What is Allyship? And How Can it Change Your Life for the Better? 


Effective Leadership involves a combination of having the correct support structures and having the fundamental principles in place to build and lead effective teams. It is about resilience and positive thinking and having a growth mindset.  Optimistic leadership, together with resilience, allows leaders to develop strong relationships, manage stress, lead with grit, find a purpose, and be healthy and authentic.  A critical element in this is the support structures and Allyships that you create. 

According to Forbes, allyship is: 

  • a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. 
  • not self-defined—work and efforts must be recognized by those you are seeking to ally with. 
  • an opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves, whilst building confidence in others.  

I have had the privilege in my career to have the most amazing Allyships, both male and female. These special alliances have helped me to learn and grow, to realize that I am not an island and that I need to include people in my journey.   

Here are the 7 most important building blocks to creating successful Allyships that I have learned along the way:  

1 – Communicate 

Not just any communication – honest, meaningful communication.  People are not mind readers.  You cannot sit back and assume people recognize your work, understand your thought process, or even see the goals that you are trying to achieve.  It is critical that you communicate it, explain it, and ensure that people go on the journey with you. But more importantly – if you are going through something, people may not know – you need to raise it.  Even if the conversation is tough, it must be done and not avoided. Communication must be undertaken in a constructive manner. 

2 – Listen 

Listen to the questions people ask or, more importantly, do not ask. This can give you an indication of whether people understand what you want.  It is about being in the present moment, do not judge, clarify if needed, and summarize.  It is about taking vagueness out of the system and creating alignment.  It is about opening yourself to feedback. 

3 – Educate

Do not expect everyone to understand your world and just assume they know the terminology and what is requested.  You need to educate people, so they have an appreciation for what you do.  You also need to learn and be educated by others. Do your homework in other areas.  The education process is critical in an Allyship so you can understand the other person’s world and know how to offer support and take guidance. 

4 – Trust

Trust is the most important element in Allyships. To know that people have your back and you have theirs. Appreciating and sharing a common vision and providing valuable support can only happen when trust is present. 

5 – Be self-aware

You have to learn and grow and be open to self-development.  It is not easy. Staying passionate, driven, and engaged is hard when the results do not come through. Allyships work when you are secure in who you are and what you want to achieve.  

6 – Support up and down

Allyship works both ways, you cannot only look up to other people to support you, you need to recognize that Allyship is a continual investment of time in supporting others as well. Positive actions replicate other positive reactions. 

7 – Be a sound leader

Be curious, ask questions, support others and show compassion.  It is really about following your passion and maintaining positive thinking.  These attributes create confidence and open you up to forming allyships and building trust. 

We all need to understand how we are potentially stopping ourselves from forming and growing allyships and not taking up the opportunities that exist. Mindset is critical to developing supportive associations to ultimately benefit organizations and society.   

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