For the past 2 days, I was very fotunate to attend a "Women In Leadership" conference sponsored by my employer. Planned by 2 females on our executive council (ie, the executive council reports directly to the CEO of the organization), no expense was spared and no detail over looked. Case in point - they had a gift for us at the end of the conference - it was a Vera Bradley cosmetic bag, luggage tag and coin purse. As I said, no detail was overlooked - Vera Bradley was chosen because it was a company owned by a woman in our Indiana service territory.
We were fortunate to have a number of terrific speakers on hand - including the attorney general of Illinois Lisa Madigan (www.illinoisattornetgeneral.gov) Connie Lindsey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Norther Trust and the current President of the Girl Scouts of America (http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/leaders) and the former chief of staff for the first Lady Michelle Obama. We also heard from the Dean of the School of Business at Notre Dame, Dr. Carolyn Woo, a member of our Board of Directors.
All of these women are amazing women in their own right - passionate about what they do and believe in giving of themselves to help create more opportunities for women. In my professional career, I have been fortunate to have never had to wonder if I would be held back because I was a woman - I have always felt that if I worked hard and did the right things, that those opportunities would be there for me. To date, this has been the case. But there are a lot of tough situations for women in the workplace - how their co workers perceive them (male and female) achieving balance personally and professionally and taking risks were among the topoics we spoke about.
We also had the gift of hearing from our chairman of the board, as well as our CEO. Our CEO is an awesome leader. He very personable (I know him on a first name basis), very humble and has displayed the ability to make some diffucult decisions in the best interest of the company. I feel very fotunate to not only have a job, but to be working for a company with terrific leadership.
What I took most away from the conference was that occassionally you have to take risk to get potential reward and that finding where your yin meets your yang is key. Dr Woo spoke of leadership in three words - self, others heart. In a nutshell, to be an effective leader, you have to care and nurture yourself, have the capacity to care and nurture others and do everything with passion in your heart - whatever it is. Don't feel guilty for setting limits and enforcing those limits.
All in all, it was a great two days. Last night, a group of us gathered to go out and ended up at a dueling piano bar....transportation for the evening was a Hummer Limo...cost was negotiated by one of our Supply Chain people (who negotiates contracts on a daily basis) So 10 of us rode around in a white Hummer limo that probably could have fit 10 more of us! Just for clarification...this bill was footed by the 10 of us. :)