Let me set the scene…it’s the 20th of April 2021 and I’m sitting in a Zoom waiting room about to meet the Northern Ireland cohort of the EWLDT (Empowering Women To Lead Digital Transformation) programme.
A programme that focuses on people, their leadership capability and potential to inspire, motivate and empower you to become your best self and optimise your impact.
To say I’m feeling like a “fish out of water” is an understatement, two months prior my Managing Director, Phil Vernon, suggested I attend this leadership course, naturally, I jumped at the chance, but I didn’t bank on the feeling of inadequacy in the lead up to the course.
“You’re not going to know anyone; are you really smart enough for this programme; what if you embarrass yourself?”
Yes, I’m an overthinker! Can you tell?!
To cut a very long story short, none of those initial fears were realised and this course proved that, it’s one of the most inspiring things I have ever done.
So strap in, because below I have outlined my key takeaways on how the EWLDT programme made me, and countless other women, realise we are born to be leaders.
That awkward balance of knowing what you are great at, and what you need to work on. Trust me, I know how hard it is to admit your weaknesses to a group of people you don’t know, but when I did? Game changer!
I found that listening (sounds simple right?!) was one of my biggest downfalls. Entering a conversation my first thoughts would be “how can I contribute”, “how can I get my voice heard” or worse, “how do I hurry this up”. I wasn’t listening, more importantly, learning. Having that self-awareness now allows me to pause, think through what my team are saying, what they’re REALLY saying and how I can support and learn as a leader.
“Always go with your second thought, sure it may be the same as your first, but it gives you the chance to calmly think about your response.”
Challenging limiting beliefs. Despite how easy this one sounds, it’s not! Throughout the programme, I realised I wasn’t alone in this thought. In group and 1-2-1 coaching sessions, we worked through lining up those limitations (that by the way, we mostly put on ourselves) and one by one we knocked them down.
Here’s how we did it.
Challenging yourself WILL make you a better leader, don’t get me wrong, you won’t succeed all the time, the times you fail, you learn but the times you succeed, you innovate!
The last takeaway for me was body language, communication and influencing skills. Ok ok, I know what you’re thinking, power stance this, first impressions that. No! Not what I’m saying.
It’s all about acknowledging YOU, what is your body telling you, are you stressed? Are you hunched over? Are you clenching your jaw? …basically, are you ok? If you aren’t, why? And how is that being communicated to your team? No one wants to be led by negativity!
Address what situations make you stressed, angry, upset, frustrated and communicate that with your team, have an open and honest chat so that those situations can be avoided If possible. Having those conversations opens the communication both ways, you will find your team will relay what situations make them feel a similar way.
Equally, share when you feel great! Chat as a team about your successes and celebrate them, together! That simple change lends itself to influencing how your team grow together AND it makes for a much more productive working environment.
I’ve gone on too long, to wrap this up, the EWLDT programme was a total eye-opener for me.
I’ve learnt that I’m not alone in my self-doubt (which most of the time is unwarranted) and it’s been inspiring to meet other women who have encouraged me to be ambitious, be proud of my strength, be aware of my weaknesses, challenge myself continuously and who have taught me to think about how I’m going to pave the way for other women in IT.
To find out more about how Empowering You can help you make a positive change in leadership, click the link below.