Women as leaders

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Leadership coach Benaifer Bhadha inspires SIMREN SAMRAI and others to harness their unique traits as women – ethnically diverse women – to reach greater heights.

As a person of CALD background living in Australia, I am aware that women like me can be challenged to find the right tools to combat daily pressures in our social and professional worlds.

But recently, as I sat in a circle with 15 other women of different ethnic backgrounds, I could feel sweeping over me the beginnings of a new mindset with which to approach the world.

Over the course of a two-day Women’s Leadership Course, Benaifer Bhadha, a New York-based leadership coach and advocacy trainer, inspired us to harness our unique values and experiences as women, to become strong and effective leaders.

Specifically, Benaifer purposed storytelling as a device to discover the power of our own voices, and connect it authentically to the values with which we have grown up.

Benaifer Bhadha, the New York-based leadership coach
Benaifer Bhadha, the New York-based leadership coach

As a group, we worked consciously to identify our most prized values, and then used them to shape a simple yet all-encompassing purpose statement to guide us. As I stood with the other participants and declared myself as having ‘wild considerate ambition’, I felt a deep sense of self-awareness descend over me. As this new mantra was repeated back to me, it seemed to cement in my psyche.

Throughout the program, Benaifer urged us to think about the type of leader we want to be. The qualities of a strong formidable leader are, sadly, too often seen in synergy with male figures. This, combined with the undeniable discrepancy between males and females in executive positions, often tends to alienate women, who begin to believe they are incapable of performing well in such roles. However, our group began to explore notions of female leadership that instead of subscribing to conventional views, championed uniquely female traits to create equally strong and effective leaders. It was liberating to consider that in our pursuit of greater endeavours in our professional lives, we were not necessarily compelled to alter the qualities and characteristics that shaped us as the women we are in our personal lives.

The first and perhaps most crucial lesson I learnt over the two days, was the incredible power of listening. As busy women in today’s world, our attention is often divided between an endless multitude of things at any one time, and we often minimise or even forget the power of listening. Listening, truly engaging with others, is essential to create meaningful connections, which in turn are the key to developing into the people we want to be.

Benaifer Badha
Benaifer Badha during her keynote address

The impact of the program’s insights and discussions was greatly synthesised by the vastly contrasting perspectives of the women in the group. We were university students, young professionals, mothers, seasoned professionals in executive positions. However, instead of hindering communication and connection, this diversity served only to further validate the common experiences and desires we all had to be strong successful women, regardless of what our definition of success may have been.

The program was conducted as part of Sikh Youth Australia’s annual Leadership Camp, which gives culturally diverse youth the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain a competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced world. Held at the Sydney Academy of Sports over the first weekend in July, the camp offers a variety of internationally accredited programs that allow individuals to reach the next level of their personal, professional and spiritual lives. The camp has bred several successful stand-alone initiatives. One such is YSPN (Young Sikh Professionals Network) which facilitates the professional advancement of youth by organising mentoring programs and hosting speaking events with experienced professionals through its chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

women leaders

In addition to her program at the camp Benaifer Bhadha will be speaking at the YSPN chapters in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth over the next two weeks, showcasing her engaging storytelling and sharing leadership insights.