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Leaving loudly and leading loudly

Why leadership should be visible
Why leadership should be visible

For women in business, the question of how to lead can feel complex. Misogyny is unfortunately still a part of many women’s lived experiences. Appearing confident and stating your opinion can be perceived differently to your male counterparts. That is one of the reasons why women have such a prominent role to play in workplaces.

What is leading loudly?

Leading loudly is the idea that managers and senior staff have an important part to play in creating a safe and welcoming work environment for all, one that is diverse, inclusive and values a healthy work-life balance.

It is inspired by the idea that, rather than just relying on policies and HR systems, leaders can influence their staff informally. Heard of leaving loudly? That’s the idea that if managers make a point of acknowledging when they leave the office, they set the tone for their teams in a positive way. We should never be sneaking out for childcare!

Many companies and business leaders have been championing this approach over the last few years. In Australia, Robert Rietbroek – CEO of PepsiCo – has talked publicly about how he asks his team to do it every day when leaving the office.[1]

Why does leaving loudly matter? Because work culture, especially in corporate settings, has traditionally put a value on spending long hours at your desk. This is particularly true in large law firms, managing consultancy companies and the financial sector.

Anna Whitehouse of Flexappeal fame is an incredible advocate for flexible working and leaving loudly! Be sure to check her out if you are new to this area.

Why does leaving loudly matter?

Where to start? Leading loudly is all about acknowledging that leaving work on time, or for a specific purpose is not frowned upon and is part of life. Our lives do not cease to exist when we step into the office or open our lap top. And, to be honest, it’s a rather outdated way of working. We all experience challenges as well as day-to-day expectations that need to be managed. Unfortunately, these parts of our lives are not always spoken about out loud in the workplace.

With the last few years of Covid ups and downs still in our wake, flexible working and the reality of work life and personal live had become ever more prevalent. Have you sat on a call with Peppa Pig on and the tv tactically on mute when you need to speak on a meeting? How about the doorbell ringing halfway through a Zoom call? How ever senior you are in your role, a light hearted, honest and open approach to our working environment is far more enjoyable and productive. A far cry from the corporate 9-5 that many of us have grown up with.

Topics like mental health and wellbeing have been on the agenda like never before over recent years. The reality that workers are humans, with real families, childcare commitments and that can experience illnesses and disruption in their lives are often not voiced openly in the workplace. Leading loudly is important because it is the first step towards creating an environment where employees can feel that acknowledging their challenges and vulnerabilities will not result in being penalised is a huge morale boost and helps inspire loyalty.

How do I lead loudly?

Like any other habit, it may come more naturally to some than to others. Openness and curiosity are great places to start. Initiate conversations with colleagues, ask questions and be ready to stand in solidarity – for the good and bad times.

As well as creating a space where your team can feel comfortable to set boundaries with work, leading loudly as a principle can also help to address your company’s equality goals. As a woman, recognising that pregnancy, periods and the menopause have an impact on yourself, and other women’s comfort levels is not as commonplace as we might like. Do you shrink if you need to go to the toilet during your period? A casual acknowledgement to your team may feel forthright, but by being open with each other we can help to address the everyday difficulties we all face and ensure that no one is suffering in silence.

Want to learn more? Here are some useful links

Beth Hellowell
Founder of Women in Agencies and co-founder of Signify Digital. Mother, social media scroller and frequent pasta eater.