Last week I participated in a leadership course in Chicago, and all the participants were women. I wrote about the general structure of leadership courses last week. After this experience, I have some takeaways and they are missing from that post:
1. I forgot about sharing stories and coaching discussions
2. I’ve changed over the years
3. The PEOPLE. Meeting new people, learning their stories and how they view the world, what drives them, what they strive for – it’s inspiring to say the least.
Stories and Coaching: Though philosophies are introduced, they don’t fully come alive for me until there are stories to connect to. For example, a workplace culture framework is useful to me only when I can picture people navigating within it.
When theories are applied to real life experiences, they stick better. The main difference between courses open to all genders and this one involving only women, wasn’t the theories or content, but the stories. The stories told here were told with a different lens, and there was an honesty and some direct questions that probably wouldn’t have been asked otherwise. I found some solace in the similarities between us. The benefits for me lay in the interactions between participants.
Personal Growth: I’ve changed over the last 15 years. There are a few self-assessments I’ve repeated periodically (one since high school), and I’m almost 180 degrees different on certain scales. My values haven’t changed – the core of my personality hasn’t changed – but I’ve shifted on certain axes.
I’ve identifed as introverted since I learned what that was, but I’ve demonstrated increasingly extroverted behaviour. Perhaps that is because, by and large, extroverted behaviour seems to be rewarded in our business culture. However, in the time I’ve developed extroverted behaviors, I’ve also learned that introversion is not a flaw but a strength. I still make calls that I’m uncomfortable making, purely because they make me uncomfortable. I still need time to stare at a wall and clear my head so I can re-enter the busy extroverted place I work. But I’m much more open and relaxed than I used to be.
The PEOPLE: This is the magic. I like to meet new people, particularly people who are so invested in work and life. Where did they come from? How did they get here? What are the strengths and experience they bring to the table? What do they do for fun? (That one is always a great answer.) I’m not reaching when I say I was in some fantastic company. So, thanks to you, Ladies!
In closing, I had very specific objectives for this course, and I’m happy to report I came away with the strategies and actions to work on those items. But I came home with so much more.
Have you ever experienced a time like this – when you have a basic set of goals, and come away with much more? Met people who inspired you? What was it that made it memorable?