I am still energized by a day spent April 10 at the third annual WILD Summit (sponsored by Women Inspiring Leadership Development). This event grew out of the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business. It “showcases our women leaders of today and fosters the development of . . . women leaders” (from the Chairs’ welcome letter). The theme was “Choices.”
There was an inspiring keynote by Barbara Mowry (whose resume can’t be reduced to a parenthetical but includes Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) and a luncheon keynote full of good tips by Elaine Feeney (CEO of Wayin). In addition to our session (more to come), there was a session on getting “boxed in,” a panel on making confident decisions, a session on strategic networking (including differences in how men and women approach their networks) – and lots more.
Rich Grenhart and I delivered a workshop we felt great about. It was titled, “Leveraging Masculine and Feminine Strengths: Better Choices, Better Leaders, Better Results.” We framed as choice the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill — for both men and women. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results.
We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and therefore for gender diversity. We facilitated group discussions on what choices women have to overcome these obstacles – the double bind, the comfort principle, unconscious images and other unintentional biases.
We had over 150 participants – professionals and students. We got great feedback. One person said “I’ve been to lots of programs on this topic; this is by far the best I’ve seen.” Another felt we had given a name (in a way both men and women could “get”) to biases she had experienced; this understanding gave her choices! My favorite piece of feedback was simply, “Awesome.”
We loved doing the workshop. We loved being in a huge gathering of powerful women – and women ready to spread their wings (students at Leeds). We loved making the difference we are committed to making I am inspired to encourage greater collaboration among various organizations that share the same mission – e.g., The Leadership Investment (its Success Forum is October 23) and the Virtual Exchange (Vx). We are all helping companies get the full benefit of gender diversity.
Were you at WILD? What did you think?