Self Awareness is Key to Great Leadership

Vera Woodhead at TY

As part of our regular Wednesday #WinnersTalk, we chatted online with Vera Woodhead, director of Edimo Consulting and Development.

As well as tweeting us invaluable tips about confidence, influence and visibility, she shared vital insights about her favourite subject and profession – leadership.

And as a special extra for Forward Ladies members, Vera has offered her Be Bold leadership course today only (18 Feb) at a significantly reduced price. See the end of this blog for details.

  1. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Ensuring you have a clear direction and plan in place, plus having a team with the right skills, knowledge and attitude. Setting out how you do business and ensuring these behaviours are maintained everyday.

  1. As an organisation gets larger there can be a tendency for the institution to dampen the inspiration. How do you keep this from happening?

Organisational culture is set by the leader, so inspire with your ambitions and aspirations. Be clear about how your staff’s roles contribute to the bigger picture, and keep them in the loop especially through change.  Keeping staff inspired, motivated and energised largely depends on what they are allowed and empowered to do. Allow them their voice and the freedom to suggest ideas and test them. Taking managed risks and failing should be part of organisational norm.

  1. How do you ensure your organisation is aligned?

Keeping our mission and vision at the forefront of everything we do and striving forwards.  Regular communication so that everyone knows the direction and progress against the business plan and strategy. Hire staff with similar values. Role model the behaviours and attitudes you want to see in staff. Use customer feedback to ensure values are demonstrated.

  1. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, who do you hire?

Hire for attitude and train for skill – as the saying goes.

  1. Which characteristic should every leader possess?

Many different attributes, traits and characteristics contribute to effective leadership. If I had to single out one, it would be self awareness – of your values, strengths, purpose, what drives you and holds you back, and getting feedback on your performance and taking action to manage the gap

  1. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

There are quite a few!

Attracting and retaining critical and top talent. Creating a culture that drives innovation, embraces risks and opportunities.

Building agility and resilience, balanced with transparency, integrity and inclusivity.

Keeping up with technology and recognising that younger staff are probably more adept in this field and utilising their skills

As economic confidence improves, finding the best ways to fund growth

Having an infrastructure in place to meet the changing needs of consumers increasingly using mobile devices to meet their needs

Embracing social media such as Twitter and Facebook where customers seek 24/7 responses to their queries and issues

  1. What is the one behaviour or trait that most derails leaders’ careers?

Those who lack the ability to manage their emotions, have poor interpersonal skills, working relationships and little self awareness

  1. What advice would you give to someone entering leadership for the first time?

Build up a strong supportive network, develop your voice, be authentic, volunteer for stretch assignments and seek out a mentor

  1. What are you doing to continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I work in the field of leadership development and walk my talk. I am innately curious and read copiously on leadership, growth and development. Then I put them into practice by taking on new challenges and assignments to stretch myself – mentally and physically.

Special offer

Forward Ladies members who book on Wednesday 18, 2015 are eligible for Vera’s Be Bold workshop on 7 March at a reduced price of £75 down from £135.

The workshop is a one day programme for women to step up, step out, get ahead, progress, achieve results, succeed and achieve fulfilment. Proceeds will go to Children With Cancer UK.

For more information and/or to book call Vera on 07990 731840 or email