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Updated 29 Feb 2020

Leadership lessons learnt from the amazing women in my life

Five top lessons learnt from top-class business women. 

Su-Mari du Bruyn, 24 August 2015  Share  0 comments  Print

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We are all shaped in part by the people we encounter during our lifetime. Family members, friends, teachers, peers and supervisors or managers all in one way or another contribute to the individuals we become as we progress through life.

Over the years I have been very privileged to cross paths with some amazing women who taught me the leadership lessons below.

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1. Do the right thing

As leaders we are often faced with challenging situations and decisions that need to be made. Often you are presented with options that range from easy to very difficult and you may find that the easy option you have is unfortunately not always the same option as what you would have to select if you merely focus on doing what is right.

The most amazing women I know always choose to do the right thing when presented with a choice (even when it is the most difficult option they could have chosen) and I have the utmost respect for them for doing so! The example they set for their team members and colleagues were one that people wanted to emulate.

2. Be fair

The most amazing female leaders I have come to know are always fair. They do not form their opinion of someone merely on what they have heard from others. They take chances on people and more often than not are pleasantly impressed with the outcome.

They also do their best not to take out their frustrations and irritation on people who didn’t cause or contribute it. This one in particular is definitely not an easy undertaking, but having the awareness of when you have transgressed and apologizing for when you were wrong already makes a huge difference to your relationships and support network.

3. Give feedbackGiving -feedback

Giving feedback can be a very uncomfortable experience, especially when you have to give criticism that may be difficult for the recipient to hear. I have seen amazing examples of women leaders who take these tasks on with such finesse and grace that they succeed in making it look easy.

Fundamentally I found two secrets to their success; their authenticity and approach. The great women leaders honestly shared their feelings when they were giving feedback and they left people feeling that they wanted to do better instead of that they had been reproached.

4. Laugh

Over the years I have seen over and over again that a little bit of humour can do you the world of good. No matter how difficult or challenging the job at hand or the meeting you are preparing for; keeping your sense of humour about you can really take the edge off, diffuse tension and give you a second breath when you are in dire need of one to keep going.

5. Handle people with care

Great leaders know that they are dependent on the people around them to achieve success. They take a genuine interest in the people around them, they care about them, give them credit when credit is due, encourages them and respects their trust.

These great women leaders have never been afraid to be challenged or to change their mind when it is the right thing to do. They allow people to be who they are and they capitalise on the benefits of the complementary strengths that come from the diversity within their teams. 

Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, but the unfortunate reality is that we generally do not say thank you often enough.

Related: Facing challenges head-on

I sincerely hope that you will take the opportunity this women month to convey your gratitude and appreciation to the amazing women who have touched your life through the years. What greater thank you is there than to apply the worthwhile lessons you have learned from them in your day to day life. 

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About the author

Su-Mari du Bruyn

Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Through Adapt To Change she assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff. Su-Mari also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement, sharing proven methodology and highlighting important dos and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results. Find her on Google+r and has spoken at multiple enterprises ranging from staff self-esteem issues, how to plan and set goals, to how to self-motivate.

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