Leading as a Woman in a Man’s World – Interview with Sheryll Fisher

Categories: Blog,Bunbury #rwtrtw,Projects

Leadership is the influence to positively guide others to achieve a goal.  Good leadership is an essential part to corporate success.  

It is not necessary for women to emulate the way men lead, but they do need to step up to challenges.  

Women invariably have doubts about their readiness for extra responsibility and leadership, whereas men will jump at the opportunity, whether they have the ability and experience or not.

We interviewed Sheryll Fisher of Outlook Initiatives, who is speaking on Leading as a Woman in a Man’s World in Bunbury on 30th June.

Q:  Sheryll, share your expertise – describe what you offer to people attending on the day and why you are good at what you do?

A:  Prior to coming on board with Outback Initiatives, my experience with leadership was one way and very limited.  I was subjected to poor to bad leadership to even non-existent leadership from upper management.  I was never a leader myself, usually operating autonomously. I would describe my style as direct, to the point and brutally honest – which I though was a great way to operate. Until I went on an Outback Initiatives program prior to committing to joining the company.  The feedback I received from that 7 day program was life changing.  I had never been given feedback in such a positive, supportive manner – don’t get me wrong – the feedback wasn’t soft and fluffy – I was told I was too direct, too honest, too tactless.  I was also told that I was most likely to do the right thing, act with integrity and have the guts to make hard decisions and stick with them.  This was a revelation for me. 

In the field and by that I mean in the remote regions we work in, we work in a team of up to 15 at a time with up to 40 participants in difficult and stressful conditions – heat, rain, cold, horrible conditions to trek, abseil, cave, kayak and live in.  People are pushed to their limits, especially the staff.  I am responsible for the overall safety of the participants and staff in taxing conditions for up to 12 days at a time with limited sleep.  I deal with crocodiles, quicksand, bushfires, snakes, kangaroos and one time, dysentery.  You really know yourself when you’re pushed to your limits, and the bad behaviours come out (which is the purpose of experiential leadership training).  It’s only then when they’ve been acknowledged that they can be dealt with.

Over the years I have worked on improving my directness and tried to soften the delivery of my messages – it’s a constant battle, but I’m doing my best and recent feedback (we get feedback on every program) is that I lead collaboratively, compassionately but am decisive and direct when required.

I have directed over 30 programs for the Singapore police and prisons departments and worked with some amazing rural and regional leaders to increase their effectiveness.  I’ve seen all types of leadership – good, bad, indifferent.  My own is improving, one program at a time.

Q:   How will you be able to help women – what skills will they learn from you?

A:  I know what it’s like to lead in a man’s world. I have worked in male dominated environments my whole working life and lived in army camps until the age of 18. It’s a man’s world.  What I’ve also seen is women trying to lead like men. That does not work and ends up ruining relationships at all levels and certainly given women a bad reputation as leaders. There IS a way to lead like a woman – using your natural abilities to collaborate makes us very powerful. We just need to be comfortable in the environment at work to do it.  Leadership is not a man in a suit or a uniform.

Q:   Share a personal story – how have your skills helped someone in your professional career?

A:  I developed the 3 day women’s leadership program because I saw how many women were crying out for PRACTICAL tools to help themselves and their teams reach desired goals.  Women are traditionally ridiculously time poor, put themselves last in the pecking order of things, and are less likely to invest in themselves (for training) than men. We’ll never be able to compete if we continue to do this. So my 3 day program, as difficult as it was to convince women it’s not survivor or boot camp, has assisted over 75 women to become more self-aware, more confident, more aware of the impact they have on others and what they can do to be more effective in their relationships – be it at home, their friendship circle, or work.  It’s a joy to watch it unfold.

Q:   What are your Top 5 Tips and what led you to share them?

A:  I see women desperate for tools that are adapted to them, not male-oriented, ladder climbing, empire-building leadership tools. 

I also see women flocking to 3 day ‘leadership’ panel events in which they sit around and listen to others talking about leadership and I also see them coming out of these events knowing that others have succeeded but not having gained any practical tools that can help them.  

Leadership is not what you think it is, it’s not that easy but it’s a skill that CAN BE LEARNED.  And introverts take note, you can lead VERY EFFECTIVELY – you just need a few skills.

Top 5 tips:

  1. Leadership is not a dirty world
  2. Be yourself – do not MAN up!!!
  3. Find a style that works for you 
  4. Know what pushes your buttons – strategize to minimise risk
  5. Conflict is not a bad thing

Q:  Sheryll, what inspires you and why do you want to be involved in this event?

A:  The people who go through our programs inspire me – 25-65 year old people doing things they’ve never done before, challenging themselves, overcoming fears and anxieties, being self-aware and that ‘ah-hah!’ moment is really inspiring.  I love being part of a process which improves people’s lives.  I love my team who are all outstanding individuals and inspire me with their dedication to the process and the client’s success in difficult circumstances. 

Possibility inspires me, that is why I’m involved in this event.

  • An interview with Sheryll Fisher (Written by Alexia Brbich)
  • Outback Initiatives.  http://outbackin.com.au
  • Speaker at our project: Re-energising Women to Re-enter the Workforce
  • Presentation Topic:  Leading as a Woman in a Man’s World
  • Event:  30 June 2016 @ Bunbury CCI, 15 Stirling Street, Bunbury, Western Australia

Want to learn more?

Register your interest to attend our event on 17 Feb 2016: Re Energising Women To Re-Enter The Workforce


    Check out our full list of speakers for this event




    facebook event cover - 30 JUNE - _rwtrtw


    Author: Phoebe Wong