’s no point feeling something and not expressing it, mindfully.

I also believe if I’m asking someone on my team to do something, it needs to be something I’d be prepared to do myself. I believe in leading from the front and putting in the hard yards. People respond to someone who is real and authentic and who cares about what’s going on in their lives. It’s not all about business.

Be present and focused 

Sarah Phillipps, Epicure PR
Practising mindfulness and single-tasking has really helped me out in all aspects of my life. I think we’re all a bit guilty of glamorising being busy and championing the heroic multi-tasker. I find the saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” to be very true, but I also think it’s important to be present and focused on the task at hand.

I’ve had to work hardest at this when I’m with my children and find my mind wandering off to work commitments or start sneakily checking emails. This just makes me feel distracted and anxious. It’s much better to allocate chunks of time to certain activities and then just enjoy the activity.

You don’t have to be tough

Jacinda Ardern, MP for Mt Albert and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
You can survive with thin skin. The first time someone asked me to consider running for Parliament, my answer was a flat “No.” I was worried that I was just too sensitive for a job like that. As it turns out, I was right. But you can learn to manage sensitivity, and at least it means you don’t have to learn empathy!

Draw and line

Kelly Coe, founder of clothing label Augustine
Compassion for customers is all-important. Customers who regularly come into the store become part of your community and almost like friends, so it is natural to genuinely care about their lives.

Back yourself

Denise Arnold, law firm partner and founder of The Cambodia Charitable Trust
For me, leadership has developed with maturity. While I always had the ability to motivate and encourage, leading has taken time to learn. Being able to read and understand the situation and what kind of approach you need to take has come with experience.

Also, working within two cultures (New Zealand and Cambodian) has shown me how differently people respond to leadership. Mentoring is a big part of bringing through young lawyers and is so important in what I do. Giving them the right amount of responsibility and supervision is a constant balancing act.

Have compassion, with passion

Sharon Davies, managing director of employment agency Fusion by Talent Propeller
Compassionate leadership for me is about fostering talent. I want to ensure the team feels that I have their back, so they know they can bring ideas to the table, try new things and grow. Part of that is expecting me to tell them to suck it up when they are being babies!

You can’t have compassion without passion. This will help you get out of bed each morning and give you the strength to overcome obstacles. Never letting things get the better of you and being strong in the face of adversity are critical for success.

Team work

Sue De Bievre, CEO of
I wanted to create an environment that supported parents, and especially women, so that they could work without stress around their families. It’s a different type of relationship where we allocate tasks and let our team complete them in their own time and way. And if someone needs time off for personal reasons, the rest of the team works together to get the jobs out, no questions asked. We understand that work is part of life, not the point of life.

NADIA magazine

NADIA magazineNADIA celebrates living a ‘well-thy’ life. The magazine’s back-to-basics approach champions food, family, community, wellness, travel, entrepreneurship and what it means to be a New Zealander today.


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