What Michelle Williams is teaching leaders about value 


Last week, The Emmy Awards went off with the usual levels of red carpet fashion, well-deserved wins and inspiring speeches. One of those speeches was delivered by Michelle Williams, who kept it short, to the point and managed to deliver a punch to the gut to most of the world. While speaking up for women in the workplace – particularly women of colour who experience a particular disadvantage – Williams also taught us a lesson or two about what it looks like to work in a healthy workplace with good leaders. 

Great leaders create safe environments 

“I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them and respected enough that they’ll be heard.” 

Safe environments are paramount — if your team doesn’t feel safe and supported, they’re unlikely to bring up the fact that there’s no milk left in the fridge, let alone fighting for their employee rights. Every team faces different issues but unless there is a safe work environment, those issues will go on festering, unresolved and wearing down your team. 

To create safe environments:

  • Have equal and open discussions where ideas, questions and concerns can all be put on the table with no judgement and will be treated with respect.
  • Keep the lines of communication open so that your team knows they can raise anything that might be on their mind — your door doesn’t always need to be literally open but having a policy of open communication and consistently providing opportunities for that communication to take place is crucial. 
  • Treat different issues differently — make sure your team knows exactly who they need to speak to for each issue so it can be dealt with appropriately, quickly and adequately. 

Great leaders trust their team 

“My bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job.” 

Without trust, you may as well pack it all in and call it a day. Trust is what makes every single facet of a team environment work and, just as much as teams need to trust their leaders, leaders also need to trust their team. 

The fact is that your team is on Ground Zero most of the time — they know what’s needed to get the job done to the best standard, whether it’s better stationery, a first-aid course or more staff, they more often than not have their finger on the pulse. So, when they ask for something or tell you about something that’s going on, you need to believe them because they do actually know what they’re talking about.

Great leaders value their team 

“I want to say thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value and then where do they put that value? They put it into their work.” 

It’s hard to argue with that. If you aren’t valuing your team, your team won’t value themselves. Either they’ll leave your organisation to find somewhere else that will value them or, worse for you, they’ll stick around and put no effort into their work — because after all, if they’re worth nothing to you, why should they even bother? 

Michelle Williams’ speech is one amazing message advocating for equality in the workplace  — to have a truly great workplace means that trust, security and value should all be present, all the time, for everyone. 

Inspired by Michelle William’s speech to continue fostering an equal team environment? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.