1. To work effectively with others, you must know yourself first.

That is, appreciating your strengths, limiting behaviours and how you typically show up in the world. It’s important not to limit your understanding to the outcomes of psychometrics or feedback from your nearest and dearest. Consider who you can work with and how you can create the richest picture of yourself from multiple perspectives. You need to understand how other people experience

2. The first step on the leadership journey is to learn to be an effective follower.

Do you know how effective followers behave? Are you one? How effective are the people who are following you now? If you haven’t, read the seminal work of Kelley and consider where your behaviours fit – and what you might do to become more effective. It is almost impossible to be a good leader if you aren’t also a good follower. How do you support your leaders?

3. Why would someone pick you to be on their team?

What behaviours, qualities and expertise do you display that others admire and value? How can you harness them to be a more effective teammate/partner?  And is there anything in your shadow that make you less effective? Are there typical people or environmental factors that cause you to be a less effective partner? If you know what they are, you can create the conditions where you can thrive…or even leave a place that has the conditions that limit your impact and success.

4. The best leaders have the confidence to lead, follow, or partner interchangeably

And don’t feel that these different roles threaten their status, power, or impact. They work collegiately and collaboratively. They know when to take the lead and when to sit back and empower others. Have you thought critically about how you behave in these three roles? Engaging in coaching can really help you to see how you are seen by others in these three roles – so you can adapt accordingly.

5. Leadership doesn’t have a finish line or a gold standard.

Leaders are constantly learning, evolving with a mindset of curiosity and an understanding of the power of reflection. If you are spending a lot of time doing the stuff of leadership and not much time thinking about being a leader, then you are limiting your leadership potential. How will you create the capacity for self-growth?

6. Think about when you started being a leader

For many of us, leadership is thrust upon us early in our lives – perhaps at school, in sporting activities and even in the family. What have you learned in all those situations? What did you learn about being a follower and partner? Leadership is more than just a job title or position.

Written by Dr Rona Mackenzie

If you want to hear more from Dr Rona Mackenzie she will be speaking at our next event The SHE Show South, Tuesday 11th July 2023, DoubleTree by Hilton, MK Dons Stadium, Milton Keynes


Dr Rona Mackanzie, Director Of Youth Leadership, Inspirational Development Group

Rona spent the first twenty years of her career in education, working across seven schools in all facets of leadership and management. Whilst working full time, she completed a Masters and Doctorate, focusing on Leaders and Leadership, and conducted Ofsted inspections in the secondary sector – but please don’t hold that against her!

In 2013, she was appointed as the Founding Principal of Lincoln UTC, a 14-19 college specialising in Science and Engineering. She worked closely with industry partners and as a team they enabled students to develop personally, technically, and academically. LUTC graduates launched successful careers and were the kind of people you’d want as a colleague – that’s the gold standard!

Rona became frustrated with the education systems focus on exam results as the primary measure of success, so she hung up her headship boots in 2017 and returned to university. In her transition to industry, she completed an MBA and was headhunted to the role of Chief Operating Officer of a luxury jewellery company – amazing for a woman who didn’t wear jewellery herself. After three years she moved to a business development role in the cyber security sector and joined the Inspirational Development Group in 2021.

Rona is always seeking ways to support young people to be ready for the challenges of life. At IDG she champions the development of leadership capacity in young people and is working globally to change the face of compulsory education as we know it. She also works with ‘big kids’ and delivers leadership development programmes to an array of global corporate clients operating in the public, private and third sectors. She and her suitcase are well travelled, including recent trips to clients in the UK, Ireland, Jordan, Bahrain, and the UAE, and she’s often seen on-screen engaging with delegates in the far-flung corners of the world.

In her spare time, Rona is the Chair of Zest Theatre Company, a national portfolio arts charity whose work amplifies the voices of young people. A lifelong sportswoman, she is most at home in the gym, under water, or in the mountains. She is currently studying to become a Qigong instructor – a new way for her to try and slow down and connect with the here-and-now. Ask her how she’s getting on…

Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.