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Takeaway messages from the Aurora Core Leadership Skills day

16 Jan 2020 | Jenny Garrett Jenny Garrett offers some ‘takeaway’ points from the Aurora Core Leadership Skills Day in London. The day introduced the key skills needed by all leaders and managers and considered whether there are any ‘gendered’ ways of leading.

New Aurora facilitator Suzanne O’Brien led a panel on core leadership skills including Yetunde Hofmann, MD of Synchrony Development Consulting, Penny Eccles, HE marketing strategist and widening participation advocate and Dr. Lynette Turner, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University.

The session was open, diverse, enlightening and engaging. Here are some highlights:

Penny shared with us her journey to own her power. A health scare led her to take responsibility and be more courageous in all aspects of her life. This has led her to be a person who has courageous and honest conversations with people for their own benefit, and they thank her.

She said that we think that fear of failure is what holds us back, but it’s often fear of blame, and unfortunately as a result, we blame others.

Penny’s top tips are:

  1. Even when you decide to be courageous don't expect everything to change overnight.
  2. Know what your values are and stay aligned with them.
  3. You only grow if you do ‘differently’
  4. And lastly…remember your ideas are important!!!


Yetunde illustrated challenging and difficult lessons in her career as an HR professional in the corporate world. Leaving Nigeria and coming to England for her education, she learnt:

  1. To have an open mind, and not be stuck in your assumptions.
  2. That universally we all want to fit in and belong, and it’s up to organisations to enable us to be ourselves.
  3. To identify what you are good at and combine that with what you enjoy. This leads to you fulfilling purpose. 

She ended with the message that love is the most critical leadership capability.

Lastly, Lynette cantered through her career journey and described the trails and tribulations of being a woman leader. Lynette had experiences of people not accepting her as their leader, objecting to her being recruited into roles and being given interim rather than permanent senior roles.

She found that she needed to work in institutions that aligned with her values, and when she did her relationships blossomed and she felt welcomed.

During her career, she is regularly tasked to step up as an interim when there is a crisis to problem solve. She has learnt to accept this as part of her journey, even if that isn’t what she had planned for her career.

Lynette ended by sharing an example of not being recognised as a leader, because of the package that she comes in and she challenged us ask yourself what leaders look like.

Here are some final words from all of the speakers on what they wish you would know at the beginning at the beginning of your leadership journey:

Know your worth!"

Penny Eccles

It’s OK to be perceived as scary."

Yetunde Hofmann

Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes."

Lynette Turner

Jenny Garrett is a coach, author, blogger and a key Advance HE associate. Jenny is passionate about helping trailblazing women navigate work and life.

Aurora is Advance HE`s leadership development initiative for women and those who identify as a woman. Aurora runs in a number of locations across the UK and Ireland and consists of six interlinked days. To find a cohort search "Aurora" in our calendar.


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