BE true to your values was the message from the Women in Horticulture conference, held at Federation University, Churchill in Victoria, last month.
Authenticity was critical when practising leadership, according to keynote speaker, Maree McPherson.
“Understanding who you are and what you want to do; understanding how other people see us,” was important to your role as a leader,” she said.
“You need to ask yourself, do others see me as authentic? Are your values apparent? Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.”
A good leader was also interested in finding out about the people in her community and what their differences and similarities were, Ms McPherson said.
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Being a media darling was tackled by other keynote speaker, Emma Germano, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Horticulture committee, managing director of I Love Farms and 2014 Nuffield scholar.
With her family and other people’s encouragement, Ms Germano stepped into advocacy roles in the Melbourne wholesale market on behalf of the family vegetable growing business.
On her Nuffield tour, that experience enabled her to explore export opportunities and collaborative models to sell vegetables.
“Being an advocate means having a community of people around you who support you and who help you when you have doubts,” she said.
“If you’re the only woman in the room and you’re bold and comfortable with stepping out and taking opportunities, there is no challenge in being invited to participate.
“The challenge is unconscious bias.
“So you risk dumbing yourself down and not being true to your values.”
Ms Germano said assessing all the reasons why you should be included was a significant step towards changing the assumed scenario.
Inclusion meant making structural changes to enable diversity to occur as well as simple things like sharing the spokesperson role.
“When you’ve become a favourite of the media, it can become an ego driver,” Ms Germano said.
“Emotional intelligence is about sharing the opportunities for being a spokesperson.”