|YWomen Lead: Learning Together article|
by Suzanne Wood
I first learned about the YWomen Lead program at YWCA Madison’s Moxie Conference in May 2015. The topics discussed at Moxie are very near to my heart and, while I feel passionate about the growth and engagement of women to continue our strides towards equality in the workplace, this is work everyone needs to take seriously in order to continue our progress in America.
When I learned of this opportunity to develop my leadership skills and learn from other women, I was immediately interested. My goals for this program, as every day, are to strengthen my personal development with the hopes to bring what I learn to other women and colleagues who are striving to do the same. I hope to improve my professional and personal vision and learn more about my passions in life. I am excited to explore self-improvement opportunities and to do this in the company of other driven women in our community.
Typically, our mental and emotional concern only extends to those in our comfort circles. This program provides women from all walks of life a place to intersect and learn from one another.
In this world of rising competition and increasing haste, I often feel the best way to encourage others to become engaged in their lives is to lead by example. This is part of what it means to be a leader, rather than a manager, which are roles that can often become confused. To develop these skills, one must gain knowledge and access to resources, because just talking about developing one’s skills isn’t enough. While I am not one that has a crisp vision of what I am striving to become, I am very excited about the speakers and topics the program has put together. I hope to develop my vision, to explore my passion, or at least to gather new tools to continue on these soul-searching paths. I've enjoyed learning more about my cohort members: what makes them who they are, what experiences have shaped them and how we can help one another in our paths to success—no matter what that looks like for each of us. Together we can support and guide one another to become better community members.
As our sessions come to a close, I think back to the varied speakers and topics we covered. I didn’t even realize how much I was learning, partly because it is such a fun and energizing environment. Mostly, I believe it was because of the format. One example that stands out for me was the “Marketing Your Strengths” session, presented by Sabrina Madison. I was very much looking forward to this because I have struggled with this idea. Turns out, I was over-thinking it! The activities at the session were wonderful to help me identify how others see me, and how I can hone in on my strengths as my brand. While soul-searching is a constant, this helped me to better understand the pieces I was missing and to think small.
In hindsight, some of our discussions were a bit more difficult during the September and October sessions, but as our group grew together, our openness also matured. Most days, it felt as though we didn’t have enough time to learn from one another but I hope to continue my contacts with these wonderful leaders. Our group created a Facebook page, so we can stay in communication and offer virtual support. Our goal is to use the page to continue our connections even beyond this 2015-2016 series journey. Cheers to these amazing women I have met along the way, and to our successes as we carry on with our paths!
The next YWomen Lead cohort begins in late 2016. Sign up to be notified when applications are available.