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Ditch the power suit!
Episode 223rd June 2022 • How to Take the Lead • Lee Griffith and Carrie-Ann Wade
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In episode two of How to Take the Lead, we discuss why we have decided to ditch the power suits and how that has impacted our approach to leadership. Authenticity is something we talk about a lot and this topic really highlights the importance of being able to show up as your true self as a leader.

In this episode we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • 02:45 – does appearance matter?
  • 06:10 – how to judge what's appropriate
  • 15:45 - tackling discrimination and your role as a leader

Our takeaways from this episode are focused on working out what makes you feel most confident in the workplace and finding opportunities to have conversations about how you can support others to show up as the best versions of themselves. We want you to feel comfortable and confident to be yourself.

We mentioned the Broken Ladders report from The Fawcett Society and The Runnymede Trust. You can view it here Broken Ladders report.

We will be sharing some of our own leadership lessons in the next episode of How to Take the Lead so tune in to hear more. Until then, get out there and take the lead.

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If you enjoyed this episode why not subscribe to the podcast. We would love it if you left us a review and feel free to share the link to this episode with anyone else you think would find it interesting using #HowToTakeTheLead

You can find out more about Lee Griffith via www.sundayskies.com and about Carrie-Ann Wade at www.cats-pajamas.co.uk

Transcripts

Lee Griffith:

Don't wear hot pants to a board meeting.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

What!

Lee Griffith:

You're listening to How To Take The Lead with Lee

Lee Griffith:

Griffith

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and Carrie-Ann Wade.

Lee Griffith:

Two corporate colleagues turned business

Lee Griffith:

besties, who question everything we've ever learned about

Lee Griffith:

leadership.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

What started with us putting the world to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

rights over a gin after work is now a weekly show challenging

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the myths and perceptions and exploring what leadership looks

Carrie-Ann Wade:

like in the modern day.

Lee Griffith:

We'll also be sharing our experiences and

Lee Griffith:

stories along the way.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

You can find our show notes at

Carrie-Ann Wade:

howtotakethelead.com

Lee Griffith:

Hit subscribe to receive new episodes every

Lee Griffith:

Thursday.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Plus we'd love for you to rate or leave a

Carrie-Ann Wade:

review of the show.

Lee Griffith:

And please share your thoughts and stories on the

Lee Griffith:

topics we cover using the hashtag how to take the lead.

Lee Griffith:

Hello, and welcome to episode two of how to take the lead.

Lee Griffith:

There's a second episode!

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I know, already. This is the whole point

Carrie-Ann Wade:

of the podcast though, to do more than one epsiode so wel

Carrie-Ann Wade:

will have to get used to this.

Lee Griffith:

So today's episode, we are chatting about

Lee Griffith:

something that's actually quite close to both of our hearts.

Lee Griffith:

Sorry, that does sound really cheesy doesn't it? I've been

Lee Griffith:

watching too much American TV. But it's a topic that's come up

Lee Griffith:

in practically every series that we did when we were doing our IG

Lee Griffith:

live shows and and it's notion of being yourself at work, so

Lee Griffith:

not feeling like you have to change who you are to fit in.

Lee Griffith:

Anyone that's heard me talk about my journey before will

Lee Griffith:

have heard me say about my perceptions when I went into

Lee Griffith:

management. And that pressure to look a certain way to fit in.

Lee Griffith:

So, for me it started with the clothes, then it became my

Lee Griffith:

personality that I was trying to change and then suddenly I

Lee Griffith:

didn't recognise who I was. My values, were in lost property

Lee Griffith:

somewhere and it all just started to feel a bit dirty. And

Lee Griffith:

it was only really at the point that I got saturated and felt

Lee Griffith:

fed up that I thought no I just need to be myself and when I

Lee Griffith:

started to be more of myself, leaving my hair to be curly,

Lee Griffith:

ditching the powersuit, wearing flat shoes, oh my goodness, if I

Lee Griffith:

felt like it. It was only then that I really started to gain

Lee Griffith:

confidence in my role. And I think people took me more

Lee Griffith:

seriously but that may well have just been my projection because

Lee Griffith:

I got more comfortable because it's a hard once test in

Lee Griffith:

hindsight. So it's been something that I've really been

Lee Griffith:

interested in ever since. And I think now with my new hat on in

Lee Griffith:

the business, it's something that I work with leaders on

Lee Griffith:

around building their personal brands and when that, the look

Lee Griffith:

and feel part of the brand discussion comes up, it's led to

Lee Griffith:

some really interesting discussions. You know what the

Lee Griffith:

expectations are that are out there. Are there going to be

Lee Griffith:

taken seriously you know, what's the business etiquette is if

Lee Griffith:

it's written down in some bible somewhere. And it's men and

Lee Griffith:

women it's not just you know, I've had conversations with.

Lee Griffith:

I've always been really forthright in my view that

Lee Griffith:

you're more likely to build connection with yourself when

Lee Griffith:

you yourself when you feel comfortable. People absolutely

Lee Griffith:

can see through fakes. So you have to bring your personnel to

Lee Griffith:

work to work. You know, that's what I've learned over time.

Lee Griffith:

But, you know, I know we've talked about this before, but I

Lee Griffith:

would love to know where you you're at now I suppose

Lee Griffith:

Yeah. So so how do you judge what's appropriate,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Yeah, absolutely, I think we talked

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Carrie-Ann.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

about being authentic and I think that's a word that some

Carrie-Ann Wade:

people love and some people might what does that even mean?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

But I do think it's genuinely what we talked about around

Carrie-Ann Wade:

being yourself in the workplace, being able to represent who you

Carrie-Ann Wade:

are in your role as a leader because I don't believe that all

Carrie-Ann Wade:

of a sudden you're a different person because you've got to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

work at eight in the morning and you're a leader now, like you're

Carrie-Ann Wade:

one person, there's lots of facets to you, but you are who

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you are. And I think it's interesting what you said around

Carrie-Ann Wade:

it started with the clothes and the appearance stuff. And then

Carrie-Ann Wade:

it kind of, it progressed from there in terms of your journey

Carrie-Ann Wade:

around feeling comfortable with yourself or not in that space,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and I think absolutely agree with the bit about appearance

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and there are these expectations that within the first seven

Carrie-Ann Wade:

seconds people make a judgement about you. That's how long

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you've got to make a first impression. So a lot of that is

Carrie-Ann Wade:

bound to be based on appearance, isn't it and what you like but I

Carrie-Ann Wade:

think that kind of yeah, that comes with some downsides

Carrie-Ann Wade:

doesn't it, around these expectations of how you have to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

look and how you have to dress in the workplace to be a senior

Carrie-Ann Wade:

person or a leader in an organisation. But then

Carrie-Ann Wade:

absolutely agree it goes beyond that. We talked about ditching

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the power suit and always think about the big shoulder pads but

Carrie-Ann Wade:

with the big shoulder pads I think sometimes particularly in

Carrie-Ann Wade:

my experience with women, comes the pointy elbows as well to go

Carrie-Ann Wade:

with the big shoulder pads and that kind of whole vibe that

Carrie-Ann Wade:

they used to be around, you know, maybe that more alpha

Carrie-Ann Wade:

female type leadership role model and that's, you know, I

Carrie-Ann Wade:

didn't see people who had personalities like mine or

Carrie-Ann Wade:

traits like mine in leadership roles for a very long time in my

Carrie-Ann Wade:

corporate career, actually because I just saw women who

Carrie-Ann Wade:

came across more like men, and acted more like men and spoke

Carrie-Ann Wade:

more like men. I feel like saying I don't feel like I felt

Carrie-Ann Wade:

they were women who were assertive leaders. I felt like

Carrie-Ann Wade:

they were borderline aggressive. And I felt like that's how I'd

Carrie-Ann Wade:

have to be then if I wanted to be a leader. And it wasn't until

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I saw slightly different leadership styles in that space,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

but I felt more comfortable and more competent to think that

Carrie-Ann Wade:

it's okay to be myself. And absolutely your point about the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

way people see through fakes but if you'd be like going for a job

Carrie-Ann Wade:

interview and acting like you're a totally different person,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you'll soon get found out if you get recruited on the basis of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that interview and then you go into the job, and you're totally

Carrie-Ann Wade:

different. So I genuinely do think you have to be yourself.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

But I do think that's easier said than done. In quite a few circumstances.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you know, what, how do you know? There's probably some really

Carrie-Ann Wade:

obvious things don't wear hot pants to a board meeting.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

What?

Lee Griffith:

Note for the summer there.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Not to self, no sequined hot pants for the next

Carrie-Ann Wade:

board meeting.

Lee Griffith:

If you've got a really kinky side, leave it in

Lee Griffith:

the bedroom, you know appropriateness, I suppose it's

Lee Griffith:

that understanding what's that level of appropriateness. And,

Lee Griffith:

you know, if you work somewhere where the rules are really

Lee Griffith:

rigid, and you feel you can't be yourself, how do you understand

Lee Griffith:

if the red lines that are there are real red lines or actually

Lee Griffith:

it's a it's an organisation and a culture that's got it's head

Lee Griffith:

stuck up its backside and actually does need to shake up

Lee Griffith:

in a change? It's a hard one to judge.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

And some of that is about how confidenty ou

Carrie-Ann Wade:

feel about testing those waters. I guess which again is another

Carrie-Ann Wade:

easier said than done. But you know, if you work in an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

organisation where everybody turns up wearing, you know

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wearing grey suits and white shirts, regardless of what

Carrie-Ann Wade:

gender you are like, what happens if you decide that

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you're going to wear a bright colour? What happens if you

Carrie-Ann Wade:

decide you're wearing a red, red you know, red trousers to work

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and judging that reaction a bit. And I think sometimes we can be

Carrie-Ann Wade:

a bit nervous to challenge that status quo, so we don't do it

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and we start to conform because we're worried about a reaction

Carrie-Ann Wade:

without necessarily understanding what that reaction

Carrie-Ann Wade:

might be and more often than not, sometimes there isn't one.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Or people go oh, wow, really like, you know, what you're

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wearing today. It's really bright and colourful or

Carrie-Ann Wade:

whatever. And so sometimes think we go in with our own worries

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that we're going to create this big stir without actually

Carrie-Ann Wade:

necessarily, like knowing that that's the case. But then

Carrie-Ann Wade:

there's also a bit of me that if it then is questioned in the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

workplace, you need to feel confident, you can ask for

Carrie-Ann Wade:

clarity about what that issue is. And I think that's when

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you'll find that maybe it is a bit of a non issue because once

Carrie-Ann Wade:

people are questioned about so you know what doesn't matter if

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I'm wearing bright colours today and not black, grey and navy.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I'm not quite clear. Can you explain to me what the issue is?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

That you'll find people can't really explain that other than

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that they find it a little bit uncomfortable because it's

Carrie-Ann Wade:

different to what they used to. And then it it almost kind of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

takes the takes the heat out of that issue because it really

Carrie-Ann Wade:

isn't one when you come to have a conversation about it.

Lee Griffith:

Yeah. And it's weird because particularly, if

Lee Griffith:

you work in an organisation that perhaps doesn't have a uniform,

Lee Griffith:

or in a department within an organisation where you don't

Lee Griffith:

have to wear a uniform, there isn't necessarily policies,

Lee Griffith:

procedures that that dictate not like when you're at a school and

Lee Griffith:

they say, oh, you've got to wear, we had a riot of school

Lee Griffith:

because someone this is actually really true. So a kid shaved

Lee Griffith:

their head, that left a little fringe, this is peak 90s by the

Lee Griffith:

way, and they were hauled in front of the assembly to be made

Lee Griffith:

an example of because they had the wrong haircut that the

Lee Griffith:

breached school rules. And then the whole school rioted and the

Lee Griffith:

head teacher got sacked and you know, it's all over the north

Lee Griffith:

Wales news at the time. But it's like, you don't necessarily get

Lee Griffith:

that in a workplace. And I suppose yes, you could see what

Lee Griffith:

other people are wearing or doing, but it can be hard to

Lee Griffith:

make that judgement. I know I used to be just to get my hair

Lee Griffith:

cut made me self conscious. Are they going to comment on my hair

Lee Griffith:

today or you've had a haircut and I didn't like attention? So

Lee Griffith:

it can be really simple things versus you know, do I wear heels

Lee Griffith:

or flats?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

It's really weird how some very simple

Carrie-Ann Wade:

things like how many times have you been in a situation where

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you or someone else has maybe dressed slightly more work than

Carrie-Ann Wade:

they normally would and get the comment have you been for an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

interview? Yeah, that's like a standard like line isn't it,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

like just because back then you might have decided that you

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wanted to feel a bit smarter because you could do the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

presentation or whatever. So I think there's something about

Carrie-Ann Wade:

appropriateness of the scenario. And again, that's about

Carrie-Ann Wade:

expectations. If you went into an interview scenario, there

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wouldn't be an expectation that you've made maybe more of an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

effort than you would normally make to look smart, whether

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that's right or wrong. And again, probably not a hot pant

Carrie-Ann Wade:

scenario, depends on what job it is that you're going for an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

interview for. But I feel like you can make an effort and still

Carrie-Ann Wade:

be you and I have to be honest, I don't own a suit and I've

Carrie-Ann Wade:

never worn a suit to an interview. But then there'll be

Carrie-Ann Wade:

lots of people that do because that's what's expected. But

Carrie-Ann Wade:

actually, if I put a suit on, I would feel really uncomfortable

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and so much less likely myself that that would almost become an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

issue for me that would probably affect my confidence in that

Carrie-Ann Wade:

interview because I'd be more aware of what I was wearing

Carrie-Ann Wade:

because I put a suit on.

Lee Griffith:

Well do you know the stress of just buying a

Lee Griffith:

suit, I mean, the meltdowns I've had in the Next changing room

Lee Griffith:

back in the day. You're right, I felt better when I became more

Lee Griffith:

senior and I went for interviews and I wore a dress with a nice

Lee Griffith:

little jacket or something, but not a suit but a nice jacket. I

Lee Griffith:

felt smart but I felt I was representing myself.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I also think I'm just going say this but I

Carrie-Ann Wade:

think the pandemic has changed things quite a lot because

Carrie-Ann Wade:

people spent so much time out of the office environment, out of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

like physical environments. So we're all on the screens with

Carrie-Ann Wade:

our elasticated waist, maybe I wear leggings on the bottom but

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you know when we go in a bit more for comfort because many of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

us have been working from home. more. Actually, when I've gone

Carrie-Ann Wade:

back into my office environment and I'm a leader in my

Carrie-Ann Wade:

organisation, I actually haven't thought twice about wearing

Carrie-Ann Wade:

trainers to the office in a way that before I'd wear them to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

drive in and then put my heels on. And I'm like, well, my

Carrie-Ann Wade:

clothes are still smart enough for the workplace. And what does

Carrie-Ann Wade:

it matter that I've got trainers in the bottom, but it's sort of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

weird that that's a conscious thing to be thinking about

Carrie-Ann Wade:

because it feels so different. But I also think it's proved

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that like just because I've not got heels on doesn't mean I'm

Carrie-Ann Wade:

not going to be good at my job today.

Lee Griffith:

Although this is me getting on my soapbox, but if

Lee Griffith:

you watch The Apprentice like they are still starting to, I

Lee Griffith:

mean they are perpetuating aren't they?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Powersuits, sky high heels if you're a woman and

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you're running around. Very rarely see the women in that

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wearing trousers, it's always dresses. The guys in suits and

Carrie-Ann Wade:

ties. It's almost like oh he's gone casusal today because he

Carrie-Ann Wade:

has taken his tie off. Like yeah, that actually perpetuates

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the whole powersuit business leader image I'm not keen on.

Lee Griffith:

And they're all small business owners asking for

Lee Griffith:

money investing in their small business so actually their

Lee Griffith:

attire couldn't be any more inappropriate from for what it

Lee Griffith:

is that they do and I just, it would be so refreshing to see

Lee Griffith:

these things represented or be more representative on in the

Lee Griffith:

media and on TV and shows like that because I do just think

Lee Griffith:

people carry on with the issue. I mean, House of Commons, the

Lee Griffith:

fact that who what was it? Jeremy Hunt or someone, was on

Lee Griffith:

a zoom call during pandemic and didn't have a tie on for

Lee Griffith:

goodness sake. And you've got rees-Mogg or hatever his name

Lee Griffith:

is, getting the etiquette police saying oh he should be wearing a

Lee Griffith:

tie and I'm like oh my goodness we've got bigger things to worry

Lee Griffith:

about in the world.He needs

Carrie-Ann Wade:

He needs to be wearing his pyjamas more

Carrie-Ann Wade:

considering how many times he has a little power nap

Lee Griffith:

It's that notion that you know you've got to

Lee Griffith:

lead, if you look at Jacinda Ardern, you know she wears nice

Lee Griffith:

dresses. I think she gets that balance really well and she's

Lee Griffith:

setting a good role model type vibe for people out there and

Lee Griffith:

what you can dress like as leader don't have to be in a

Lee Griffith:

black or blue navy suit all the time. Anyway, I will step off my

Lee Griffith:

If you are starting out in your communications career or you're

Lee Griffith:

soapbox.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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out more and you can even book your free discovery call.

Lee Griffith:

If you're enjoying this episode of How To Take The

Lee Griffith:

Lead, please hit subscribe and go leave a review or rating.

Lee Griffith:

We'd also love to hear your stories and thoughts on today's

Lee Griffith:

topic. Please DM us our details are in the show notes or tag us

Lee Griffith:

into your socials using the hashtag how to take the lead.

Lee Griffith:

I suppose the one thing that I'm really mindful of is that we're

Lee Griffith:

sat here as two white, middle class women. And we're having

Lee Griffith:

this conversation through that lens. And we know obviously

Lee Griffith:

there's discrimination that women face in the workplace

Lee Griffith:

there was all that stuff that hit the news a few years ago

Lee Griffith:

about women being forced to wear short skirts and heels into an

Lee Griffith:

office environment for examples. We know that kind of stuff

Lee Griffith:

happens. But there was a report out earlier this month, called

Lee Griffith:

Broken Ladders, we'll leave the link to it in the show notes,

Lee Griffith:

which said that 61% of women of colour reported that they were

Lee Griffith:

having to change to fit in and this compared to something like

Lee Griffith:

44% of white women. And women were saying that they had to

Lee Griffith:

change their language, what they spoke about, their hair, what

Lee Griffith:

they ate, sometimes their name, just fit in. So yeah, it's

Lee Griffith:

really easy for us to sit here and say, you know, lean into

Lee Griffith:

your personality. Don't be scared and all of that stuff.

Lee Griffith:

But obviously there is a huge, huge problem out there, that

Lee Griffith:

does stem from racial and sexual discrimination. And it got me

Lee Griffith:

thinking that obviously as leaders, there's a role that you

Lee Griffith:

have to not only think of yourself, but to think of the

Lee Griffith:

role that you have of making change happen in your

Lee Griffith:

organisations. So that they don't feel discriminated

Lee Griffith:

against. So there's this for me that thing around, you know,

Lee Griffith:

what are you as a leader doing to make sure that your

Lee Griffith:

organisation is being inclusive and that you're tackling

Lee Griffith:

discrimination. And that you will do real actions and you're

Lee Griffith:

monitoring the right stuff and you're empowering people all of

Lee Griffith:

that and I'm sure we'll get into that as a separate topic at some

Lee Griffith:

point because it's really important I don't want to kind

Lee Griffith:

of wash over it, but I do think the other the other element of

Lee Griffith:

it is that as a leader, if you start showing up as yourself,

Lee Griffith:

think of how empowering and the message that can set for your

Lee Griffith:

teams who perhaps feel that they can't fit in. So I think

Lee Griffith:

actually it isn't just about do I wear heels or not. It can send

Lee Griffith:

a really powerful message.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Yeah, absolutely. I think you're

Carrie-Ann Wade:

absolutely right. You need to consider what your role is as a

Carrie-Ann Wade:

leader as a role model within your team within your

Lee Griffith:

Oh, she went right in on the right in on the

Lee Griffith:

organisation and beyond. I think it's so easy for leaders and

Lee Griffith:

organisations to say, you know, we really value diversity, we

Lee Griffith:

really value like your unique perspective and what you bring

Lee Griffith:

to the workplace. So you know, we want you to bring the best

Lee Griffith:

version of you, but actually, how do you go on to kind of show

Lee Griffith:

that, for that not just to be words that you say? So there's

Lee Griffith:

something about I think it's your role as a leader to be

Lee Griffith:

comfortable, you know, not conforming to all of those

Lee Griffith:

stereotypes, to be okay with yourself demonstrating that

Lee Griffith:

you're, your version of you and that you're not being a bit

Lee Griffith:

fake. So I think that you also have to be able to have, I guess

Lee Griffith:

some of those conversations and invite those conversations to

Lee Griffith:

happen as a leader, but you need to understand where some of this

Lee Griffith:

is, is acting out in your organisation and ask people what

Lee Griffith:

it is that we could be doing to make people feel more

Lee Griffith:

comfortable with that space, because I don't think we can

Lee Griffith:

assume to know. You talked about it just now, we are coming at

Lee Griffith:

this as two white women so we can't assume to know what

Lee Griffith:

changes might need to happen to make other people who are

Lee Griffith:

different to us feel able to be their authentic selves in the

Lee Griffith:

workplace. I think if there is something about that kind of

Lee Griffith:

openness and transparency of conversation, and the ability to

Lee Griffith:

do some active listening and take some action in that space,

Lee Griffith:

definitely. I mean I also think sometimes women are sometimesour

Lee Griffith:

worst enemies. I've been in situations before, one example

Lee Griffith:

I've been on a course where there were quite a lot of very

Lee Griffith:

young women who were starting out their leadership journeys

Lee Griffith:

and they had someone there giving advice and one of the

Lee Griffith:

questions from one of the delegates was, you know, what

Lee Griffith:

advice could you give me about going for interviews for more

Lee Griffith:

senior roles in my profession, and the very first bit of advice

Lee Griffith:

that this woman gave, who was there as the keynote speaker was

Lee Griffith:

"Well, I would suggest that maybe you might straighten your

Lee Griffith:

hair before you have your interview."

Lee Griffith:

personal?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Right in on appearance, like my chin hit the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

table, and I'm like, are you actually kidding me? And I'm

Carrie-Ann Wade:

like, that's a, that's not constructive and helpful b, what

Carrie-Ann Wade:

difference really should make into somebody's ability to be

Carrie-Ann Wade:

able to do a job. And actually what this person is looking for

Carrie-Ann Wade:

is some really practical helpful advice about how to prep for

Carrie-Ann Wade:

interviews for the more senior roles, not to be told that you

Carrie-Ann Wade:

don't fit because your hair's curly. Really?

Lee Griffith:

Did anyone challenge that?

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I tried to challenge it and got shut down

Carrie-Ann Wade:

quite quickly in the conversation got moved on. And,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

and what was weird was that everybody afterwards had a

Carrie-Ann Wade:

conversation about how inappropriate it was, but waited

Carrie-Ann Wade:

until the speaker was gone, kind of wasn't in the room to have

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that conversation. But again, I think there was something there

Carrie-Ann Wade:

about the dynamic, it was quite young individuals who are at

Carrie-Ann Wade:

early stages in their leadership journeys with somebody who was

Carrie-Ann Wade:

quite a lot older and more experienced. So maybe there was

Carrie-Ann Wade:

an acceptance that we don't challenge this view and

Carrie-Ann Wade:

actually, they know best so I feel like there's still so much

Carrie-Ann Wade:

work to do in this area to be honest with you now we have

Carrie-Ann Wade:

started talking about it.

Lee Griffith:

And it's an interesting thing, you know,

Lee Griffith:

absolutely. That is not inappropriate, that's not

Lee Griffith:

appropriate guidance to be given someone but that doesn't - I'm

Lee Griffith:

almost going to go back on myself a little bit, but that

Lee Griffith:

doesn't preclude that you shouldn't give advice to people

Lee Griffith:

if you think there are things to, I know that certainly in my

Lee Griffith:

career, I've had to speak to people just to suggest that

Lee Griffith:

they, you know, smartened up for interview or whatever and it

Lee Griffith:

isn't because you know, they weren't wearing a suit but it

Lee Griffith:

was because they were wearing a little vest top and looked like

Lee Griffith:

they were gonna sit out in a garden rather than, and you just

Lee Griffith:

knew that they weren't represented, people weren't

Lee Griffith:

going to look beyond their looks. And so you're like, you

Lee Griffith:

know, put cardigan on or do something that just elevates you

Lee Griffith:

a little bit but still feels comfortable for you.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Yeah, and I think it's back to that point,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

about appropriateness for the scenario so like judge the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

environment you're going to be in and think about what works

Carrie-Ann Wade:

but how you can put your take on it and represent your

Carrie-Ann Wade:

personality. I've had to have those same conversations before

Carrie-Ann Wade:

where I've worked with somebody who, you know, would wear super

Carrie-Ann Wade:

high heels and fairly short skirts to work and actually, in

Carrie-Ann Wade:

our office environment, like didn't really make a difference,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

but actually, they were going to be going to do a visit to a male

Carrie-Ann Wade:

forensic mental health ward and it's like you actually need to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

think about, you know, how you're going to represent

Carrie-Ann Wade:

yourself in that environment, not only for you, but for the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

people that you're going to be around all day. And actually,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that probably isn't necessarily going to be the most appropriate

Carrie-Ann Wade:

attire to wear and actually, there might be a uniform policy

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that staff adhere to because it's in a clinical, very

Carrie-Ann Wade:

different environment. But I think you have to be able to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

have those conversations without feeling like it's something

Carrie-Ann Wade:

awkward

Lee Griffith:

Yeah, yeah, but coming from the right space, not

Lee Griffith:

just because you personally don't like something or you

Lee Griffith:

think or you're trying to perpetuate the issues that you

Lee Griffith:

see because you think that's the culture of the organisation or

Lee Griffith:

whatever. I do think there is, I worked with it a Chief Exec

Lee Griffith:

once and we had conversation about does he wear a tie or not.

Lee Griffith:

And you think what a trivial of all the stuff you could talk

Lee Griffith:

about, but that was a big thing for them. Because they were so

Lee Griffith:

used to being like I'm a man who has to wear a suit and tie

Lee Griffith:

because that's what's expected of me in a corporate

Lee Griffith:

environment. Do you ever wear a suit and tie when you're at home

Lee Griffith:

or go out places and he's like, no, I don't. Just wear what you

Lee Griffith:

feel comfortable, roll your sleeves up and take your tie off

Lee Griffith:

and actually the difference in his demeanour when he started

Lee Griffith:

doing that he became more personable because he felt more

Lee Griffith:

comfortable in his skin.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

And it is funny, isn't it how what you

Carrie-Ann Wade:

wear can be. It feels like it's very trivial but can almost take

Carrie-Ann Wade:

up quite a lot of time and energy in terms of focus. So

Carrie-Ann Wade:

again another example of very senior director who had their

Carrie-Ann Wade:

first experience oncall in a health setting, and I was the

Carrie-Ann Wade:

comms person oncall. There'd been a fire at a local hospital

Carrie-Ann Wade:

that needed to be evacuated. Actually, the senior director

Carrie-Ann Wade:

role was actually to be being more strategic thinking about

Carrie-Ann Wade:

what's going to be happening in the aftermath, there was

Carrie-Ann Wade:

somebody onsite managing the immediate issue. But they phoned

Carrie-Ann Wade:

for two bits of advice. The first bit was should they go to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the hospital site? And my advice at the time was not if you don't

Carrie-Ann Wade:

need to because it's under control. And actually you need

Carrie-Ann Wade:

to be thinking about what happens tomorrow, in a week's

Carrie-Ann Wade:

time, you know, two weeks time so I don't know what value

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you're going to be adding by going. The second question haing

Carrie-Ann Wade:

ignored the fact that I didn't think they should go, was if I

Carrie-Ann Wade:

go should I wear a suit? That is honest to God, two o'clock in

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the morning conversation with somebody. And it's, again, I

Carrie-Ann Wade:

don't think you need to be going to site if you're going to

Carrie-Ann Wade:

choose to go, it doesn't really matter what you wear and

Carrie-Ann Wade:

probably not because they're evacuating patients from

Carrie-Ann Wade:

hospitals. So do you need to be wearing a suit for that and

Carrie-Ann Wade:

their view was because it would show that I've got authority

Carrie-Ann Wade:

it's like but have you because it's not your role to either

Carrie-Ann Wade:

anyway, sorry, I digress into a whole other conversation

Lee Griffith:

It' true that you know, you look at again, you go

Lee Griffith:

back to the politicians, they do their big walk abouts talk and

Lee Griffith:

go and visit people in different places. Sometimes yes, a suit

Lee Griffith:

does work when they're just doing the meet and greets

Lee Griffith:

walking down the street type piece, they look really

Lee Griffith:

uncomfortable and out of place. I mean, that could just be

Lee Griffith:

because their politicians are really not connected to the

Lee Griffith:

world. But they do and sometimes they look really awkward. So I

Lee Griffith:

do think that there is something about leaning into what you feel

Lee Griffith:

comfortable with. Assessing the environment and situation that

Lee Griffith:

you're in. So our how to moment if you've listened to this

Lee Griffith:

epsiode, you're feeling inspired, but perhaps

Lee Griffith:

questioning what's next, I'm sure we've got some actionable

Lee Griffith:

tips you can take forward. I'm going to hand over to my

Lee Griffith:

esteemed colleague.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Oh blimey, the pressure but my first tip is

Carrie-Ann Wade:

definitely work out what you feel particularly in the privacy

Carrie-Ann Wade:

but it doesn't actually have to just be about your appearance,

Carrie-Ann Wade:

work out what makes you feel most confident in the workplace.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

And what helps you to feel like you're going to smash it at

Carrie-Ann Wade:

work, thats my number one thing to go away and think about. And

Carrie-Ann Wade:

I also think consider whether whether there's an opportunity

Carrie-Ann Wade:

to initiate discussions, maybe in your own team or more broadly

Carrie-Ann Wade:

in your organisation to ask people for their views about

Carrie-Ann Wade:

this. And actually what would help them feel more comfortable

Carrie-Ann Wade:

showing up being authentic in the workplace. If you've got an

Carrie-Ann Wade:

outdated, uniform policy about what people have to wear, can

Carrie-Ann Wade:

you use that as your starting point? To really start having

Carrie-Ann Wade:

some conversations about this because it sounds trivial, but

Carrie-Ann Wade:

actually, fundamentally, what we're saying is sometimes it's

Carrie-Ann Wade:

the sort of stuff that can stop people feeling like they can

Carrie-Ann Wade:

show up and be their best in the workplace, and that's absolutely

Carrie-Ann Wade:

not what we're wanting to convey.

Lee Griffith:

And I think that has a ripple effect on the whole

Lee Griffith:

culture of an organisation so it can seem really minor, but

Lee Griffith:

actually is probably one of the biggest signifiers of how staff

Lee Griffith:

are feeling. I really like that. I think my only addition would

Lee Griffith:

be to recognise the role you play as a role model. And so

Lee Griffith:

yes, you may well feel really comfortable wearing a suit and

Lee Griffith:

tie, but just think about actually the what that might

Lee Griffith:

bring up for people and what that might be stopping other

Lee Griffith:

people from doing. So there is a reflection piece aswell.

Carrie-Ann Wade:

Thanks for listening to today's episode of

Carrie-Ann Wade:

How To Take The Lead

Lee Griffith:

Don't forget to hit subscribe to the first to

Lee Griffith:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Lee Griffith:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

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Lee Griffith:

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Carrie-Ann Wade:

Until next week, get out there and take the