“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Authenticity is not easy to attain and it is even more difficult to sustain. With the constant bombardment of other people’s thoughts and opinions sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to express or even recognize your own beliefs and desires. Being your authentic self-requires making intentional decisions that are true to you and the life you want to have both personally and professionally. In the workplace, valuing authenticity can make for wonderful leaders and excellent employees.

Whether you hold a leadership role in your company or not, you may find it challenging to bring aspects of yourself into the workplace for fear of not fitting with the company norm. Being authentic should not be confused with “say whatever you like and do whatever you like.” The company’s structure, mission, and values should be respected; if your individual values don’t align with those of the company you work for you may want to consider a change. That being said, all companies should encourage authenticity. Employees put forward the persona that they believe their company or employer desires, which can cause them to live an inauthentic or “divided” life. This can happen to those at the executive level as well. Top executive leadership experts, Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman discuss this in their article, How Being Authentic Accelerates Leadership in Women. “The dissonance caused by living an inauthentic or divided life can be a significant energy drain for women executives, and may be a factor in why some women opt out of the leadership track.” Life is exhausting enough. Don’t try to live life in a way someone else thinks you should. Give your company, family, and friends the best version of yourself.

With authenticity comes an opportunity for greater self-awareness. Self-awareness allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, and with this knowledge, you can highlight the areas in which you excel and rely on others to assist you with the areas in which you struggle. People who can recognize the best parts of themselves and those around them make excellent employees, but more importantly, they make extra ordinary leaders. Authenticity also helps us self-reflect to define our sense of purpose. With purpose comes the motivation and drive to take on risks and challenges that could lead to new opportunities and if you are a leader your motivation can inspire others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

– Albert Schweitzer

For more information on how authenticity and leadership go hand in hand, check out Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman’s article.

The signature event for TeamWomenMN drew a record crowd to the Minneapolis Event Centers on May 5, 2017. More than 420 women from the Twin Cities and beyond turned out for TeamWomen MN’s annual Leadership Conference. (Photo’s can be accessed here: http://smu.gs/2s9kP23 (photo credits: Julie Sturek, that.moment.frozen photography)

Keynote speaker India Hicks was a huge draw for the conference titled, “Fearless Women, Fascinating Minds.” She began her talk by sharing her background. As a young woman, she was a bridesmaid for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. She also discussed her decision to start up her own company, selling a collection of beauty accessories with the help of a team of “ambassadors,” who as a result of the partnership are inspired to pursue their own dreams.

“It’s so important when you are starting a business to really dig deep and understand it before you begin,” she said, explaining that she did plenty of research before launching her company. “You also need to understand your own strengths.”

Also presenting at the conference was Marion Parke, who left a job in medicine to enter the footwear industry. She talked about how she launched her business and the lucky breaks that got the company going. “I’m often asked what advice I would give people interested in starting a business. I say don’t ditch your day job until you know if it will work,” she said. “I still have my podiatry practice to fall back on. My message to other women is to follow your dreams and be deliberate about it.”

Linda Schwefel, managing partner of Discover Yourself, Inc., talked about the importance of maintaining extraordinary relationships and the role good communication plays in it. “Communication is 7 percent about what you say and 93 percent about who you say it to,” she said, also pointing out how everything we do is based upon perception. “Think about interacting with people every day on a more conscious level. Be aware of who you are and how you show up.”

She also led an exercise that helped women in the room better understand their personalities and how they are perceived, pointing out where people fall on the color chart. Those who are task focused, driven and demanding have red energy. Those who are calm, caring and good listeners have green energy. People who are data driven and analytical are considered blue, and the fun, energetic, enthusiastic women have yellow energy. “Understand how the people around you need to be motivated, and motivate them that way,” she said.

Also presenting at the conference were national fitness expert Chris Freytag, who shared why being healthy is the number one way to a good life; Pam Borton, founder of TeamWomen MN, who spoke about the importance of investing in yourself and how best to manage teams; Julie Schissel Loosbrock of Corporate Soul Infusion focused on how soul is the essence of who we all are and how to nurture our souls so we can achieve great thing; Retired FBI agent Deborah Pierce and retired CIA officer Patti Weber talked about leadership lessons learned; and CBS Survivor contestant Holly Hoffman spoke about never giving up.

The event also featured an awards presentation. Brigadier General Sandra L. Best was named Leader of the Year, Lisa Huey of Merrill Lynch was named Member of the Year and Beverly Mestelle was recognized with the Board Service Award. The event concluded with a Happy Hour and special vocal performance by Kat Perkins, finalist on NBC’s The Voice.

“The success of the conference exceeded our expectations! The energy in the room was truly contagious. On behalf of our entire team, we thank all those who contributed their time, creativity and spirit to this conference – especially our amazing line-up of speakers and sponsors,” said Katy Burke, TeamWomenMN Executive Director.

For more information about TeamWomenMN and how to get involved with the organization, go to http://www.teamwomenmn.org.

EVENT RECAP: TEAMWOMENMN ANNUAL WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

By Christina Milanowski (@ChristinaMila), Vice President and Social Media Director at Maccabee, a Minneapolis-based strategic public relations and online marketing agency. You can read the original post on MaccaPR blog.

As a lifelong learner, I love hearing how respected business leaders have navigated successes and challenges during their careers. Although more and more women are taking leadership positions (the number of female CEOs is increasing), the majority of business leaders tend to be male (the top 27 highest paid CEOs in Minnesota are all men, for example).

That’s one reason why I jumped at the opportunity to attend the annual women’s leadership conference on May 5th at the Minneapolis Event Center. It was my first TeamWomenMN event. I was inspired by the sheer number of attendees and the speeches by many of the respected women leaders. Here are 6 leadership lessons from speakers Chris Freytag, Marion Parke, Linda Schwefel, Deborah Pierce, Pam Borton and Julie Schissel Loosbrock:

 

“STRIVE FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION”

-CHRIS FREYTAG

It’s no surprise that passionate “fitfluencer” Chris Freytag, who is a KARE-11 TV contributor and Get Healthy U social community founder, presented on the topic of health. She explained that in health, as in our daily work lives, perfection can be the enemy of good. To achieve big goals, Freytag recommended starting by adjusting your mindset. Remove the stress of lofty goals. Instead, focus on what progress can be made toward them.

 

“NOBODY SUCCEEDS ALONE”

-MARION PARKE

Female entrepreneur Marion Parke founded the Marion Parke women’s shoe collection by merging her professional expertise as a podiatric surgeon with her love for luxury footwear. Her advice to fellow business leaders? “Nobody succeeds alone. Admit what you don’t know.” Ask questions, do your research, and surround yourself with smart people. Since founding her shoe line, Parke credits her success has been in large part due to the quality of the team she brought together.

 

“STRETCH YOUR PERSONALITY TYPE EVERY DAY”

-LINDA SCHWEFEL

Linda Schwefel, a consultant of the Insights Discovery, presented on how to communicate in full color. Interpersonal skills come down to body language and, to a lesser extent, your words and tone of voice. The Insights Discovery framework is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but it centers on four color energies (blue, red, green and yellow). Often asked which energy type makes the best leader, Schwefel explained that everyone can be a great leader, so long as you stretch your personality style. As an example, if you have a task-focused red energy, try to bring more passion and understanding from the opposite, green energy. Whether you’re stronger in the “feeling” or “thinking” personality styles or consider yourself to be an introvert or extrovert, she explained how important it is to know your personality type. Good leaders understand and lead based on their individual personality types and interpersonal dynamics.

 

“CAPABILITY, CREDIBILITY, CONFIDENCE & COURAGE”

-DEBORAH PIERCE

One of my favorite TeamWomenMN sessions featured former FBI executive Deborah Pierce and former CIA executive Patti Weber. This dynamic duo began their careers in what was the largely male-dominated world of law enforcement and intelligence, and have since retired as the Pierce-Weber Partnership.

Pierce recommended that other women leaders employ her four Cs:

  • Capability– Do the job! Focus on the mission, prioritize and organize.
  • Credibility– Gain respect. Do the job well, deal with problems head on, and take care of yourself.
  • Confidence– Be sure of yourself. For Pierce, she found it best to compartmentalize work and family. Reward excellence.
  • Courage– Be open to change. Take risks. Be collaborative. Establish trust. Laugh.

 

“EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE KEEPS YOU IN YOUR JOB”

-PAM BORTON

Perhaps you’ve found your way to your career successes through hard work and being smart in your chosen profession, but former University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton explained that “what gets you here, won’t get you there.” Now serving at Minnesota-based Borton Partners as a coach to executive-level leaders, Borton finds that her most successful clients work to recognize their own emotions and the emotions of others in their business. She recommends that women leaders be self-aware, understand others and manage relationships with that emotional intelligence.

 

“INFUSE YOUR SOUL”

-JULIE SCHISSEL LOOSBROCK

Senior Vice President of HR at Deluxe Corporation Julie Schissel Loosbrock believes that her company exists not only to generate ROI, shareholder value and profit, but also to provide well-being for the customer, Deluxe employees and their families. Recent psychological trends suggest that a company needs both an analytical side and a social side to achieve better business results. Bestselling books, like Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experiences by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, show how true happiness can greatly improve the quality of our lives. In fact, there’s evidence that organizations with executives who lead with both their heads and hearts perform better. As a result, Loosbrock’s belief that business leaders are best served bringing happiness into workplace culture has been a cornerstone of success in her current role at Deluxe.

 

For a bonus read, don’t miss this Business Insider article, “Why Women Are More Effective Leaders Than Men,” that examines leadership characteristics across gender. Though women scored higher than men in most competencies, including “takes initiative” and “practices self-development,” men scored higher on two competencies: “develops strategic perspective” and “technical or professional expertise.”

 

Thanks to the leaders featured above who shared their leadership lessons with a room full of more than 400 women (and 5 men) last week! Please comment below with your favorite advice for business leaders.

 

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