Sonia McDonald

Leadership Coach


Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald is a dynamic and renowned speaker, author, entrepreneur, and founder of LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc., with over 30 years’ professional experience.

Her mission is to empower people who are leading others to move from good to great leadership. Sonia’s passion is encouraging people to lead with courage, kindness, purpose, and impact.

Sonia achieves her passion by providing executive leadership coaching services, specialist consulting, and empowering keynote speaking on a range of topics including leadership, neuroscience, entrepreneurship, confidence, and courage. Her award-winning books include — First Comes Courage, Just Rock It! and Leadership Attitude—are supported by a wide range of leadership materials that have been available globally.

Sonia’s qualifications include a business degree majoring in human resources and psychology, as well as a Diploma in Neuroscience, combined with many years of professional experience in Australia and internationally.

Named one of the ‘Top 250 Influential Women Across the Globe’ by digital business magazine Richtopia, and one of the ‘Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs’, Sonia counts her role as a mother to her beautiful daughter above any other of her many achievements.


Leadership by Women

What has become very evident through the devastating challenges the world has faced during the last year is that significant changes in leadership are required to deal with the fallout. Countries led by women are creating revolutionary impacts and this has the potential to build foundations for future success. Through my own journey, experience, writing, and research, I have come to realise what it takes to be a truly courageous leader. I have empowered and educated women, helping corporates embrace attracting and developing women and altered the balance in male dominated industries. My vast experience over 25 years is at the forefront of leadership change and I have created a foundation of courageous, kind, authentic women leaders who inspire, encourage and bring out the best in others. Overall, my mission is to help women across the globe to be courageous in their lives and careers through leadership.

My Journey

I resolved to start building a new future and model how women can be tenacious and independent after a forced lifestyle change in 2006. With a devastating end to my marriage, feelings of loneliness, unsure of my future as a solo mother and being stuck in a foreign country, I decided to take control. Within a few months, I had gained a position as a leadership trainer and consultant and found my passion in inspiring people to learn and grow. I started the LeadershipHQ blog in 2007. With a growing following and the desire to make an even greater impact, I established my LeadershipHQ consulting business in 2008 and then McDonald Inc. in 2019.

Since then, I have helped thousands of good leaders become great leaders; progressing their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspiring others to join them. I believe we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, doing rather than telling. I have a wealth of experience working on-on-one with emerging leaders, women in business, SME’s right through to CEOs of multi-national organisations and start-up enterprises. I have advised and coached 1000’s of leaders to success over the past decade, published Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It and First Comes Courage and I write regularly for publications. I have noticed how women are impacting nations globally and am supporting women in leadership to support that aim.

Pushing Through Barriers

Historically, women have been under-represented in leadership positions. Any sort of decision-making in public tends to lean towards sexism and ageism, marginalising both younger generations and women in particular. There are great benefits to be gained however with women in leadership through their empathy, collaboration and insight. 

Younger women are starting to push through these barriers and become the leaders of causes that matter to their generation. Whether it’s protesting governments for various types of reform, climate marches or for women’s rights, young women are becoming the face of movements around the world. These examples include Sanna Marin, the world’s youngest government leader and Finland’s Prime Minister, Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai who are very prominent young women leaders in recent history. The important point to note about this, however, is that the common link between these young women is that they are leaders in an ‘informal’ way. They are not noticed by the more formal hiring systems, which value traditionally male traits, favouring older men in particular. This system sees the tradition of mainly older men hiring and promoting those who closely resemble them. I believe in shaking up these traditional views and getting rid of them once and for all. My approach is to allow diversity to improve things for us all and let’s really start embracing our young women as the leaders they can be – and that some already are! I am incredibly passionate about supporting women as emerging leaders through the leadership programs that I provide. 

Women supporting women

Historically, women have perceived that a small amount of power and opportunity are available to us—and that these resources are controlled and granted to us by others. So, when some small door of opportunity cracks open, we greedily shove one another out of our way in an effort to be the first—or better yet only—woman through the gap. We often feel we must compete with one another to win a share of influence, and we resent one another for successes, believing other women’s achievement inherently erodes our own. The irony here is that in buying the idea of scarcity and bruising each other on our way through the door, we essentially guarantee that the real power stays in the hands of others.

Through the approach in my company, I ensure that women support one another rather than compete—when they feel abundance rather than their own scarcity, and they share out of that abundance—great things happen. With my focus on taking small steps in solidarity, women really make a difference. Because we’re all together, that makes all the difference. My motto is to be a cheerleader and surround yourself with cheerleaders!

My Mission

I have transitioned from a scared, abandoned woman into a strong and determined one, who helps others undergo their own transformation. In particular, I have built on my own experience to empower and educate women, helping corporates embrace attracting and developing women and getting women into male dominated industries. Because we don’t see many women leaders nowadays, I am now increasing focus for women through a revised company approach and a sharpened strategy to “support women who need advice, inspiration, skills, training and coaching to get a job, gain skills for the future of work, start a business and get that seat at the table.” My mission is to help women across the globe be courageous in their lives, careers and leadership and I have a vision to lead 1 million women to courage and step in, step up and start up.

Sonia McDonald


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Leadership by Women | Sonia McDonald
Article Name
Leadership by Women | Sonia McDonald
McDonald Inc. was founded by Sonia McDonald, a vibrant and well-known speaker, author, and businesswoman who is also the founder of LeadershipHQ.
Publisher Name
The Women Leaders
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