“Many Woman Make Good Mentors” Interview with Ann Bonner on Leadership

Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment

Today, I spoke to Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment about leadership. She has worked successfully in leading marketing roles. I have known her for many years now, and have secretly been watching and admiring her on her successful collaborations and networking abilities, even in very challenging environments. Many people, including me, have learned from her leadership and mentoring abilities.

Ann, from your experience as a successful woman in leading marketing roles – what are the most distinctive characteristics that make “real leaders”, meaning “charismatic role models”?

In my experience, I was always motivated by leaders who were honest, had the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly and there was a mutual trust in the relationship. One will always be inspired and motivated by a leader to lead by example, does not discriminate, empowers, listens, encourages and recognises successes.

Do you think, engaging leaders are natural talents or rather that everyone can be a leader?

I do believe that some people are more charismatic than others naturally, but this doesn’t necessarily make them good leaders. I think you can learn to be a good leader. Life’s experience is a great teacher and if you are lucky enough to work with an inspirational leader you can learn a lot from a good mentor.

Are there differences between woman leading a team and men leading a team? What do men better than women or the other way round?

I think it depends on the individual man or woman. My own experience, in very male dominated industries, found some women to be more creative, better at empowering staff, defining job expectations and providing constructive feedback. I think many women make good mentors because they encourage openness, are more accessible and have a tendency to express appreciation more easily. They are also greater calculated risk-takers.

Many businesses are still very male-dominant. Women in leading positions are still an exception, no matter what the newspapers say. From your point of view, Ann, what is important for women to be perceived and appreciated as a leader among men?

In my opinion, the leadership qualities described above are equally important to both men and women. However, to be seen as equal among men, women tend to have to work harder at projecting their leadership qualities. Until this changes, it is very important to connect with the right network within the specific organisation in order to gain some strong sponsorship and inclusion.

How can women best network among men?

Collaboration networks already exist in any organisation – both formal and informal. By establishing relationships with the decision makers as well as the guys who have the knowledge and the power, you will soon build a collaborative network. Find a situation where you can talk to them about something they are interested in, or discuss a project that you know is their priority and offer help if you can. It may be that you need introduction by someone, who is already in your network, or if there is a social event or project team where you have an opportunity to introduce yourself and build on the initial introduction. One contact may lead to another contact.

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