Believe it. Live it! Thoughts on leadership by Yasmin Elisabeth Hussain

Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications & CSR, Yasmin Elisabeth Hussain, discusses some of the leadership topics that are currently on the top of her mind and shares some of her favourite resources about them.

Signature leadership presence

When you walk into a room, how do you want people to feel? When you meet your colleagues, team, or customers, how do you set the tone? Take a moment to think about it. The way you carry yourself, the impression you leave, it’s your signature leadership presence and it does not go unnoticed.

Every morning, I make a conscious effort before I walk into the office to take a deep breath, pull my shoulders back and to get myself ready. That single movement of shifting my shoulders back makes me feel very grounded, and it’s a simple gesture that makes you hold your head that little bit higher and tell yourself “I’m ready to take charge of the day.”

I do this because I want to play my part in setting a certain tone in the office - I want people to relate my signature presence with a sense of positivity. It’s a combination of being who I am and channelling a can-do attitude. Your presence makes a huge impact and even more so if someone is having a tough day.

At the end of the day, we all play a huge role in setting the tone, and energy really does impact others – whether it’s positive or negative. We obviously want to infect people with positivity whenever we can. Do you want to be the person who creates a sense of dread or anxiousness when you walk into a room?

How do you walk into a room? When you walk around the office, do you stare at the floor or acknowledge your colleagues along the way? How do you want people to feel when you walk into a meeting or walk into someone’s office?

Do a mini-audit of yourself or ask a few colleagues, and then figure what do you want your signature presence to be?

Here are some of the resources that I particularly enjoyed reading about this topic:


I truly believe that self-awareness, being able to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses, is really at the heart of leadership development.

If you’re more aware of your weaknesses, you know where the gaps are and what you need to work on. It’s worth taking a pause and thinking about what our blind spots are, or how we can be better colleagues or leaders. It’s something we all have to consciously reflect on and work towards.

It’s as simple as taking breath before you react to something, and trying to understand why you are processing the situation that way.

There are many tools and tests out there that you can now take to help give you credible insight about yourself or even better, being open to receiving 360 feedback from those you interact with. This can help you better understand yourself, and then you you start to connect the dots and start to have those ‘o’ or ‘aha’ moments where it all makes sense.

It’s also only by better understanding ourselves and being honest and aware of our weaknesses that we can truly benefit from the strengths of our team. This will help you better lead and motivate your team and others.

It also benefits the recruitment process in finding the best people to fill the gaps amplify your department’s strengths and bringing in that essential diversity of thought.

For me, for example, throughout the years I have come to recognise that confrontation was not one of my strengths. Becoming more aware of that forced me to try much harder to have those difficult conversations, which are essential to have in any workplace. It might still make me feel uncomfortable now, and it’s a work in progress, but I understand that tough conversations need to take place. Because if you don’t have them, you bottle your reactions inside you and one day you might just explode – and it could really damage the working relationship going forward or even your own reputation as a leader.

The better you know yourself, the more you can improve yourself and continue to learn and develop. To me, constant growth, adaptability and evolution are the foundations of true leadership.

Here are two of great articles about self-awareness:


The final topic that I’ve been thinking about, and which some people mistakenly think has no place in the workplace, is the importance of vulnerability.

I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown and was inspired to discuss vulnerability after re-watching one of her TED talks. It reminded me how crucial, but also brave, it is to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you feel. To have the hard conversations.”

Showing vulnerability can be as simple as not being afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It’s the ability to say “I have a problem with this, what do you think I can do”. It is all about allowing yourself to open up to others. Because it always helps to gain a new perspective.

You shouldn’t allow yourself to build a barrier inside you just so that you’re seen as someone who has all the answers, because the truth is no one does. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable means that someone on your team might have the answer, yet that doesn’t make you any less smart. It’s not feeling shame in a meeting if you’re not able to contribute then and there. You might be the kind of person who needs time to reflect and come back, maybe you’re not good at giving feedback on the spot.

Vulnerability is knowing that it’s okay that you’re not perfect, because no one is. It’s the ability to be yourself and believe in yourself.

I truly believe that vulnerability is really an integral part of our Winning Hearts corporate culture, especially as it relates back to two of our five values: honesty and team spirit. When we are honest about how we are feeling and act with authenticity, and when we allow ourselves to admit we need each other’s’ support, that’s what our Winning Hearts culture is all about.

Being human, being kind to ourselves and striving to constantly improve in order to serve our internal and external customers better, these are all factors that need you to allow yourself to be vulnerable at times.

I feel blessed that I work with a team that I can truly be myself with. Allowing myself to show that vulnerability, while developing my self-awareness at the same time, is truly what has made me the leader that I am today and continues to feed my passion to continue to have and develop a positive signature leadership presence, at all times.

Here’s a link to the great TED talk by Brené Brown, it’s worth the watch: