For Kathy Nashaat, effective leadership means approaching challenges holistically and striving always to be ethical, innovative and forward thinking. That’s why the former aviation consultant completed a Chartered Management accreditation through the Institute of Managers and Leaders- reinforcing the values she’d always believed in.
What makes you an effective leader? How do you test your skills and advance through a workplace? And how do you know when you’re ready to take the next step in your career?
These are questions many of us grapple with, but for Kathy Nashaat, management consultant and Chartered Manager, they have been fundamental to developing her into the leader she is today.
Kathy Nashaat didn’t have the sort of introduction to her career that automatically set her up for success. As a junior analyst for an aviation company that was new to Australia, she began her professional life in a start-up environment that wasn’t conducive to her own development and progression.
And yet, through tenacity and initiative, she pursued opportunities to thrive.
“My first job involved data analytics, assessing information to demonstrate our operational efficiency as a supplier,” Kathy explains. “As it turned out, I was really good at developing patterns and independent thinking from looking at the data, so I stood up to a more senior role, being responsible for the integrity of that data, and influential in changing the company’s activities to manage it.”
“And then I had a third development wave when I saw that our data was great, but it could be even better if we could present to clients the performance metrics to support it.”
Each of these self-led development waves further reinforced to Kathy what was missing in her workplace – she wanted strong leadership that could nurture and mentor her to expand her skills and experience. Instead, she found herself reaching new development ceilings within the organisation, and having to problem-solve her way through them herself.
Eventually, she decided that the best thing she could do for her career was to strike out on her own.
“I realised I could do more than the limited opportunities presented by the company. So I went out on my own,” Kathy says. “I did that for about a year, because I eventually wanted some stability, and I’ve just started a new role as a Resourcing Manager. In that gap year, I worked with a couple of start-up companies nurturing their brand and marketing initiative to map out what their companies needed to look like from a service perspective.”
By this point, Kathy knew her abilities extended to strong management and leadership skills, and this was being recognised by her clients. But she needed to formalise her expertise to be competitive, and to further reassure potential clients that she was qualified for the job.
She applied to become a Chartered Manager through the Institute of Managers and Leaders, an accreditation program. Becoming a Chartered Manager is a detailed process that includes an assessment of the applicant’s experience and qualifications, as well as a reflective exercise and interview.
For Kathy, it was incredibly valuable in further reinforcing the values that underpin her leadership style.
“What I like about the Chartered Manager approach is it talks about being an ethical and innovative in becoming a front-of-mind manager,” she says. “So you’re not just qualified to be able to do something, you’re actually applying yourself to be a world-class leader.”
That means more than applying your skills to your specific work role, but also mentoring and supporting the professional journeys of your staff and colleagues. In Kathy’s case, this is particularly important when it comes to employees who may not feel supported to excel within their organisations.
“I’m very passionate finding solutions for disempowered workforces. That was the love of my previous role and in my new role I have the opportunity to match skilled talent to strategic objectives. Empowering workforces to realise their worth and make an impact continues to be a passion of mine, to which I endeavor to facilitate in my new employment capacity.”
And the advice she would give to young women who are entering the workforce now?
“When you receive criticism or feedback in the workplace, it’s important to think about the position that someone is expressing this criticism from. Review it holistically and strategically – remove the person from it,” she says. “The way you receive such feedback, and more importantly what you do with it can propel you onto either a destructive or constructive development path, therefore criticism will steer you in the direction you enable it to depending on how you interpret it. You can only control your response to situations – so control what you can control.”