Chiara Di Rienzo on women in leadership

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Bidvest Noonan asked Acuity-Services Director, Chiara Di Rienzo, to share some of the insights and lessons that helped shape her career.

In your opinion, what defines a great leader?

If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that great leaders, in work and life, are courageous enough to show vulnerability and lead with empathy and compassion.

Great leadership in my opinion is also the ability to create a meaningful and inspiring culture that connects people to the brand and purpose; a culture where people are supported to be their best, and achieve outstanding business results in a consistent way.

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

I think that some of the traits that great leaders possess are integrity, a sense of purpose, a clear vision, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence.

Why is it so important that women have leadership positions?

Research shows that the more diverse and inclusive the culture of an organisation, the better its business results are.

Our society undoubtedly needs many more women in top leadership roles to help drive important changes in the workplace that can be beneficial for both men and women. Our society is not there yet and much more work is needed to get more women into leadership roles, to bridge the gender pay gap, and enhance work-life balance. It is not just about gender, we need diversity and inclusivity at the top in both government posts and C-suite roles. We also need to engage in tough conversations about what the future of the workplace should look like and what changes we want to see.

Which woman has inspired you the most and why?

I have been inspired by so many women at different times in my life.

I find Carol Dweck’s research on fixed mindset (abilities are fixed) and growth mindset (abilities can be developed) incredibly empowering. I remember reading an article about it eight years ago in the Harvard Business Review and using it over and over again when leading resilience and leadership training. Her work inspired my drive for continuous improvement through learning and development.

Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability is also incredibly powerful. What she says about vulnerability has pretty much become my mantra: “vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat; it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in”.

How have you developed your confidence as a leader?

My journey towards confident leadership started when I realised that confidence means courage; the courage to learn from my mistakes, the courage to do something completely new and out of my comfort zone (“feeling the fear and do it anyway” what a great book by Susan Jeffers!) and the courage of putting myself out there. For me, confidence is a muscle that I have to exercise regularly!

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

I would give them the same advice I would give to myself which is: be yourself, stay truthful to who you are and the things that make you unique and distinctive. Take ownership of your own development and invest energy in building meaningful relationships with people. Focus on your strengths, the things that you love doing, and that energise you. Ultimately those are the things that will make you feel fulfilled and at your best from a work and personal life standpoint.

#InternationalWomensDay #ChooseToChallenge #IWD21 #HappyIWD

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