If we want to create a better Australia, hearing the voices of young women is essential.
That’s according to 21-year-old youth leader Yasmin Poole, the latest guest on The Leadership Lessons, a podcast series launched by Women’s Agenda and supported by Salesforce.
“Often, young women are expected to sit down and listen, but there is so much scope in unpacking their lived experience,” Yasmin tells host Kate Mills on the podcast.
“It’s also about telling young women, you have the right, as much as anyone, to think about the future you would like to see and create.”
Yasmin is just 21, but her list of leadership credentials is so extensive it’s almost impossible to imagine how she’s managed to fit it all in since leaving high school not so many years ago.
Listen to the latest episode of The Leadership Lessons below, and go and subscribe at iTunes.
She’s the Chair of the Victorian Government’s Youth Congress that represents over a million young Australians, she’s led the global business development of 180 Degrees Consulting. She is Plan International’s Youth Ambassador, the newly appointed non-executive board director at Oz Harvest and has represented Australian youth at APEC and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Impressively, she was the youngest member of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence in 2019, and Top 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian Australians.
It’s wild to think that someone with such breadth of influential leadership experience already under their belt, had once never considered that someone who looked like her, as a young Asian Australian woman, could be a leader.
“I always thought that leadership was older, largely white men, to be honest,” she admits.
In the podcast, Kate Mills asks Yasmin about her leadership style. Who has she modelled herself on and what skills are the most valuable?
Yasmin says for her, it comes down to challenging what conventional leadership has often looked like, and focusing on things like empathy, collaboration, and kindness.
In this way, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been influential, with Yasmin saying that her response to the COVID-19 crisis has been really incredible.
“I really resonate with when she says to lead with kindness,” Yasmin says. “I think that’s a really undervalued trait, unfortunately in politics.”
“To be kind. And to have the humility to know you don’t have to be the strong man and to know absolutely everything, but to bring in others who have that knowledge and experience.”
As a leader, Yasmin is usually the most confident when she’s not the loudest person in the room, and taking up the most air time.
“Actually, taking on a more facilitating approach, a more consensus-based model and really thinking about how we tease out what people are really thinking and feeling, especially those who may be quieter,” she says.
“The conventional form of leadership can often be about the loudest person, the firmest handshake, that dominating role. That never felt comfortable for me.”
As someone who has found herself representing Australia’s youth on more than one occasion, Yasmin is really concerned about the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“If you look at the COVID-19 response, we have Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt, and Brendan Murphy. It’s very much led by conventional, status quo leadership,” she said.
There’s an urgent need for the government to consult with young people, especially as they are being the hardest hit from the economic fallout.
“The downside about being led by one group, and that includes one age group, is that there is going to be blind spots,” Yasmin says.
“Young people were the first to be punished, they were the first to lose their jobs. If you look at the university reforms that have been proposed, they punish low-income young Australians disproportionately.
“The economic impacts will be felt by young people possibly throughout the course of their lives.”
Yasmin says young people can make waves through advocacy – you only need to look to the school climate strikers to see that – but institutional representation is incredibly important.
“That means a federal youth advisory board, that’s youth consultation, that’s having more young MPs to provide that perspective.”
“Right now, the economic recovery doesn’t have any youth representation. Young people have to be in these spaces.”
The Leadership Lessons podcast series, hosted by Kate Mills, is a set of interviews with brilliant female leaders across industries, sharing their perspective on the critical decade ahead.
Listen to the first episode with Julia Gillard here, and stay tuned for more episodes with Raji Ambikairajah, Pip Marlow, Kirstin Ferguson, and the list goes on.
The Leadership Lessons is supported by Salesforce.