Less Pitbull, More Pug!


I found a really interesting article today about women leaders who felt like they have to adopt masculine characteristics in order to be considered successful. It got me thinking about myself and my own leadership journey. 

I've never been what I would consider a girly girl. As a teenager I chose chavtastic tracksuits and trainers, as an adult I didn't own a dress until about 3 years ago. Wedding dress shopping was horrendous! 

The most influential people in my life have been tough women or men. I've always preferred male company and I can see now this was part of my suit of amour, my projection of myself, the inauthentic me as a way of protecting myself. 

As a leader the person I admired most was a very strong male. He taught me to be tenacious, resilient, to not cry when things went wrong but to get the job done. So for years I pulled up my big Bridget jones pants, chucked my hair back in a Trunchbull bun, kept my face make up free and I was resilient and tenacious and felt proud (I now cringe) when I overheard a colleague describe me as a pit bull to a new member of staff. I did these things because I didn't think showing my vulnerability would help me progress in my career. 

After some great coaching and mentoring from some absolutely inspiring leaders (shout out to Hannah W for this one) and being introduced to a community of inspiring and truly authentic female leaders, it dawned on me that it was ok to be me. It was ok to lead in a way that I could share my personal experiences, I could wear a dress and a bit of lippy and people would still respect me. I could talk freely about how my 4 years of sleep deprivation from my little man makes me so tired sometimes I can hardly function yet I still turn up and I show up with the best A game I have. I realised it was ok to show my team when I'm sad and I found in doing that I was able to be honest, less aggressive and actually explain by disappointments in a far more articulate way. I realised my colleagues wouldn't think I was weak when I got a bit "emosh" on them they actually respected me more. 

I am tenacious and resilient and brutally honest but I am also real. I feel things deeply. I get sad, I get angry, I laugh ALOT. These are the qualities that make me the leader I am, the wife I am, the mummy I am, the friend I am. It's ok to lead my way and I've grown to realise that people follow people not machines. I'd say I'm less "aggressive and unapproachable pitbull" more "slightly yappy but more approachable pug" these days. I do it my way as the woman I am. 

Author Profile

Amy Anderson

Amy Anderson

Assistant Principal T&L, CPD, ITE and Teaching School Lead

17 stories


Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 7 months ago
Love this post as much as I love you! Say hi to my Canadian buddies & new #womened bloggers @alisonlidd & @lisahan - both found their voice & are prepared to use it x
Amy Anderson Amy Anderson @mrsanderson1982 7 months ago
Following both your Canadian buddies on here and look forward to reading their blogs!! Love you lovely lady!!!
Lisa Hannay Lisa Hannay @lisahan 7 months ago
Wow! I love this! Fully human, and all the things that go along with that, add aspiration for leadership and we have firecrackers! Bright lights in the night sky showing the way!
Alison Liddicoat Alison Liddicoat @alisonlidd 7 months ago
Very reminiscent of my own experience! It takes courage to be a vulnerable and authentic leader, thanks for sharing.
Fiona McSorley Fiona McSorley @fifi 7 months ago
Such a powerful message to be who you really are and not some version expected. We are the sum of all parts of our lives, mother, daughter, sister and teacher. We adapt to different situations but must remember not to use that 'teacher voice' at home! Well done for an interesting and honest blog. PS you don't look like Miss Trunchbull...
Victoria O'Farrell Victoria O'Farrell @vjofarrell 7 months ago
What a great blog about authenticity. All to often leaders think they have to adopt a persona and wear tough armour to prove they can do the job. In reality, when we face stressful times as a leader, it's our true self that comes out- I'm often a blubbering mess at home reaching for a glass of wine after a tough day. It's important that we show our true self, and that it's ok to show that we are struggling but then it's important to show that we get over it. Thanks for this blog- very thought provoking!
Anoara Mughal Anoara Mughal @ano 7 months ago
A wonderful blog that I can totally relate to. Thank you. Learnt the same lesson through #womened ! What a amazing tribe to be part of!
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