The art of being flexible, courageous and ready for anything
When I accepted the leadership of WithIt in 2012, a three-year term that took me from president to board chair, I knew that my greatest asset would be the people I served – more than 500 women leaders. Warren Bennis once said that becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is that simple. It is that difficult. Leadership, for me is as challenging as it is rewarding – and I never tire of learning from other leaders.
What’s interesting about my leadership journey is how it’s more about courage than power, more about being open than edicts and absolutely more about those around me than what lies within me. I believe that when you find the leader in yourself, what you’re really doing is acknowledging that power and leadership is the connection between you and those you lead. Here’s what I believe all good leaders hold true to their hearts:
- Good leaders invest in mentoring others and welcome being mentored themselves – from many sources
- Fear – and it’s by product, courage – can make you a stronger leader if you allow yourself to truly get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Power is not a zero sum game. A leader must actively seek out success of those people she leads because without their success, she can never truly succeed.
I’ve been honored to lead and be part of the leadership teams of some incredible organizations: WithIt, Women in Biz Network, Women Powering Technology and the Waterloo MIN to name some of the more recent ones. On April 30th in Waterloo, I’ll be the keynote speaker for the Women of Waterloo WOW Awards and on May 7th I’ll speak to high school entrepreneurs about leadership in social media. To be honest, I’m always a little surprised when people request me as a speaker but then I remember something a mentor once told me, “Whether you’re serving fries, changing diapers or facilitating a board meeting, you have the power to shape someone’s life. Whether you know it or not, someone is watching you, listening to you and learning from you.”
I’ve been invited to attend the Art of Leadership Conference in Toronto and to say I’m over the moon happy would be an understatement. Like other “Art Of” Conferences I’ve attended, the lineup of speakers is astounding. While the headliners intrigue me because of all they’ve done in their lives, I’m excited to attend for the chance to hear their stories in their own words. These are a few of the leaders I’m especially eager to hear from:
I was a fan of Martha long before it was fashionable. In fact, one of her early books (Martha Stewart Weddings 1987) became the roadmap for my nuptials the next year and Martha Stewart’s Christmas (1987) became my do-it-yourself bible during the first years of my marriage. Her unique sense of style and razor sharp business acumen shaped a generation of women who watched her grow an empire rivaled by few.
What can a four-time gold medalist in an overwhelmingly male-dominated sport teach women about leadership? I’m betting a whole lot. I’m eager to hear how she’s fought against the tide her whole career and yet remained an accessible, positive leader to women and men. As a woman in a very male dominated industry, I’m mindful of the balance between being a business woman or a business person who happens to be a woman.
Wendy is the host of the Art of Leadership for Women, but I’ve watched her for years from home. I know she’ll recap each of the speakers after each session, succinctly replaying the must-not-forget-points. I’m also looking forward to her stringing the speakers together for us at the end of the day. Thoughtful, caring and insightful – Wendy has earned her spot on this stage.
Join me at The Art of Leadership for Women
There’s nothing I’d love more than to sit beside smart, sassy women (and some amazingly supportive men) for the Art of Leadership for Women. If you’d like to join me, here’s the 411:
- Visit their website: The Art of Leadership for Women
- Visit their special promo page (use this code => BLOG26) and save $100 off per ticket: Coupon for The Art of Leadership
- Hang out with them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
- Give me a shout out and let me know you’ll be there – so we can sit together!