4 Things All Aspiring Female Leaders Should Do

At this year’s Bisnow’s Women Leading Real Estate conference, Greystar’s Michela Hancock (MD, Construction & Development) will be chairing a panel discussion involving some of the leading female talent in the Real Estate industry.  Moderating a discussion focused on “How I Made It”, the panel will be tackling topics spanning leadership, equality and how they have been well equipped to drive and foster their own professional growth.

Ahead of the event, Michela and other female leaders at Greystar have shared  key insights into their career journeys, how they have delivered on some of their biggest successes, as well as  the core support mechanisms that have helped them exceed professionally.  Below, Greystar’s Bella Peacock (MD, Asset Execution), Lizzie Pennant (Legal Director) and Eva Kiivit (Regional Operations Manager) share some of the behaviours that have helped them drive to success.

1. Be a Leader

Pushing through glass ceilings is something that requires both tenacity and perseverance.  As many would agree, it is often far easier to stay in your comfort zone than to expand your horizons into arenas that many may feel are stereotypically ‘out of your lane’.  As Michela describes, in order to really achieve against her goals, she has found it imperative to proactively expand her horizons and step outside of what is typically expected:

 “It is so important to push yourself. You should be pushing yourself to grow and after some of the most challenging times in my life, I realized that it is what made me better. You can always gauge when you feel too comfortable, which probably means it is time to start pushing yourself and say ‘yes’ to opportunities to see where they lead.”

Michela goes on to say that simply asking “can I help?” can encourage others to do the same and has led to multiple new opportunities presenting themselves.  Equally, Michela comments that being a support figure to those trying to achieve their own goals can encourage an environment of mutual respect and equality, often leading to longer term success.

2. Be Balanced

In today’s environment, encouraging and promoting people in the organisation to strike a healthy work-life balance is undoubtedly a strategic objective of any HR leader.  However, it is becoming more important to individuals and can be a key factor when making career decisions. When considering output vs reward, Eva Kiivit explains that leaders should be driving towards working smarter and better, not longer and harder:

 “We are in this ‘rat race’ where everyone wants to have a career, work really hard and do everything. But then sometimes we realize that the hours are growing and the days are no longer the traditional 9 to 5, but slowly stretching from 8-6 to even 10 or even 12 hours a day and then before we know it we are sitting in the office without that much reward. The aim is to be productive and do your best, and that doesn’t necessarily mean waiting for everyone in the office or your manager to leave. Go home and spend time working on yourself!”.

Eva is appreciative that Greystar encourages this approach and that the organisation continues to advocate a companywide flexible working policy.  Eva mentions that this feeling of inclusivity empowers her to deliver for the business in a way well suited to both her lifestyle and ways of working, without compromising either.

3. Be Brave

According to Bella Peacock, a long-considered issue facing progression in the workplace is the hesitance of future female leaders to proactively seek reward and career progression where it is often deserved.  A key member of Greystar’s European Leadership team, Bella does however recognise some of the initial hesitancy for female talent to drive career conversations themselves, aware that a lacking on confidence can be a natural blocker to success.

Albeit something being confronted on a much wider platform, Bella advocates that women can do small but impactful things to help protect against the prevalence of “imposter syndrome” and to help encourage their own professional growth:

“Well, I can learn that on the job. I’m not going to get a job if I am not capable and I won’t know if I am ready until I take a chance”. 

Bella encourages vocalising your doubts to your support network, both personal and professional, as well as seeking out personal development opportunities such as Greystar’s mentoring programme, which can help facilitate an open and honest conversation across peer groups when it comes to approaching careers changing decisions.
In short, Bella encourages women to be brave and positively confront opportunities in the work place, even if it seems daunting at first.  

4. Build Your Network

One theme that often runs through any discussion around driving to success is effectively building your own networks, both professional and personal.

Lizzie Pennant encourages everyone to build their professional network and proactively reach out to industry peers and leaders that you’ve encountered at networking events.  Broadening your view of your industry, reaching out to a mentor or a simple coffee invitation can lead to a wealth of new experiences and opportunities.  Lizzie comments that asking likeminded professionals about their career journeys can “often be more informative and inspiring than asking for advice directly”.

Michela also stresses the importance of your personal network and how building this can help lay the foundations of future success.  Michela is a firm believer that having a strong personal support network enables her to take a step back and really consider different perspectives on how best to approach a complex decision or situation; she calls them “cheerleaders”.

These insights were provided and inspired by some of the leading female talent at Greystar.  We look forward to meeting you at 2020’s Bisnow’s Women Leading Real Estate conference to learn more.



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