Through my old job, I was enrolled in the Athena NextGen Thought Leadership Series of 2015. It was an eight month, eight session series where we learned about the pillars of leadership from a woman’s perspective. I told my male bosses that while I love learning leadership from them, they, being guys, can take on different styles that would not be the best approach for a woman. And all of the leadership books they ever had me read were written by men. So, I felt a little bit of a gender void and craved something more. Athena was very satisfying.
I learned about Athena through the last #BizWomen event (yes, I’ve been slacking because no, I haven’t written a blog post about the event and it happened last March… it’ll be a good one though when I do!). I got so excited that I applied that day when I got back to the office.
There were about fifty ladies from all types of businesses looking for new women leadership insights and looking for friends who will be future women leaders. We had very refreshing conversations about the importance of leadership and how women can take different approaches to remain authentic when taking on new roles and responsibilities.
The eight leadership principles we discussed during our sessions were:
- Live Authentically
- Build Relationships
- Give Back
- Foster Collaboration
- Act Courageously
- Learn Constantly
- Advocate Fiercely
Our last session we all sat in smaller groups and recapped a few of the pillars and how our thoughts have adjusted based on what we learned. My group focused on three: Learning Constantly, Acting Courageously, and Building Relationships.
We discussed which books/movies we read/saw recently that helped us gain perspective. I picked Shogun because I liked the Samurai mental process of compartmentalizing jobs/tasks and truly dedicating time to think on each thing, instead of multi-tasking. When you are focusing on one thing, you have to put the others away because it’s not time to worry about them, and it was also a good reminder that you can’t worry about things in which you cannot control. One lady in the group mentioned that the movie Bridge of Spies also has an underlying tone of not worrying about what you can’t control. Another mentioned BIGLAW: A Novel, a story that she felt would be a good book for all seasoned women lawyers to read because it brings you back to how you felt and how you were treated when you were in your twenties as a young lawyer. It should help you be a better mentor to young women lawyers because you unblock those memories of how crazy it really was. And if you weren’t a high powered lawyer in New York, but you enjoyed The Devil Loves Prada, you should like the book, too. Another book that everyone agreed was excellent brain food is Outliers.
Throughout this year I’m going to be adding more thoughts on how amazing Athena was and what I learned and more recaps on our final session. It was so great to get to learn from and with so many strong, powerful, intelligent women!