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Rebecca Newton is a business psychologist and expert in leadership, specialising in leadership education. She lectures at the London School of Economics and Political Science – where she is a visiting fellow and she is part of the faculty team for Duke Corporate Education. She also runs her own consulting practice, Newton Taylor.
Before moving to the UK, Ms Newton was a visiting fellow at Harvard University and worked as an associate at different consulting organisations. She grew up in Sydney, Australia and still enjoys being by the sea as much as possible.
1. When did you know you wanted to teach?
I love the practical side of helping leaders develop and had no intention of teaching. Then I was asked to teach some students on how to apply leadership principles in the ‘real world.’ I found the students’ interest and energy for learning so inspiring. From that moment on I was hooked.
2. What is an average day at work like?
Without a doubt there’s no ‘average’ day! On any day I could be lecturing masters students in leadership at the LSE, running a corporate education programme with finance professionals from India or doing executive coaching with a corporate leader in London. Those things don’t tend to happen all in one week (thankfully) but there’s certainly never a dull moment.
3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s a great feeling when people have an ‘a-ha’ moment – when someone realises what’s been holding them back, when they see what they can change to move forward to achieve what they’re trying to achieve. But it’s even better when they actually make those changes and people around them give them positive feedback about how much they’ve developed.
4. Who are your business heroes?
I think Warren Bennis, the American scholar is amazing – I find his belief in the difference strong leadership can make in the world really inspiring. My other ‘hero’ is Richard Hackman - I had the privilege of working with him while I was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. He has made such a significant contribution to our field and yet personally is the ‘real deal’ - inspiring, generous and challenging in a good way.
5. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
One of my teachers quoted William Faulkner to me once and I’ll never forget it: “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
6. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
To actively seek out constructive feedback from people whose opinion I respect and value and to ignore the odd person whose blanket statement line seems to be ‘you can’t do it/it can’t be done.’
7. What advice would you give to women in business?
Pursue big dreams instead of small realities and design a life you love! A woman I really admire once said: “You can have the package” –a full, healthy life with great family, friends, interests and a career that you genuinely love is possible. Obviously, what each of our ideal ‘package’ looks like is different but we don’t have to sacrifice one thing for another. It certainly can be a crazy juggling act but it’s definitely worth it.
8. What is your favourite business book?
My favourite business book at the moment is Your Brain at Work by David Rock. How to maximise our brain effectiveness for work performance is one of my favourite topics and is second only to increasing influence when it comes to areas of interest for my coaching clients. There are incredible developments in the field of neuroscience that can help us when it comes to being the best we can be at work and in our leadership effectiveness.
9. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I’d spend less time worrying about how things will work out and enjoy what is working out.
10. What are your future plans?
To find new ways to help leaders move forward, to continue bridging the divide between theory and practice when it comes to leadership development and to keep enjoying the journey.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke