Q&A: Avon & Somerset Police’s first female Chief Constable on women’s leadership

Bristol Women’s Commission’s panel for International Women’s Day 2023 celebrations at city hall explored women’s leadership featuring a range of local leaders, including the first ever female Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Police – Sarah Crew. Here she shares some of her views on women’s leadership.

How did you get to where you are today?

I have worked with some great people who have inspired me and supported me and from whom I have learned many lessons. I have been given opportunities and I have seized them (even when they didn’t feel like opportunities). I have backed my strengths and instincts (rather than focusing too much on my weaknesses or what my head says). I have worked hard when I have needed to, and I have had a great deal of luck.

What do you think makes a good leader?

I am still a work in progress as a leader. I think I am good at seeing strengths in the people around me, and I am very happy for them to take centre stage and to help them develop. I am much more interested in Team Leadership than individual leadership. I know myself well and I don’t try to be someone I am not. I don’t dwell on mistakes or bad outcomes; I always find the positives and focus on the mission and doing better next time.

What’s been your biggest challenges as a woman?

Balancing caring responsibilities with a big job.

What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders?

Know yourself, back your strengths, listen to your instinct, be resilient and be empathetic and kind in all you do.

What women leaders inspire you, and why?

Dolly Parton. She’s authentic, smart, resilient, philanthropic, indomitable, and hugely successful in a way that has integrity and grace (and creative too).

Bristol Women’s Commission brings together partners, including Avon & Somerset Police, to identify and tackle issues impacting women and girls. With women’s representation task forces running campaigns in the past, this focus now crosses a range of groups – from women in business to women and girls’ education. Find out more about the work of the Commission here.

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