Ellen Frantz interviews leadership coach Annette Corbett to mark International Women’s Day 2023

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Ellen Frantz interviewed Annette Corbett for Pascal Theatre Company to hear her experience and views of women as leaders.

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Excerpts below:

What made you start a women in leadership business?

What I was seeing is that women didn’t want to call themselves leaders, and I wanted to help them think about “Why is that?” and “What does leadership look like for them?” and “How can they express it in a way that feels more aligned with who they are?”

How do you think that women can be empowered to see themselves as leaders?

What I see a lot with women who I consider to be leaders, even if they don’t necessarily consider themselves to be leaders yet, is that they’re very collaborative. And I think because that’s not necessarily a value that we’ve valued ….that’s part of why they don’t think of themselves as leaders. So, .. my definition of leadership is really broad in that if you see that there’s a change that you want to make, and you are taking responsibility for making that change, that means you’re a leader.

How are women using their skills to overcome issues they face in the workplace?

for myself … but also for a lot of women I work with – they tend to be kind of perfectionists and people pleasers is how I describe them. So, we don’t want to get stuff wrong. We don’t really necessarily want to ask lots of questions because we feel like we should know the stuff. But when we come together as a group, then it feels easier to ask what might feel like stupid questions because we recognise that there are lots of other people in the room who feel the same. And I think that skill of communication and kindness that so many women have is really valuable in supporting each other to face that more challenging environment in the workplace.

Can you suggest some inspirational women role models?

I was particularly thinking of Bessie Boothroyd actually at the moment because of her passing away, was it 93? I was really stunned by her history when I was watching the news last night, and they did a bit of a breakdown of her life story. … I was like, wow, how did we not know this story before? This amazing woman. And there’s so many different facets of her and her good humour but her power as well, and that combination of being able to hold such a male dominated environment like the House of Commons and make sure everyone was behaving themselves.

And Nicola Sturgeon … there was a quote of her talking right near the end of her career; she’s saying something like, I went, I know, at the right time. And again, it was that sense of recognising there was a mission that was wider than her that she was serving. So, she was leading from this – I talk about leading from a place of service – she was leading from a place of service rather than wanting to hold onto power, and she recognised when it was time to let go and pass it onto someone else.

There are the ones in the background …who could be inspiring if we knew more about them. ..that made me think of one of Pascal Theatre Company’s projects [Women for Women]…all these untold stories that we know so little about. The idea that anonymous is often the woman in these stories. And it’s these women who are really leading the way and at the forefront of developing amazing things that we don’t even know unless we do the research because it’s just not a story that’s told.

Annette Corbett   Annette Corbett • Coaching

Women for Women: Introduction and Women – Pascal Theatre Company (pascal-theatre.com)