This is a guest post by the brilliant Lauren Ambrose who is Head of Fundraising at Girlguiding UK
Lockdown is going surprisingly quickly, isn’t it?
At least it is for me, anyway. March feels like it only just happened. And returning to the office to ask about everyone’s Christmas and New Year wasn’t that far off either.
But when I walked back into the office in January I was also walking into a new job. I was finally Head of Fundraising; the goal I had been working towards my whole career thus far.
By this point in my career I was feeling confident in my leadership style and approach, had a clear understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, and felt able to look at things with a broader, more strategic lens.
I was ready. Success and eternal glory were on the horizon!
However, like many life events, I had hyped it up too much on that first day. Just like walking into a tattoo parlour and walking out the same person. I walked into the office on my first day as Head of Fundraising, and shock, I was the same person.
However just moments after completing my 2019 Year End Report for the fabled finance committee (does anyone know who even sits on finance committee?), March hit.
Things really did change overnight. I gathered my wonderful team around the table, and as usual, tried to think of something clever to say. But in the end, I just provided whatever support and information I could at that time. To be honest, I barely even remember what I said.
After all, they knew as much as I did about what the next few days, months, year would look like. We had all watched the news at the same time, hadn’t we? There was no secret meeting or plan, no operation stealth. We were simply all to go home with our laptops until further notice.
So as a leader in this situation, what was I meant to add? What was I meant to bring to that table? I wasn’t sure, but I walked away feeling like I had said something. Helped in some way.
I had been as clear, honest, and supportive as I could. Been direct and strong.
And provided no reassurances, no promises, and quite frankly, provided no new information whatsoever. After all, I was the same person I had been the day before.
That being said, I do spend a lot of time thinking about leadership but always come to the same conclusions.
And I firmly believe that the most important aspects of leadership is being your authentic self.
Particularly in times of crisis. Just be you. If you don’t know the answer, admit that. If you are confident about your opinion, reiterate it. And if you want to make jokes during your finance committee presentation well then you… wait actually no, I wouldn’t recommend that.
For me, leadership is about being confident in who you are. I don’t have confidence about what the next six months will look like. how could I, no one knows! But I have confidence in myself, my knowledge, my ability to be honest, and my ability to make decisions.
And of course, I have confidence in my team. Where do I even begin with that lot! Maybe a monologue about how much confidence I have in them is for another time…