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Great Female Leadership – Angela Ahrendts

Good news, Britain’s highest paid executive is a woman. And not a hard-ass careerist with no life. In fact she has just been going a little viral with this Tedtalk about human energy and the importance of corporations to embrace ‘feelings’.Angela Ahrendts has been CEO of Burberry since 2006 and has been largely credited with the turnaround of this iconic fashion label Despite the global economic meltdown – which began shortly after she became boss in July 2006 – the share price has trebled under her stewardship. Not that she will take this credit, preferring to credit her team.There is a whole lot of things about this woman I like:Firstly she has made history by topping the CEO earnings chart, no mean feat for a woman, not that she is necessary pushing a gender agenda. In fact she is strongly opposing boardroom quotas based on gender, clearly stating her belief that it is performance that counts regardless of gender (I’ve always agreed with this, despite this being a little controversial. The issue is getting women to put their hand up for leadership in the first place – refer to previous blog post on Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In).

Secondly she puts her money where her mouth is, giving 10 percent of her salary to the Burberry Foundation, (how many other CEOS do you know of that openly backs the company sponsorshp strategy to that extent).

Then in what seems like a fickle world of fashion, one day your hot but the next not, a world where it’s uncool to be conservative, Ahrendts is a committed Christian, married to her childhood sweeheart and manages a good relationship with 3 grown children. In other words, she has her values and she sticks to them.

So I thought we all needed to get to know her a little more and thus I am posting her TedTalk in which she espouses her theory on the importance of Human Energy which is at the heart of the culture she fosters at Burberry and comes from a deep core of shared values.

I was interested in how refreshing it was to hear a CEO use words like passion, energy, freedom and peace, belief and intuition. And how fabulous it is to see a female leader not default to acting like a man in a frock. If follows that she doesn’t draw reference to great business leaders of our time but instead opts to quote American poet Maya Angelou, who wrote:

“People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget the way you made them feel”.

I love that.

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