Many moons ago, three women sat listening to journalist, author and human rights activist, Sally Armstrong, speak about the atrocities women were facing in Afghanistan. This was at the height of the Taliban regime when women’s voices were being silenced and their rights violated.
As Sally wrapped up, she challenged the audience to find one way they could mobilize and create change in their local community.
Valerie, Karen and Sheryl-Ann looked at each other, and Karen said, “I know. Let’s get a bunch of women in a room. Maybe a thousand! And see what we can create.”
(Let it be said that there is no challenge too big for Karen, which is why she is now an Executive Vice President for an oil and gas company, Canadian Top 40 and Women of Influence award recipient, and sought-after speaker among many other accolades).
Valerie and Sheryl-Ann (powerhouses in their own right) laughed nervously but agreed to the idea because they instinctively knew that the power for change began with women. Particularly women who worked collaboratively.
A pinky swear promise
And so, with nothing but a pinky swear (Karen’s request to make it a binding agreement) and the seed of an idea, these three women (plus another friend, Mona, who they recruited the next day) galvanized and spearheaded the Women’s Leadership Forum, a unique conference that provided the space for women to step into their potential to lead.
I had the immense privilege of being on the steering committee for what would become four sold-out events (and yes! There were 1,000 women in the room). These Forums were not like your typical stuffy conference – they tapped the heartbeat of women who knew they were capable of more but hadn’t yet activated it or given themselves permission to claim it. And they built friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
We worked hard to bring this idea to fruition. There were long days, stressful moments wondering if all the pieces would come together. And exhaustion once it was done.
But it was worth every tough moment. They were magic. Truly.
Leadership is a choice
These forums reminded me of the power we each have individually, and collectively to make a deep, lasting impact in both small and large ways.
And it also reminded me that leadership is a choice we all get to make.
It’s easy to forget that when you’re running a business isn’t it?
You are so immersed in the day-to-day grind of serving clients, fulfilling on external requests, getting a blog post ready to publish, managing your team and handling all the admin that comes with being the boss.
Who has time to think about leadership, let alone room to consider what your bigger contribution could be (and whether you’re anywhere on the path to fulfilling it)?
Why would building your leadership skills really matter when you’re just trying to keep your head above water?
I’ll tell you why.
Because the world needs your leadership.
Now more than ever.
You have a powerful role to play in the new economy. As a business owner, you are uniquely positioned to make your mark without the confines of gatekeepers and company rules.
And we need you to step up, take your place at the table and bring the brightest version of yourself to the challenges that perplex our 21st century lives.
To use your voice. To seek opportunities to grow. To not hold back.
> Maybe that’s by helping a burnt out mom claim back the part of herself she’d lost to motherhood
> Maybe that’s helping business owners get more clients so the value chain ripples out further and further
> Maybe that’s helping people navigate recovery so they can create better lives for themselves
> Maybe that’s creating a magical website experience for a business so they can launch their services into the world
> Maybe that’s helping women make healthy choices, giving them more energy to do their most important work
> Maybe that’s bringing justice to an oppressed group through advocacy or non-profit work
Or maybe it’s something else. It might be small and intimate, or it might be big and scalable. The size doesn’t matter, but the substance does.
Create a ripple effect
Because when you rise up and build your confidence, clarity and capacity to lead well, you set a ripple effect into motion that has a tremendous impact.
As Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop once said —
“Not all revolutionaries set out to change the world per se; some set out to change their own worlds. And in so doing, they often change the way one person, or a few people, or whole communities, or entire nations or the world thinks and operates in some significant way.”
This is what my current cohort of Leadership League Mastermind members are waking up to. They came in with varying and conflicted relationships with the term leadership, and now just halfway through, are re-engaging with their work in profoundly powerful ways.
To be clear: they aren’t all starting social movements or fighting injustices.
What they ARE doing is integrating their values into everything they do. They ARE stepping out of the background and taking their deserved place in the foreground. They ARE identifying their unique personal brand of leadership so their clients and customers can get the very best they have to give. And they ARE taking courageous risks in service of being in service.
This is leadership. And their leadership is making a difference, both in the impact they’re making and in the way they feel and engage with their work.
Because, as one member so perfectly put it —
“The world needs my leadership because it’s the only way I’m going to practice my values and make effective change. My leadership needs to be strengthened, developed, defined so I can make small ripples of impact in my circles of influence that can lead to larger ripples.”
I’m here to remind you that your business can be so much more.
That you can expand so much more.
And that you can impact so much more.
Leadership is a choice.
And as Seth Godin asks, “Are you willing to leap and lean forward to lead?”
If you are, I’d love you to apply to my Leadership League Mastermind. The program runs six months beginning October 26th. It is one-part leadership training, one-part coaching and one-part mastermind. It’s a small, intimate group with only 6-8 spots available so please apply soon.
Apply before September 30th, and receive a bonus private coaching session with me.