Less than 48 hours after hearing our country had not elected our first female POTUS, I had the honor of attending an event with my former colleague, friend, and cousin that celebrated women leaders. We were encouraged to keep our heads up and that the battle didn’t end with the election results. Even though I’m no longer in the grocery industry, I’m still a female leader. I’m on a cloud of happiness from the event and would like to share 8 quick takeaways from Top Women in Grocery’s Leadership Development Program to inspire others like I was.
8 Takeaways from Top Women in Grocery’s Leadership Development Program
- Author of “Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way”, Robin Gerber spoke to us about how the results of the election aligned with thought that “our [women] leadership is not yet recognized as fully and importantly as it needs to be”. This was clearly evidenced when Gerber started to write her book as she could only find one other book about female leadership – and it was on Elizabeth I.
- According to Gerber, leaders need to communicate. This is what Eleanor did, and she did three important things with her communication:
- She communicated in a new way (and held the first ever First Lady press conference, three days before her husband’s first press conference as President).
- She communicated to the American people that she was listening (by asking them to write to her).
- She communicated with presence (and didn’t lead from her office/home).
- When we have a purpose and fight for it, we need to be ready to deal with criticism. Roosevelt had numerous quotes on this, including “get skin as thick as a rhinoceros hide”.
- Leaders empower others to lead (fearlessly). This was key throughout stories that Gerber told of Roosevelt’s life but also in listening to the executive panel tell their stories of leadership. We cannot stop the fight because someone makes us afraid.
- Recognize your leadership potential. I was reading “How: Why We Do Anything Means Everything” by Dov Seidman last month and he notes that leadership isn’t something that can be learned in the same way other skills can. You need to find opportunities to let your skills grow, things like leadership seminars, books, and strong mentors help a lot. In turn, support others who want to lead. “It’s up to us to be great leaders,” Gerber said.
- The panel talked about mistakes in their lives that turned into blessings in disguise. Judith Spires (CEO of Kings Food Markets) paraphrased a favorite saying that my leader has said, too: if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t moving forward. Mistakes are okay, they’re how we learn and grow!
- For women who feel stuck in the pipeline, the panel offered some suggestions to clear that impasse:
- “You may not always be ready to take the next step. Do it anyway.” (Susan Morris, Albertsons)
- “Make your annual appraisal an opportunity for yourself.” (Judith Spires, Kings Food Markets)
- Finally, the most impactful takeaway for me was that we need to network. Let me rephrase that. We need support, and we need to seek common people (an affinity) to help us move forward. Together, we can do great things.
I am grateful for the support of my company, allowing me to take a day and grow myself, to allow me to bring back my learnings to my peers. I am grateful for my cousin who won this award and invited me to join her on this day of learning and celebration. I am grateful for a husband who I am not lucky to have, but a husband who embraces the true unity of marriage and teamwork, stepping up to take care of the kids and house while I am off blossoming. Now off to take these leadership development program gems and apply them!