Built To Give Back

Follow me please: the trials and triumphs of leading a team as a young woman

Leading a diverse team is hard. Especially as a female. And especially as a young female, with three co-founders my senior ranging from four years to 30 plus. Oh and they’re all males.

Balancing egos is much harder than balancing statements of financial position. There is no LDER101. It’s an intrinsic thing, it’s a progressive thing and it is the result of trial and error. My leadership of Banqer has already been littered with mistakes. I’ve offended, I’ve overworked, and I’ve most probably overwhelmed.

It’s hard. It’s really, really hard.

I spend so much of my time just thinking about my team, what we’re all doing, the different ways in which we contribute and how to keep the momentum.

Banqer was my idea, and I’m asking people who a few months ago were complete strangers to work up to 30 hours a week on this idea for free. All in the hope that we will achieve our vision of being in schools all around the world.

But I’m getting better at it.

Transparency around workload is a big part of it. I want to show my team that I’m working, and I want to make sure they know just how much everyone on the team is contributing. Tools like Trello, Slack and having weekly Hangout stand-ups help with this. This helps keep people motivated, and connected.

Celebrating successes is another. Sometimes a molehill needs to feel like a mountain. I have been known to use excessive emoji force when we have some good news. Or when someone finishes a task that they have been working tirelessly on for a week on top of their day job, we take the time to thank them and appreciate what they have done. I’ve also started handing out Banqer Bans. When someone has been working too hard on Banqer for too long they’ll get a ban lasting anywhere from a day to a week. This is to avoid burnout, but also so the team doesn’t lose interest early on, so they want to get back into it after the ban.

Take a personal interest. Not everything has to be business all the time. I was probably a bit big on this at the start in my haste and excitement. Now I end every hangout or meeting I have with a team member by checking in on a personal level. It seems contrived that I intentionally would do something like this, but I had started to associate my co-founders with work and therefore was compartmentalising conversation accordingly. But I do want to know about people's days, and their families. Because when we talk like that I understand their motivations, other things that they have going on in their lives and what they’re worried about. This all plugs back into Banqer in some form or another.

The most important thing for me though is self-assurance. Knowing that what I am doing is enough for Banqer and for the team is crucial. And right now, I believe this is the case.