Talking courage with a Telstra Business Women’s Award Finalist 2020

~4 minute read.

Belinda Dimovksi

Belinda Dimovski has been leading business transformations centred around the customer for over 15 years across telecommunications, pharma, health and not for profit organisations. 

She is currently the Director of Engagement and Support at Australian Red Cross, responsible for marketing and communications, along with digital, media and PR as well as customer experience. Her remit extends to fundraising and partnerships, retail and also First Aid. 

Belinda is a 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards NSW state finalist in the ‘for purpose and social enterprise’ category.

Join us as Belinda shares her thoughts, feelings and stories of courage.

How would you describe workplace courage?

When I consider the word courage (and not google a technical definition), I think of doing the right thing no matter how unpopular that may be; I think of hiring people that are smarter than you; I think of stepping back and allowing others to excel; I think of knowing when you’re not adding any more value and therefore you allow others to take the lead. I think of encouraging, engaging and supporting your organisation to think differently, do things differently and consider how to be better every day. Ultimately workplace courage for me, is to show vulnerability, speak up and voice your opinion in order to have a conversation about different approaches, and openly say ‘I don’t agree with that,’ when I don’t, and alternatively, ‘I love that idea,’ when I do.

Things that guide me personally:

  • You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room
  • Sometimes getting things done well is more important than getting something 100% right
  • It’s ok not to have the answer
  • You cannot do it alone
  • Have positive intent everyday

BD cape

What does courage look like in your workplace?

Courage in my workplace is:

  • Encouraging diverse thinking – when we’re solving problems, we consider all possible scenarios and alternatives to determine the approach we should take
  • Trusting in subject matter experts to come up with a solution without questioning
  • Listening to the customer
  • When going through change, the clear acknowledgement that we will trip, fall over, but most importantly pick ourselves up and learn from it
  • Open feedback
  • Making unpopular decisions
  • Listening to insights even if they make us feel uncomfortable

… and openly say ‘I don’t agree with that,’ when I don’t, and alternatively, ‘I love that idea,’ when I do.

Please describe 1-2 examples in which you have been courageous.  What did you do?  Who/what enabled you to be courageous?  What was the outcome?  

Joining the NFP sector, coming from corporate is pretty courageous. 🙂 I felt like an imposter at first and immediately demonstrated openness with the executive team, expressing strengths, gaps and a willingness to learn. With my team, I expressed that they had all the necessary answers and solutions, and that my job is to get those answers and  solutions out of their heads. With both the executive and my team, this opened up a different dialogue and quickly established connections.

Additionally, the way my team had been managed previously is not the way I lead teams. I believe in feedback, have an open door policy, encourage people to voice their opinions and hold them accountable for the quality of work being delivered. I understood that change was necessary but I also recognised that I had to earn my stripes – so that’s what I did.  I spent time with the team, I ran workshops, used GROW Coaching, covered off difficult conversation techniques and encouraged open learning on leadership models for everyone. I demonstrated that I didn’t know it all, that I was continually learning and that they could take this opportunity to learn with me.

About 6 months into my role, I asked for feedback from my team about a meeting – it was all positive, but I wasn’t looking for that. I rephrased my question and asked instead, ‘What’s the one thing I could have done better?’ As the team started feeling comfortable giving me feedback, we created a culture of feedback and used it to improve leadership for the whole organisation. Ultimately, I enabled myself to be courageous in this situation and supported the team to do the same. I continue to get things wrong – I am clear I don’t know it all, my team have all seen me cry, they have seen me frustrated and they have seen me calm as a cucumber. Expressing emotions with my team has enabled them to do the same.

BD leadership

Another example includes my work in a previous organisation where the executive team sat through a project roadmap presentation that didn’t quite meet the brief. One of the directors provided positive feedback without interrogating the presentation due to time limitations. The concerns I had voiced prior to the presentation and had asked the team to keep in mind, were unfortunately missed. I called him that afternoon and explained how I felt. I talked through how the positive feedback to the presenter left me disillusioned with the process and that I expected a robust review not a rubber stamp approach. He explained that he was not prepared for the meeting and he had been side-tracked with other issues, which I completely understood, and we agreed to send some follow up questions for clarity. He committed that if he was unable to put full focus on the meeting moving forward, he would instead ask for it to be rescheduled.

I learned he appreciated honest feedback and I understood that I needed to ensure I voiced my concerns, even if was about his approach.  As a result, we were more open with each other in a project in which we were both key stakeholders.

I tend to bring up the need for difficult conversations as soon as needed. I’ve done this so often that it’s part of my DNA now. I encourage my team, and my daughter, to do the same.BD Heart

From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?

I think there are definitely some Australian leaders leading with courage. I think they show vulnerability; they look to subject experts to find the answers; and they hold themselves accountable for outcomes. I also think Australians have a highly acute ‘bullshit’ radar – so no matter what field you’re in, leading with courage means you are practical, honest and open – with yourself and others.

I have seen both Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop speak about their time in parliament and I am mesmerised by their stories, how they would have had continual courageous conversations and lead with determination.

I fan girl over Jacinda Ardern and Michelle Obama like many of us and I am in awe of the tireless courage shown by our indigenous communities. I am right now on Gadigal Country, the traditional lands of the Eora nation and I believe speaking your truth, even if it is at odds with others, is one of the most courageous things Elders, past, present and future have contributed and continue to contribute to Australia.

I tend to bring up the need for difficult conversations as soon as needed. I’ve done this so often that it’s part of my DNA now. I encourage my team, and my daughter, to do the same.


I “met” Belinda when she was a keynote speaker at a virtual event held by The NonProfit Alliance where she spoke about leadership, trust and authenticity in a crisis.  Her courage was evident and it was at that point that I knew I wanted to learn more of her courageous stories and to share these with you; as we know #courageiscontagious. 

Belinda, thank you for agreeing to be a part of our courage-building community,

@CourageChick

DTL-Seal-Certified-Facilitator-silver


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