Sunday, March 7, 2010

Leadership Tips from the International Women's Festival 2010

Emerging Leadership

By Dr. Astrid Sheil
At the 3rd Annual International Women's Festival Santa Barbara, California

The day has arrived and the Festival is a beehive of activity with women talking, learning, sharing, buying, and oh, did I mention talking? The energy is palpable in the convention hall. The opening plenary panel on leadership really delivered great information and tips on leadership to the attendees.

Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, the president of National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-California), which represents 1.4 million women entrepreneurs in the state of California, was the facilitator for the kick-off panel. Betsy, who has had a stellar career in public relations, executive search, and broadcasting, offered some powerful data from national research on women leaders and entrepreneurs. “All the data indicates our leadership is different from men,” she stated. “Women are more persuasive in their leadership. We use more nurturing ways to accomplish our goals. We are more willing to take risks and ignore the rules. There is a sense of optimism that women share.”

As Victoria Colligan, the founder of Ladies Who Launch, noted in her opening remarks, “There is no one way to do this, no one way to be successful. The best way to learn is to share our stories.” Victoria knows from which she speaks. As the founder of the first new media company to provide resources, inspiration and community to women entrepreneurs, Victoria has been instrumental in helping women realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Her advice to women, “Find someone to model. Find a mentor—someone who can help you collaborate and build relationships. This will help you move your business forward.”

Denita Willoughby, the vice president of AT&T, talked about how inspirational her mother has been throughout her life. Her first job in high school was as a bagger at Ralph’s Grocery store. Her mother told her, “No matter what you do, be the best you can be. If you approach it with passion and pride, you will be successful and doors will open for you.” Denita went on to be promoted quickly to several leadership positions before she even graduated from high school and later graduated from Harvard University. She is a mentor, a leader and member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Margo Day, vice president for small and midmarket solutions for Microsoft Corporation, told the crowd that the keys to success are having a passion for what you do, creating a strong brand, keeping your word, and being authentic with your customers. She said, “Be true to yourself and genuine with others. People will naturally gravitate to you and will want to follow you.”

The tips for successful leadership came fast and furiously. Betsy summed up the panelists’ comments by saying, “The gem of leadership is inside every woman. The key is finding it and getting others to recognize it.” To do this, she concluded, “Get involved, volunteer, and accept responsibility.”

Astrid Sheil, PhD is the president of Sheil & Associates, a public relations consultancy. She is also associate chair of the communication studies department at Cal State University San Bernardino, where she teaches public relations and social media.  She is a member of the board of directors of the AndreSobel River of Life Foundation.

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