What leadership means to me | Polly Harrar

Here’s the latest in our PRECIOUS Success leadership series. We’re asking a range of entrepreneurs, business owners, experts, and innovators from a range of industries: ‘What Does Leadership Mean to You?’ Polly Harrar, founder of The SHARAN Project replies.


Polly Harrar
Polly Harrar

Leadership should not be taken lightly or used for self-gain.

For some, leadership comes easily, but for me,  I had to learn how to become a leader.

Having spent most of my working career within the corporate sector and mostly in supporting roles,  I always strived to be the best that I could be. Yet it was only when I started my charity The SHARAN Project that I realised how vital these skills and resources would be.

It’s not about having power, telling others what to do or being self-serving or led by ego, it’s about sharing your experiences and skills, learning from and supporting others to achieve their goals and being prepared to go the extra mile. The notion that as a woman you have to be a b*tch to get ahead, is just not true.

Starting a charity is not easy and is not an option many take up. Taking an idea and making it happen for the benefit of others  is a huge test of character. My motivations were very much based on saving just one life and ensuring that women felt they could have a voice. That was almost eight years ago and I am humbled that we have managed to help so many women to rebuild their lives.

None of this would be possible without the support and commitment from my incredible team of Trustees and Volunteers. I very quickly realised that by surrounding myself with a highly skilled support network, we could achieve so much more together. I would also highly recommend getting a mentor, this is a great way to get support and self-assess your own achievements and goals, after all, if you neglect to look after yourself, how can you support others?

But in having a team comes the responsibility to provide direction and focus through your leadership. This is where your actions speak louder than your words. You have to manage multiple relationships and understand the drivers, objectives and ambitions not only of your organisation but the individuals who help to make it happen. In doing so, you become a better person and a better leader.

Being grateful is also key attribute to have, in the work that we do, we hear some of the most horrifying stories of abuse and neglect and I am grateful to be in a position to make a difference. Being grateful does not make you weak, it makes you appreciate all that you have and how to use that more effectively.

For me, the best measures of successful leadership are in the stories that unfold through your actions. This can be anything from supporting a volunteer to develop their skills who then go on to full-time employment to hearing from a client that they now have the confidence and skills to look to the future. It’s about what you give not what you get.

I am still learning to be a leader. I do not think you wake up one day and have all theanswers, it not just about how you present yourself on the outside, it is an ever evolving process that you go through and when others look to you, you have a responsibility to listen, take them with you and inspire them towards becoming leaders too.


Connect with Polly and The Sharan project via @Sharan_Project | And on Facebook

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