Episode 168 | How to become a Leader by Design | Colleen Callander

You don’t need a title to be a leader. You have the ability to lead every day with each reaction, interaction, action and decision you make. That’s the central premise of Colleen Callander’s life and work.

Colleen forged a career in the tough retail trade, culminating in 13 years as CEO of iconic Aussie brands Sussan and Sports Girl.  During this time she crafted a clear and articulate leadership philosophy. And about how to juggle a busy home life with her career.  She’s also passionate about the important role that women can play in developing healthy, thriving workplaces.


Lesson Learned

Colleen’s Top three tips

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Don’t strive for perfection
  3. Be kind.

Leadership in our lives

Colleen talks  about leadership, but she also talks about leading in our own lives. It doesn’t matter where you are, we have to be leading in our own lives first. 70% of leadership is about the way we lead ourselves. And that means having structures and boundaries. That means having disciplines and rules. That means having goals. That means also the way we face negativity, how we react. And what sort of mindset we have. Successful leadership is around structure and disciplines. But not just in leadership but leading ourselves.

Confidence is a muscle

We often compare ourselves to other people, whether that be their lives, their appearance, their success. Confidence is a muscle the more we use it the stronger that muscle is going to get for us. It’s not about trying to be the smartest person in the room. It’s not about being extroverted. We are not born with confidence. No one is born with confidence. It’s something that we develop as we live our lives and experience and fall over and pick ourselves up.

Stop the leadership comparisons

A lot of people think they are not as successful as the people around them. But then they’re not willing to put in the work to get there. I think that’s one of them. Confidence is contagious. So we do need to surround ourselves with confident people and positive people because that helps bring our positivity and confidence up. And we also have to change that inner critic. We say things like:

“I’m not good enough. I’m not fast enough. I’m not skinny enough. I’m not smart enough.”

It is naturally how we sort of look at things. And particularly women self sabotage a lot. So we need to change the narrative.  We need to change that story and create a much more empowering story for ourselves. Because we have the worst inner critic. When you do get to that point where you are questioning, stop and ask yourself is this story I’m telling myself really true? And often it’s not. So we need to change the story and make it one that is much more empowering that allows us to then take action and put in that hard work



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