How do I develop leadership? Olympic Gold Medallist, Katie Allen

Katie Allen is an Olympic Gold Medallist, coach and teacher. Perhaps above all, Katie has shown herself to be an incredibly effective and inspiring leader through her professional sporting career with the Hockeyroos, as coach of the Victorian Institute of Sports Women’s Hockey program and most recently in her role leading the Camberwell Men’s Premier League Hockey Team as Head Coach.


At Leaders of Evolution we’re fortunate to call Katie a friend of the business and earlier in the year were privileged to sit down with her as part of our Young Leaders in Sport e-learning course. Katie has penned our most recent blog post, analysing how she develops leadership in those she works with.

Leaders know themselves.

Developing self-awareness is an important place to start. I endeavour to help people understand their personal strengths and what they find most challenging. I ask reflective questions such as; what qualities and skills do I have to offer? What do I love doing? When am I at my best? When am I at my worst? How do I approach difficult situations?

Leaders have the courage to be themselves.

I then actively encourage people to express or employ these qualities as much as possible. It is no good having strength if you are not willing to use it to have an impact. It is therefore important to both challenge and encourage people to remain true to their authentic self regardless of the situation. I ask questions such as; what is the worst thing that could happen if you say or do something? What good could come out of speaking or acting here? What might happen if you don’t? What is holding you back? What are you worried about?

Whilst internal elements such as self-awareness and authenticity are essential to leadership, people also need to develop an appreciation and understanding for their external environment.

Leaders are adaptable and they find solutions.

Developing the capacity to assess and adapt to different situations is key. This relies on considering different perspectives and negotiating any barriers that arise. Challenge people to ask questions such as; what is happening and what are the main issues here? What are some alternatives, possibilities, solutions? Once a path or action is decided, who and what is required to make it happen? What do these people or situations need from me? What can I do here and what are my responsibilities?

Leaders empower others.

This external awareness can also bring about greater empathy and inclusion of other people. Develop individuals with the capacity to listen, value and encourage others and not only will you see them grow, but potentially you will have a much broader impact. Their experience becomes more than just about ‘me’ or ‘I’ as they start to understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves. I challenge them to reflect on questions such as; what are the strengths and qualities of those I am working with? What do I admire about them? What can I learn from them? Are we utilising their strengths? What does the situation need and who is best person to act?

Why is developing leadership important?

When you develop leadership you develop people with the self-efficacy, the drive and the skills to be lifelong learners and to achieve their goals. But even better than this, leaders provide an example of what is possible to those around them, empowering them to do the same. Leaders have a powerful and positive impact on their broader community, meaning more people do great things more often.

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Leaders of Evolution are passionate about education. We expertly design and deliver technology enhanced e-learning courses focused on leadership, social and emotional learning, career readiness and sports coaching for students, teachers, athletes, coaches and the wider community.

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Damian Hecker

Keeping an eye on all sports, especially the mighty Hawthorn Football Club, staying fit in the great outdoors and sneaking in some travel wherever possible occupy Damian's time away from designing e-learning curriculum for both Leaders of Evolution and our valued E-learning Hub Partners.

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