Former Sportsgirl CEO Colleen Callander and executive life coach Shannah Kennedy will launch a new book on December 5 called ‘Elevate - Unlock Your Extraordinary Potential’. The book covers 18 topics across life, leadership and longevity. In this exclusive extract, Kennedy and Callander discuss the three pillars for high performance leadership.

Leadership is not easy. It’s something you must be dedicated to, passionate about and practise and work on each day if you want to be best in class, elevate to new heights and be a leader who influences, inspires, and makes a positive impact.

Just as being a parent, leading a healthy life or being an athlete are lifestyle choices, so too is being a leader. There are similarities between parenting and leadership, and we have applied many of these parental learnings to our roles as leaders, as well as our everyday lives. As new parents you dive in, often not knowing what the heck you are doing, working it out as you go along. Early leadership can be just like this! When you first become a parent, you don’t get a handbook titled How to be a Great Parent and away you go. The same goes with becoming a great leader – there is no magic handbook.

No matter how prepared you think you are in the lead up to becoming a parent, it’s only when you’re in the role that you learn to really become one. We do use the word learnt because that’s what we did: we learnt every day; we learnt what to do and what not to do; we made mistakes; we cried; we laughed; we lost our confidence, and we built our confidence back up again. Our children are now in their late teens and mid-twenties, and we are still learning how to be parents every day. You evolve as a parent, just as you evolve as a leader.

Each year of parenthood throws you different challenges and, as your children grow, so do you as a parent. The challenges you have as a parent when your children are toddlers are different to when they are teenagers and different again when they become young adults, but for us the approach has always been the same: teach, guide, coach, nurture, encourage, inspire, empower, build their confidence, let them fall and pick them back up. These are the same guiding principles that we have used throughout our careers and as leaders. Our role as parents and leaders is to create environments where our children feel safe and cared for, so they can thrive and shine. Leadership is a lifestyle choice and one that you choose to be a student of every day.

Like any lifestyle choice, leadership takes practice, discipline, and consistency to excel and see great results. The more practice you put in, the more you enhance the results. As leaders, you can’t pick and choose which days you feel like giving your best. It’s about understanding what kind of leader you want to be, showing up with intention, holding yourself to an elite standard and being consistent.

Leadership is not just about being in charge. It’s about having the power to influence, inspire and make a lasting impact.


Influence is an important leadership quality because it means people will listen to and follow you. Influence typically means to affect or change someone. Great leaders do this in a positive way, helping people become better versions of themselves today than they were yesterday. Influential leaders also tend to be more trusted and effective.

  • Empower your people - Believing in someone and saying "I believe in you" can make them stronger, more confident, engaged, and innovative, inspiring them to reach their full potential, even achieving the impossible.
  • Build long-lasting trust - To create trust in relationships and workplaces, it's crucial to prioritise open communication, honesty, expertise, consistency, and positive connections.
  • Connect with emotions - In the workplace, connecting emotionally by talking, trusting, and being vulnerable with each other leads to better relationships and communication.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive - Effective leaders assertively influence others through confident, honest communication, while avoiding aggressive behaviour.
  • Lead by example - Leaders who lead by example set a positive tone by being role models, demonstrating the expected behaviours and values, and inspiring others to follow them.
  • Communicate the vision - Leaders must communicate their vision to provide a clear sense of purpose and direction and inspiring others to join them on the journey towards organisational success.
  • Give your people a voice - Creating an inclusive environment encourages people to speak up and share ideas and fosters open communication and trust, contributing to the organisation's success.
  • Teach your knowledge - Sharing your unique stories, experiences, and knowledge with others fosters growth, connection, and skill development in your organisation. creating a sense of unity.


To inspire others is to excite, encourage, generate confidence, be selfless and creative, and dare to be different. People who inspire us are people we look up to or admire, or those we would like to emulate. Richard Branson identifies the ability to inspire as the single most important skill.

  • Be the role model - A positive role model in leadership embodies values, acceptance of others, and resilience, motivating others to achieve success by example.
  • Lead with purpose - Inspiring leaders live intentionally, fostering a sense of purpose that not only gives meaning to their actions but also positively impacts and motivates those around them.
  • Lift others up - Great leaders inspire and develop future leaders by supporting and encouraging them, enabling personal and team growth, and creating a high-performing environment.
  • Create bold goals - Leading by example in setting ambitious goals inspires others to pursue their dreams fearlessly, fostering innovation, resilience, and collaboration for positive change.
  • Walk with calm confidence - Demonstrating unwavering self-belief and commitment encourages others to face challenges confidently, building their trust in their abilities and nurturing resilience.
  • Keep your word - Maintaining integrity by fulfilling promises and commitments establishes trust, credibility, and respect in leadership, while failing to do so erodes confidence.
  • Stay true to yourself - Authentic leadership involves honesty, aligning actions with beliefs, and maintaining one's identity, ensuring a sense of fulfillment and resilience.
  • Lead with kindness - Leading with kindness involves empathy, active listening, and inspiring confidence in others, supporting individual’s strengths and growth aspirations.


Impact means being someone people remember – through our actions, words, confidence, kindness, and ability to influence and inspire.

It is about using the resources available to us – regardless of our position or wealth – to
have a lasting and positive impact on ourselves and our family, friends, colleagues, organisations, and society. Leadership is not about authority; it is about the courage to be different and the willingness to lift others up and make a positive impact on those around us. Leadership affects our everyday interactions and experiences. As leaders in our own lives, everything we say and do has an impact on us and those around us.

  • Give back - When we give back, either with small gestures or generous help, we create a ripple effect of kindness and generosity that inspires others.
  • Mentor others - Being a mentor allows you to guide, support, and inspire others, making a lasting impact on their personal and leadership journey.
  • Go the extra mile - Great leaders exceed expectations, view challenges as opportunities for learning, and inspire those around them to do the same.
  • Be innovative - Inspiring leaders encourage innovation and creativity, envisioning the future and motivating others to shape future success through new approaches.
  • Lead with pure optimism - Optimism as a leadership skill creates a vision for the future that inspires determination and effort, positively influencing those around us.
  • Live a courageous life - Courage inspires others through resilience, boldness, a growth mindset, and the willingness to do what's right, even in the face of fear or adversity.
  • Be fully present - Effective leaders actively listen and appreciate others' perspectives by embracing the art of active listening, which strengthens connections.
  • Celebrate others’ wins - Embracing and celebrating others' successes demonstrates courage and fosters a positive culture of support and recognition.
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