This is Allens

Celebrating International Women's Day: our people share how they are choosing to challenge the status quo to create a more inclusive world.

Felicity Rourke

Felicity is a Partner in our Environment and Planning team. She's dedicated to creating a culture where her team feel nurtured and can thrive.


For me, being a leader is about letting others have their moment in the sun and, to do that well, you need to really know people. And I don’t just mean know what their skills, experience and areas for development are. You need to know the whole person. Leadership is not about me - it's about tuning in to other people's aspirations and creating an environment where they're nurtured and can thrive.

While I've had some great mentors and leaders across my career, the territory that was acceptable to explore in professional relationships in years gone by was narrower and probably more formal than is the case now. In general, there wasn't so much emphasis on strong personal connections or seeing your colleagues as whole people – the way many leaders see their people today. I think that shift is a wonderful thing.

Today we're checking in on people's mental health and sense of connectedness. When somebody is having a weird patch at work, the first thing we think about is what else might be going on for them outside of work. My job as a leader doesn't stop when someone goes home at the end of the day – understanding the whole picture is all part of tapping in to what people need to feel engaged, challenged and fulfilled at work – but also to feel content in a more holistic sense, which people need if they're to stick around.

For me, success as a leader is cultivating an environment in my team where people feel comfortable to share what's going on for them, to raise a concern or navigate a personal challenge together, and where they know they won't be judged or penalised for it. You can't create an environment like that without being open about your own challenges and mistakes. I am very deliberate about that – about exploring questions together, not having all the answers and creating space for people to say, 'I'm not sure – let me think about that and come back to you.'

Authentic leadership means people know what they're getting. They know that what I expect of myself, I expect of them, and there's no double standard between the things that I say are important, and the way I conduct myself.

Opportunity – for women and men – comes from being comfortable in your own skin. For me, that means being open about all the things in my life that make me who I am and seeing them not as a vulnerability but as an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper, more human level.

The more connected, honest and authentic leaders become, the better we'll be at finding ways for people to be successful, whoever they are.