I cannot believe it is 3 weeks since that amazing day at Women in Travel 2015!
The afternoon of mentoring, debates and presentation went flying past, but it left behind so many wonderful memories of people we met, women who shared their insightful journeys, some incredible stories of resilience, success and authenticity.
As one of my speakers noted, the emotions were high in the room…women gave us feedback that the event had been the highlight of the show, an opportunity to come together, experience, share, learn and network feeling safe, challenged at times but also extremely inspired.
So what did we learn from our debates and discussion that can be usefully shared?
Here are some of the key points from both debates that I feel are worth sharing and that – whether you attended the event or not – you may try to implement in your business and personal life. Please let us know what you think!
On resilience and the art of bouncing back:
- Resilience can be learnt. True, some people are born inherently more resilient than others but ultimately as life goes by and we experience different challenges we build our self confidence and our set of resilience tools.
- Resilience can be nurtured through strong relationships. Family and close friends are some of our most vital resilience tools. Their love and care for us helps us define who we are, helps us develop self confidence, self esteem and self worth which we need to maintain intact at times of crisis or difficulty.
- Resilience can be strengthened through helpful routines. Finding a little time for ourselves in our busy life can be critically important to maintain some balance, particularly when you are building a business full time or giving all you have to a job. One of my speakers, Carolyn Pearson of Maiden Voyage, spoke in particular about the fact that to avoid burning out she practices daily meditation, watches her food, makes sure she drinks enough water throughout the day and so on. Carolyn actually has a schedule which she keeps close by and checks throughout the day to ensure she sticks to it.
- Resilience increases when challenges can be shared. Building a business or focussing on delivering a top performance takes a lot of energy out of any individual and besides, it can be a lonely business especially right at the outset. All my ladies stressed the importance of being out there and making sure you network and mix with other like-minded professional and entrepreneurs on a regular basis to avoid the risk of becoming anxious and even depressed. Finding groups to network and sharing challenges or celebrate success helps us keep loneliness and self-doubt at bay even though we might be building a business from scratch and from our kitchen table.
- Resilience requires courage and self-belief. At the debate speaker Daniela Wagner shared some very personal business experience and spoke openly about the need to trust your instinct and follow your guts or intuition when the world seems to collapse around you. Ultimately you know what needs to be done, you know what is right and must find the courage to do it even though it may appear scary or out of your comfort zone.
On authentic, female leadership:
- Be fair, treat others as you would like others to treat you. However as women we must be careful not to appear ‘weak’. Carol Hay, UK Director of Marketing for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said that the risk is that people will mistake kindness for weakness…’Nice girls do not get the corner office’ she concluded.
- Hire the best team for the job. Jo Rzymowska, MD for UK and Ireland at Celebrity Cruises, suggested that it is crucial for women to lead a diverse team and that team diversity is more important to the leader than recruiting the right person for the job. Great Goals are achieved through great teams, thus it is essential that the ‘sum of the parts’ becomes bigger than the individual components if we are to succeed in business. We need to recruit from a wider pool, from a least-obvious pool, in order to incorporate a wide variety of skills, background, gender, races and perspectives to create the ‘winning team’.
- Emotional Intelligence is a critical aspect of leadership. It was also said that women generally demonstrate great EI traits but to be a great leader emotional intelligence has to be used in an authentic, non-manipulative way. Authenticity, with passion and tenacity, were identified as key leadership traits.
- Mentoring, networking and role models were identified as very important tools for women. ‘The more women there are in leadership roles, the more inspirational role models there will be’ said Julia Lo Bue, MD of the Advantage Travel Partnership. Women leaders must identify young women and support them through their career journey.
- To achieve great leadership positions women have to help themselves. This also means gaining greater knowledge, learning all the time. Knowledge supports self-confidence and self-esteem and helps build our reputation, thus never stop learning!
These lessons in resilience and leadership are highly applicable in my opinion and potentially valid for most if not all industries. What are your views and what is your experience as women leaders? Share your view with me by leaving a comment below or writing to me, thank you!