Becoming a great female leader and the principles for success with Ria Story

Becoming a great female leader and the principles for success with Ria Story

How do we help women to shine within the workplace?

Today’s guest, Ria Story, overcame a tragic childhood to become a successful and confident leader, and motivates other female professionals to help them reach their full potential. She joins us to discuss gender bias in the workplace, the correlation between success and positive attitude, and confidence and authenticity.

Ria has published nine books, with her most recent one being Leadership Gems for Women: 30 Characteristics of Very Successful Women, and she works as a motivational speaker where she proves that “it’s not what happens to you, it’s who you become because of it.”

On today’s podcast:

  • The definition of leadership
  • Ria’s book – Leadership Gems for Women: 30 Characteristics of Very Successful Women
  • How important is authenticity in the workplace?
  • Success and positive attitude
  • Confidence tips for female professionals
  • Gender bias in the workplace


The definition of leadership

Ria used to have the impression that she wasn’t a natural or gifted leader, until she realised that leadership is defined by influence.

We influence everyone around us, so the key to becoming a great leader is figuring out how we can influence people positively. When you approach leadership in this way, you realise that leadership is indeed a verb, not a noun, and that in actioning it you can influence someone every day.

These principles apply in the workplace at all levels, as you can influence your peers, your team, and your manager, but also at home where you can influence your spouse and your children positively.

Ria’s book – Leadership Gems for Women: 30 Characteristics of Very Successful Women

The motivation behind this publication came from Ria wanting to write a book that contained concepts and principles of leadership which she wished she’d known when she started in her career.

As there are more than 30 characteristics of very successful women, she thought it important to pick the most impactful principles which would have helped as she transitioned and progressed in her career as it’s important to share wisdom, knowledge and experiences to others facing the same obstacles.

Ria says that her biggest challenge in the workplace which she needed to overcome to be able to improve herself and progress in her career, was herself and her own limitations. She wasn’t a natural communicator as she had grown up in an isolated and abusive environment, and wasn’t a natural in conversation. As she grew in her career, she worked to improve her communication skills as she recognised how important this is to be able to become a successful influencer.

Ria didn’t have the natural gift of communication and leadership but taught herself the key principles to make it happen. She claims “if I can do it, anyone can.”

Leadership is something in which we can all improve on and get better at, and the tried and true principles which have been around for a long time are all noted in Leadership Gems for Women: 30 Characteristics of Very Successful Women. The principles work in every situation, and it is a natural progression for influence to increase if we take the principles and do them well.

How important is authenticity in the workplace?

It is critical to be authentic in the workplace, and to represent yourself in a true and honest way. Authenticity is sometimes incorrectly perceived as a weakness as it does require us to be vulnerable, however if we are able to admit to not knowing an answer to something or to admit to making a mistake, it builds trust with people around us.

No one is perfect, and people want to know that leaders know they’re not perfect and are comfortable admitting that. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Our influence increases when we can be authentic and acknowledge those strengths.

We don’t become better leaders by pretending we’re perfect, we become better when we’re able to overcome things.

Success and positive attitude

Being successful comes down to the attitude of being positive. When we’re positive while everything is going right, it doesn’t increase influence as that is what people expect. However, when things are going wrong and we’re positive, that’s when influence increases.

There are three ways to be more positive. These are with our thoughts, our actions, and our words. Embrace opportunities as a chance to be creative, read positive books and volunteer to help someone, and replace the word ‘can’t’ with ‘how can I…’.

Negative thoughts become negative actions and behaviours, so to influence people and to become a great leader it all stems from positivity.

Confidence tips for female professionals

We all have two types of confidence. The first is self-confidence which is our values, our beliefs, are confident in who we are and what we will stand up for. This is enhanced by lessons and experiences in life, and it doesn’t change regardless of environment.

The second kind of confidence we have is situational confidence. This is the knowledge we have and is more competency-based. This does change, as the situational confidence we have on the first day of a new job will be different to when we’ve been there a long time.

Ria’s advice is to balance both character and competency and to put time and energy into improving skills whilst not forgetting to improve the character as the latter is static and doesn’t change. Have a personal growth plan.

People work hard to put themselves in a position to be successful, but don’t put time into their own professional development to grow. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, no one else will be either.

Gender bias in the workplace

Women feel a lot of pressure in the workplace to be the leader who has all the answers, and there is pressure on them to be leaders who give the impression of someone who has it all together.

This pressure can be relieved if men are authentic and admit to not having all the answers and making mistakes, as it then creates an open culture for women to do the same.

If we value the strengths and differences of our team regardless of gender, it opens up the opportunity to make the team strong as we work with our strengths together.

What we permit as leaders is what we promote, so there needs to be a lack of tolerance of bias from those who influence others.