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Dr Lynda Folan

Inspiring Female Founder Spotlight: Dr Lynda Folan

Dr Lynda Folan is an Organisational Psychologist and renowned Leadership and Organisational Development expert. She is the author of ‘Leader Resilience, The New Frontier of Leadership (2021).’As Managing Director of Inspired Development Solutions, Lynda leads a team that provides leading-edge and bespoke solutions that support her clients to achieve excellence.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was born and raised in South Africa and completed my first degree at the University of Natal in Durban. I chose to do a degree with a triple major in Psychology (Organisational), Economics and Marketing. My first job as a Human Resources officer in Local Government introduced me to the dynamics of human behaviours in an organisational setting. This early experience ignited my passion and solidified my desire to pursue a career in organisational psychology.

Having always aspired to study at the University of London, I jumped at the opportunity to complete a Master of Organisational Psychology at Birkbeck.  During my time in the UK, I built a highly successful career leading International Human Resources and Organisational Development teams and delivering large-scale cultural change programs in various organisations.

In 2007, I made a significant life decision and moved to Australia. Inspired Development Solutions was founded on building strong client relationships and providing bespoke solutions that produce results.

How did you achieve awareness?

Inspired Development Solutions has grown through building a network of incredible clients and delivering exceptional outcomes when we are offered the opportunity to provide a piece of work. We always give 100% no matter how big or small the piece of work. Our client base has been built through relationships, and all our new clients come to us via word of mouth.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I have personally funded the development and growth of the business and have not required external funding to grow the business.

Our growth has been organic, with revenue increasing by 20% to 30% annually. After a slight decline during the first year of COVID, the business bounced back. Last year, with increased team capacity, we almost doubled our revenue based on the prior year.

What are the key business and personal successes?

For me, the key successes are our clients’ achievements that are achieved with our support. Some recent examples:

  • A dysfunctional team is now high-performing and delivering outcomes they never believed possible.
  • A CEO who has turned around the organisational culture and delivered an 84% uplift in revenue.
  • A leader with mental health issues effectively manages this and has learned to thrive in a pressured leadership role.
  • A mine site has shifted from an open sexist and racist environment to a psychologically safe place for everyone.

From a personal perspective, the thing that I am super proud of is being able to balance parenting my gorgeous son, completing my Doctorate, and growing a successful business all at the same time.

What were/are the challenges, and how have you overcome these?

Our work requires that we are up to date with the latest developments in organisational psychology as well as staying ahead of our clients and their sectors. I use my spare time for ongoing study and learning to overcome this. I am 100% committed to maintaining relevance, so being very disciplined about how I use my time is critical.

Another challenge I face is that some clients we work with have very male-dominated work environments where sexist behaviours are still pervasive. This poses some challenges in the work we do in building psychologically safe workplaces and creating cultures that are healthy and inclusive for everyone.  It takes courage and diplomacy to confront these issues respectfully while supporting people to shift their behaviour. The way we overcome this is first to question ourselves and make sure that there is nothing we can do differently to shift the situation. Secondly, we respectfully call the behaviour being demonstrated, allowing the opportunity for dialogue and resolution. We also spend a lot of time mentoring women in leadership in these environments, supporting them to build their capacity to deal with sexist behaviours and be confident to call it openly and transparently.

What are your plans now/for the future?

In 2023 we will be taking up the challenge of broadening our offering and reaching a greater number of people through online content.

  • We are launching our first podcast series in March, focusing on exceptional women in leadership.
  • In May, we are launching our first online Leadership Resilience program.
  • There is a significant demand for mental health, well-being, and resilience support across the globe. We will be developing online content for this over the next 12 months.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Find something you are passionate about and build your business around this.

Inspire and value those around you.

Keep learning and developing yourself so that you evolve with the times.

Never settle for average, always strive for excellence.

Nurture long-term relationships with clients.

Make time for self-care and take care of your resilience.

Who are the five people who inspire you the most and why?

Stephen Covey | Stephen has always been an inspiration for me. His guidance on maintaining personal and leadership effectiveness is foundational in my work and how I live my life. The opportunity to study with him and his team in Utah still stands out as one of the most amazing experiences.

Oprah Winfrey | She is an inspiring woman who has had an incredible career that has spanned a significant number of years. Her skill in getting people to open up is impressive to behold.

Dr Andrew Huberman | Andrew is a neuroscientist at Harvard University who delivers fascinating and informative podcasts. He takes incredibly complex topics, making them practical and easy to understand. His work is making an incredible difference to our understanding of the brain and how to overcome the challenges of mental health.

Nelson Mandela | I have always been inspired by Mandela’s incredible ability to forgive people and lead from peace. No matter how he was treated or how much he suffered, he always chose the route of peace and harmony. I was incredibly fortunate to attend one of the charity events celebrating his 80th birthday party. Shaking his hand and simply being in his presence was an absolute honour.

Roy Tutty | I worked with Roy in one of my corporate roles. He was an incredible CEO to work with, and I learned a lot from him. His humility and authenticity were the things that stood out.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“Leadership is not a rank or a position, it is a choice.” Simon Sinek

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” Nelson Mandela

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.” Stephen Covey

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  



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