Ready. Set. Lead! Women’s Leadership Summit 2016

Contributed by CarrieAnn Frese

Junior League of Annapolis members Heather Medina and myself had the privilege of attending Junior League of Wilmington, Delaware’s Women’s Leadership Summit in February 2016.

Women leaders from the Wilmington community spoke on the power of gratitude, courage and empathy. They encouraged participants to reflect on the privileges in their lives and how experiences can deliver purpose.

They spoke about being open to opportunity and having the courage to do the next big thing. Junior League of Wilmington President, Kristen McMullen, encouraged us to not be afraid to go on the journey. Some of the themes and major takeaways from the day included thoughts on perspective, purpose, leadership, planning, branding and balance.

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On Perspective

Women have a unique perspective and voice, and as a woman, you owe it to yourself and to the organization to use that voice and have ownership. Use resiliency to become creative and inspire those around you. Know yourself and be honest, then work proactively on your gaps. Doing so fuels the courage to grow and take on different types of experiences.

On Purpose

We all strive to live and work towards our fullest potential. Speakers recommend identifying your purpose and life goals, which leads to living a life of purpose. Each of us has a purpose that impacts others, alters our life, and is a natural extension of who we are. It requires commitment, can be manifested in more than one way, and brings joy. The speakers noted that passion and purpose don’t have to be the same thing, as purpose is more innate and you can have more than one purpose. Knowing the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ makes defining your purpose easier.

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On Leadership

Leadership was defined as equaling influence. We were encouraged to be a change agent, build trust, and set goals, as well as listen to and motivate others and deal with conflict. Without trust, you have nothing. Writing down your goals and plan is preferred, as each minute spent planning saves ten minutes in execution. When having conversations, ensure that individuals feel safe so that real conversations can thrive. If you make a mistake, own it, groan about it, then get over it and move on.

On Planning

There was a terrific session on creating a personal strategic plan. You should clearly define your purpose and set goals because a goal is a dream taken seriously. It’s recommended that you communicate goals and objectives to the important people in your life, as this promotes accountability. House control of your life with yourself and don’t abdicate your power to external forces. Make effective use of resources by focusing those on key priorities and also provide a baseline for measuring progress and establish a mechanism for informed changed when needed. Consider what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. Ask yourself if you’re busy about the right things. Don’t forget to nurture yourself and create goals that are achievable, believable and conceivable.

On Branding

There was a fantastic panel of women who spoke about managing your personal brand. A brand is defined as what it is about you that is remarkable, that makes you different- it’s you as an individual. You can’t be all things to all people. Consider what would evolve your brand from where you are to where you’re going. The panel encouraged staying true to yourself and vision after deciding who you are and then staying consistent with your message. Being conscious of social media is important as it reflects on you, your brand and your company.

On Balance

The last speaker of the day presented on finding balance in your life. It truly is difficult and it is no wonder why women are underrepresented in community leadership roles. In trying to save communities, we often forget to save ourselves. It’s recommended that you try to establish boundaries and to be present where you’re at, at that time. Things that are barriers to balance include a lack focus or intention, guilt, blind comparisons, no clear understanding of what balance means to you, as well as changing the level of satisfaction in your life.

Some practical tips include sharing the stress and delegating when able. Recognize the end point and how it can’t be perfection. Set priorities then re-evaluate them often. Practice saying no to some requests and yes to the important ones. Living mindfully, keeping perspective and recognizing the seasons of life were also recommended.

Another option is to optimize your ability to decide on high impact choices and consider how will these affect you in 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 months? 5 years? We are encouraged to not let the 5-minute decisions trip you up. If you could spend 15 minutes a day on yourself, use it to improve yourself and learn a new skill. In conclusion, remember, it’s your life and live the life you feel good about.

“The Women’s Leadership Summit was a great opportunity to network with like-minded women and to develop skills for our personal and professional growth.”  – Heather Medina