Colleen Callander, Co-Founder of Callander & Co., is a Business & Leadership Coach as well as a keynote speaker whose non-traditional leadership perspective goes beyond the obvious challenges of a female leader. Colleen, a successful leader in a primarily male-dominated field, is shattering every barrier and debunking every myth that has denied women the right to pursue leadership and career goals. True to her values, Colleen is empowering women to be bold and take the center stage. A strong believer in being a kind leader, Colleen is truly an influential leader and an inspiration to many.
In an interview with PerceptivX, Colleen Callander spoke about her leadership style, her achievements, and how she envisions the future of female leadership.
Living a life of passion and purpose
Colleen Callander: “After 30 years in fashion retail and 13 years at the helm of two iconic fashion brands, it was time for me to write the next chapter of my life – which included the introduction of my business. Callander & Co. has had success beyond what I thought possible. It has grown significantly over the past 2 years, as have its offerings across multiple business streams. My purpose has always been to impact, influence, and inspire the people around me so they can grow and thrive in all areas of their lives, including their careers, and show up as the best version of themselves each day. Today, I am doing it broader, deeper, and on a much larger scale than ever before. Whether that’s through my program, book, masterclasses, podcasts, coaching, or keynote speaking, my purpose is to inspire and empower others to lead with confidence in business and life.”
Colleen Callander: “From a very young age, I was always intrigued with the way people behaved, both good and bad. What made people treat others with kindness and respect, and what made people step over others for self-gain? What made some people create environments of fear, and others environments of collaboration? Why were some people caring and others cruel? Why were some generous and others greedy? Looking back, I now know that I was shaping myself into the leader I wanted to be through observation. I listened, I learned, I asked questions and I made mental notes of the leader I did and didn’t want to be. Throughout the early days of my career, I looked up to and admired people who had fancy titles, levels of authority, and positions of power. What I’ve learned over time is that somebody’s title or rank, level of authority, or position of power doesn’t automatically qualify them for leadership. Leadership starts with the person, not the position. In fact, you don’t even need a title to be a leader. You can be a leader in your family, your classroom, your community, your place of worship, your friendship group, your neighborhood, or your workplace. We all have the ability to be leaders in our own lives. Also, leadership starts with oneself. 70% of leadership is the way you lead yourself. How well do you know yourself, your values, and your purpose? How well you build structure and disciplines into your life, how well you set goals and boundaries, and how you maintain positivity in the face of negativity. Great leadership is one of the most competitive advantages an organization can have, and great leadership starts with you.”
Creating leaders of tomorrow
Colleen Callander: “As a Business and Leadership Coach, and Keynote Speaker, I am extremely passionate about inspiring not only this generation of leaders but also future generations and supporting organizations to recognize growth opportunities through cultural transformation, strategic direction, and brand differentiation to achieve business success.
- Mentor Me Women is the platform through which I mentor groups of women of all generations and from different walks of life. Executives, moms, start-up executives, students, young women starting in their careers, senior leaders, CEOs, and teachers. Mentor Me Women inspires and empowers women to lead with confidence in their own lives, whether that be in boardrooms, organizations, communities, or even the home. I want to change the rules, empower women to have a voice, encourage leaders to step up, challenge the status quo, and lead with kindness and authenticity. I want to give people the tools to build real confidence and believe in themselves. I want equality and diversity in all areas of our lives, and I want to see more women at the helm, more women in leadership roles when I leave this planet.
- My book, Leader By Design – Be Empowered To Lead With Confidence In Business And In Life, was published in May 2021 and has had incredible success. In my book, I share my story of finishing school at age 16 to build my career from the ground up to become one of Australia’s inspiring female CEOs. My story underpins my message that anything is possible if you are passionate, work hard, and believe in yourself. I have also shared how my upbringing shaped the woman and leader I am today and how I almost threw it all away when I hit burnout. I encourage women and leaders to live with purpose, change the rules, invest in themselves, build confidence, lead with kindness, and become leaders in their lives. It also challenges and inspires leaders and organizations to embrace a ‘new era’ of leadership. One where we lead with self-awareness, kindness, collaboration, trust, and authenticity, and one that puts people at the heart of everything we do.”
- Through my keynotes, I inspire the audience to embrace leadership as a lifestyle choice, to believe in the power of self, and to become a leader people choose to follow.
Challenges: An Opportunity in Disguise
Colleen Callander: “My biggest challenge came in 2007. I was the acting general manager of the iconic fashion brand Sportsgirl, and I became the proverbial headless chicken. To say I was ‘busy’ was an understatement. With three children—Macey was just two, Trent nine, and Jake ten—an average day was barely contained chaos. As my role evolved, so too did my busy lifestyle. It involved everything from raising small children, managing the day-to-day running of a house, and interstate travel, to having days packed with meetings, appointments, and leadership decisions. I describe myself during this period as a Formula 1 race car—one that had not refueled, gone in for a service, changed its tires, or pulled in for a pitstop in a very long time. No wonder I was feeling burnt out. I had just been going and going and going. Until I couldn’t do it any longer. I was only 36 years old, but I was utterly burnt out. I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. I had hit a wall. Any cliché you can think of, that’s how I felt. Today, through all my different platforms, I share my burnout journey and work with them on ways to get off it. We build strategies into their lives and leadership journey to avoid burnout so that they can live a life of purpose, success, joy, and fulfillment, and a life without burnout.”
Building a better tomorrow
Colleen Callander: “We have had several years of disruption and constant change globally, but also one that has allowed the great leaders to step up and challenge the status quo. The organizations that have adapted, encouraged new thinking, invested in people, and embraced collaboration have thrived. Callander & Co has gone from strength to strength across all business streams, which only tells me that there is a huge opportunity to make an impact on leadership globally. It’s time to change the leadership rules, bring equality and diversity into our leadership worlds, lead with kindness and compassion, acknowledge the power of people, and create future leaders. “