Recently I spent a bit of time in New York City, a favourite city of mine. It’s always great to be there, but this visit was particularly sweet. Along with attending a neuroleadership conference, I also attended the International Stevie Awards gala night.
I was excited that we were finalists in the Women Helping Women categories for both business and not for profit. To say I was surprised to take out Gold in both is an absolute understatement. It was so unexpected that I didn’t have a speech prepared (as is evident by the YouTube videos circulating!)
It took me a while to process the fact that we had actually won, and it also gave me pause for reflection on what I had learned from the entire experience.
My main takeaways were as follows:
1. When people say they are humbled at winning an award, it’s true.
Sitting in a gala room with 400 business women from around the world was exciting in itself. I am always recharged when surrounded by inspiring women. The collective achievements of the other finalists were nothing short of remarkable. To be in such company I believe was an achievement in itself. To win gold awards in both categories truly was humbling.
2. Having a purpose is vital to success
I never intended to be the founder of an international charity, it was not part of my plan. I established the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam (ACCV) after I met a young blind man whose life was extremely limited because he had lost his sight. I wanted to make a difference for him and his mother. ACCV now supports more than 200 families living in poverty with children that are either blind or severely disadvantaged. We are most certainly making a difference. I have exactly the same philosophy when it comes to leadership. We want to make a difference to every woman or team we work with.
3. Passion will keep you going when times are tough
It has been a long road from meeting that very first young blind man, and opening our Brisbane office to accepting an international award. We have faced many, many obstacles, some of them quite overwhelming. The one thing that has kept us going is passion. I believe passionately that we can make a difference to young blind people and their families in Vietnam, and I believe that leadership can make an enormous difference to the workplace.
4. Success is not possible without a great team
When I walked up to accept the award, I was simply representing a team of people who work tirelessly to make both ACCV and Push! Leadership work.
5. Leadership is Vital
As a leader I understand that we need to have a person who is steering the course with a strategic view of the vision and mission. But without a great team who have also bought into the vision it would simply not be possible. I think it’s John Maxwell who says “if you are leading but nobody is following then you are simply taking a stroll!”
6. You have to empower others if you are going to lead successfully.
ACCV is built on the ability to empower those who through various circumstances are not in a position to empower themselves. Our core philosophy is that we give a hand up, not a hand out. It is the same in business, as a leader the role is to empower others so they too can stand up and lead. So much of what led to these awards came down to my team, from the actual nomination right through to the daily tasks and results that were closely examined by the Stevie Award judges. Had I not empowered my team then, I would not be standing on that stage. It’s as simple as that.
7. There is always room for Gratitude
Like many people, I have worked for people who showed absolutely no gratitude to the people who worked so hard for them. Gratitude should be present in every leader’s communication style.
I am grateful to receive these awards, especially when I consider the incredible achievements of the other finalists. I am also grateful to the people who work in both organisations. Lastly I am particular grateful to have the good fortune to work with the young blind people in Vietnam who face incredible challenges every single day and they step up and step over them. It is a privilege to know them.