Though being a woman is a 365-days-a-year job, it is good to have an opportunity to pause and reflect on the seismic impact women have made on society, especially in recent times – and, as well, on my own journey as a leader in technology and the mother of a daughter. From our history-making vice president, frontline COVID heroes, to the women at Neo4j who live out their dream jobs every day, Women’s History Month gives us ample chance to elevate all women.
Earlier this year, I was looking for new ways to grow my network, knowledge, and leadership skills for greater professional and personal impact. My manager, Lisa Hatheway, sent me an invite for LWT and its WILpower program, an organization that does just that – lifting women up through meaningful talent development programs.
I had previously heard great things about this organization from others, and was intrigued to be a part of such a diverse group of women. The LWT participants are from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, though they all share a bold determination to drive innovation in their organizations, and be more effective leaders. After participating in the WILpower program for just a couple of sessions, I was hooked.
I’ve enjoyed all of the sessions so far. Many topics were discussed in the program’s live conversations, such as public speaking, keeping creativity alive, advancing women leaders, and staying on top of your game while working from home. I especially liked Carol Isozaki’s presentation on leadership branding. It resonated with me on many different levels. She brought the group’s attention to the emotional reactions we consistently create in others and how that impacts team performance and customer loyalty. Every interaction counts, and offers an opportunity to strengthen both your own and your company’s brand. It’s what you do, not what you say. Actively managing that leadership brand helps define your value proposition and grow business impact.
Sponsoring LWT signals to the larger community that Neo4j is actively investing in the development and advancement of women employees, and that is great. The LWT program teaches women who are already excelling at driving results, creating strong teams, and acting with resilience, gain more confidence and encourage them to grow into even stronger leaders.
Today’s business environments are demanding. We have come to expect a lot from today’s leaders – from creating strategies, the operational knowledge to translate strategies into digestible plans, the emotional IQ it takes to grow and inspire teams on top of staying aligned with all parts of the organization, while not forgetting to make investments in self-development. All this is fair. But what is not sustainable and far too subjective – is trying to be perfect and be all things to all people.
LWT has helped me understand that in today’s world the leader’s job is to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, and nurture and manage the contributions of others. Nobody could possibly stay on top of everything – and for a lot of women this is a tough nut to crack. Perfectionism is at fault. Women don’t answer questions until we are 100% sure of the answer. We don’t sign up for that yoga class unless we are nearly flawless. And we don’t submit that Power Point presentation unless it has all the Oxford commas in place. We obsess as managers, mothers, sisters, chefs, housekeepers, and investors. The paradox is that this strive for perfection doesn’t actually serve us in the best possible way. No leader is complete, even if you are a superwoman, and that’s why the winning strategy is in surrounding yourself with supportive teams and networks to achieve that sense of completeness.
The richness of the LWT program is hard to put in words, and I truly believe people should just go ahead and try it. As long as you are approaching the program with an open mind and a desire to learn, leadership training can improve what you already know, teach new skills, and lay the groundwork for accelerating your growth.
The energy you get from investing in yourself is always magical. I encourage all women to reflect on how far they’ve come, and take that time a few hours a month to unleash the expertise, vision, and new ideas your companies need from your leadership. LWT and WILpower offer that opportunity and more.
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