Every luxury. Community. Self-care. Empowerment. Storytelling. Sponsorship.
These are the words that inspired my Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) December 2015 experience. Below are three lessons I share with you as a result of my attendance as you embark on 2016.
1. Indulge in every day luxury and self-care. The Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island in Florida treated each of us like it was our day in the sun (pun intended). The faculty members who ran WLI did the same, asking us to take time for ourselves which meant giving us permission to skip sessions and find time during scheduled breaks to enjoy the spa, a warm bath in our own fabulous and plush rooms or to join fellow attendees for sunrise yoga on the beach. And, I listened, as did many other women at the conference — I spent over 8 hours at the spa! Do you listen to these calls from your friends, families and colleagues to every day luxury? I know that I wasn’t prior to WLI.
2. Empower community through storytelling. During the conference’s educational sessions, we were inspired by the stories of women from different functional areas, levels of leadership, power and states. We discovered that we much more connected us to each others’ experiences than we were separate. Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Office to Levo League and Launch Team Member to Lean In, kicked off a stellar two and a half days a diverse set of female faculty voices in a comprehensive and intentional curricula. They offered many quotable pieces advice, a few of which are below.
“Introduce a woman in a way that makes her want to be herself” – Tiffany Dufu, on the power of community connectedness among women
“Bloom where you are planted” – Kim Harrington, Vice President for Human Resources, Georgia Tech on risk and reward in your career
“If we help each other, we can get our standing ovation” – Teri Bump, Vice President of University Relations at American Campus Communities on executive presence
“Know and take care of yourself. This is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Be your best self, always; you never know who’s watching.” – Bronté Jones, Vice President of Finance and Administration, Dickinson College on advancing your career and resiliency
3. Know the difference between sponsorship and mentor-ship. Act on the former.
A sponsor is someone in a position of power who uses his or her influence to advocate on your behalf.
A strong mentoring relationship is built on collaboration and the commitment to the professional development of one or both of its participants.
As a result of the many women who expressed concern regarding raising children in today’s gendered climate coupled with the discriminatory practices of power at their institutions, the call-to-action was clear. Consider what you need and take care of yourself so that you can lift up the women around you and give back to your communities with your talents so the young boys and girls in your lives will feel the way these young girls do in this video, Fast Forward Girls 2015, that Teri Bump shared with us. Girls have more female role models now more than ever before in the media but we are too, and are in their lives almost every day. Consider the power we have in sponsoring each other and of the youth to come.
To close, I want to extend a huge thank you to ACUI, NACUBO, the faculty members, sponsors (especially Spelman and Johnson), fellow attendees and the Ritz Carlton for reminding me of the power that those 6 words above have on me personally and the ways in which they drive me professionally. This is a great holiday and parting gift from 2015! So I ask in these final days of 2015, take the time to treat yourself to a moment of selfishness and extravagance, consider the communities you can influence and stay tuned for future blog posts from me about my WLI experience in the new year!