Institute Fellow Testimonial: Leadership Development Week
Throughout my career I have seen learning and development as an important personal priority. I am truly passionate about entering a room and obtaining at least one to two key learnings to help advance my thinking. When I entered a room in September 2019 during The Executive Leadership Council’s Strengthen the Pipeline program, a part of Leadership Development Week (LDW), I had no idea that my life would be forever changed. The person I was before I entered the room no longer exists. What changed in this short time frame? While there were many changes, if I could pick just one thing, I must say it was self-awareness – specifically understanding and accepting myself.
For many years I believed I needed to be someone else to advance my career. Perhaps this lack of confidence came from years of experiencing micro-aggressions that many Black women and people of color face on almost a daily basis. I questioned how I showed up each day feeling overly stressed about acceptance throughout my career.
On the first day of at the Strengthen the Talent Pipeline West program, I discovered something that forever changed my perspective. I was not alone. Each person went around the room shared a similar story of how they were made to feel like they were crazy or overthought how they needed to fit in. The faculty taught us that, yes, creating a lack of confidence for people of color exists, but do not let it define you. Acknowledge it and move on.
An additional perspective I gained during this leadership development program was my need for a psychologically safe environment to be successful. The ELC’s ability to create such a safe space so that vulnerable conversations could take place was an experience which I have never had in all of the training classes I have attended. My initial experience carried over each day and provided me with the opportunity to connect with others who had similar challenges. It also allowed me to open up and reflect on my childhood, which provided me with important insights into who I am and why I feel the way I do. I discovered how my resilience came into existence. This increased self-awareness allowed me to start my discovery into greater self-acceptance.
As I left LDW, I had so many “ah ha” moments and learnings that I could take back to my company. I knew it was time for me to act. First, I needed to analyze the information. I took some time to reflect and document my learnings and, more importantly, created strategic priorities for the business that I support. Next, I shared my learnings with my manager and multiple stakeholders across the company. By doing this, I was able to amplify my personal story and position my capabilities to confidently offer solutions to help the company. This was noticed immediately, and I have continued this approach since LDW. I am extremely proud to say within six months, I was promoted to Director, Diversity and Inclusion. It is truly amazing how just five days forever changed my life!