Wendy Slattery is the co-founder of The Beauty Buddy. The Beauty Buddy app allows users to scan the barcode of a beauty or cosmetic product to receive ratings, reviews and directions of use in an instant. It is the first social platform dedicated to beauty and cosmetic products.
Wendy comes from the corporate world working with Eircom, where she held a number of leadership roles. Prior to The Beauty Buddy, Wendy co-owned and ran retail and e-commerce stores in the party industry for 11 years.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I believe that some people are natural born leaders. There is a quality in a natural leader that cannot be taught, a bit like the X Factor, some people just have it! However, I also believe if you work hard and are determined to be good at something you can achieve it. So, yes, I believe you can learn to be a good leader. First, you have to understand what being a good leader is all about. There are plenty of great books you can read. You need to identify what kind of a leader you are and where the gaps are, what leadership skills you have and which ones need improvement. Identify what actions you need to take and then practise. You can also learn a lot about being a good leader by observing other leader’s behaviours and by participating in mentorship programs.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
Management to me is being there to ensure targets are met and tasks are completed like planning, budgeting, organising, staffing, controlling, and problem-solving. While leadership is being able to bring a group of people together for a common goal that makes each individual feel important and believe their role is crucial to the common end goal. So they are inspired motivated and empowered. Leaders do not necessarily come with a senior title.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
We need to start the process earlier. I believe entrepreneurship is something that should be taught in our secondary schools and developed. I believe our education system needs to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in students. I believe every student should experience setting up and running a business before they leave school. Through this experience, students should learn about management and leadership.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
I have witnessed some exceptional leaders lose their connection with their teams as the companies evolve and grow. They become more managers, they need to ensure they are connecting and leading no matter the size of the company.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
I would say to them to take a deep breath and step back, prioritise, delegate, delete or defer. Look after their mental health give themselves a scheduled time in the diary every day even if it only for 15 mins to do some meditation, to go for a walk, listen to some music or read something they are passionate about. Or just have a coffee with a friend. Turn off your phone 30 mins before bed.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I have always read autobiographies of people I believe are positive leaders and role models like Cheryl Sandberg, Angela Merkel, Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks not forgetting the men Martin Luther King and Sean Swarmer. I have also participated in the New Frontiers program and the DCU Ryan Academy Female Hi-Fliers Programme which are fantastic initiatives for early start-ups. I listen to the podcast Leadership and Loyalty and Dose of leadership as I love the variety of the guests they interview.