This April, the Art of Leadership for Women Conference welcomed a diverse mix of female-identifying Torontonians in a day of inspiration, truth, and knowledge-sharing. Female leaders from around the world shared their incredible experiences, all of whom have uniquely inspiring career and life journeys.
Over 2,500 dreamers, change agents, feminists, activists, and business owners entered the conference auditorium in Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre, all eager to learn more about leading for change.While participants and speakers shared tonnes of rich information, we’ve highlighted our key takeaways for aspiring female leaders to keep in mind:
Leadership lessons from a boss
The Honourable Rona Ambrose is a powerful force in Canada. As a women’s rights activist, the former Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, and the Conservative Party of Canada, she’s had her share of lessons in politics and the media, which have greatly impacted her values and decisions. In brief:
- There are no shortcuts. Success requires lots of hard work.
- Be inclusive. Diverse teams create better results.
- Take risks. Be vulnerable and try new things. What’s the worst that can happen?
Ambrose also spoke about the potential power of unity, if women in leadership roles were to combine their powers. She highlighted how female leaders build up each others’ confidence, especially when they connect in industries and environments where they aren’t well represented traditionally.
“Women supporting women is the most effective way to empower.”~ The Hon. Rona Ambrose
You’re in control of your development
Advisor and Leadership Activist Tammy Heermann continued this theme of power, reminding attendees that their power can be magnified among other powerful women, and that it truly lies within. She says women should stay focused on taking full control of their current mindset, and their future development.
“Believe that there are no barriers to your advancement.We have a lot more control than we think.” ~ Tammy Heermann
Know yourself, and others
Bestselling author, academic, and public speaker Annie McKee, PhD spoke about the importance of being in control of your emotions, and applying this skill to interpersonal relationships. Bringing emotional intelligence into the workplace creates balanced environments, and is a key differentiator among leaders.
“If you want to master emotional intelligence and leadership,focus on your strengths.”~ Annie McKee
Time waits for no one
Author, blogger, and public speaker Laura Vanderkam delivered a humorous and thought-provoking talk on time management and intensive planning. Her suggestions to make the best out of every waking moment include:
- Think in terms of weeks, and categorize.
- Front-load your agenda because stuff gets in the way.
- Set an alarm before bed to get to a task.
Executive panel on inclusivity
Representatives from Scotiabank, PwC, Cossette, and Plan International Canada discussed the hot topic of inclusivity in the workplace. According to the panelists, there is still much work to be done to see universal and lasting change.
“We still have 102 million girls who have never stepped into a classroom because they are girls. It’s not enough to have equality in Canada, we need it to be widespread.”~ Caroline Risboro, Plan International
The panel also agreed that diverse workplaces should be ‘grown organically’ and not a tokenistic casting call aiming to achieve a visual array of employees. If handled appropriately, diverse organizations can reap considerable economic and creative benefits.
“It’s less about meeting the requirements of being diverse, and more about filling a role with the most capable person. That can be a woman,” said Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer at Scotiabank.
Finally, the moment every attendee patiently waited for—a chance to listen to Nobel Peace Prize Winner, education activist, and bestselling author Malala Yousafzai.
Years after overcoming a bullet wound, Yousafzai stands strong, campaigning for the right of every child to attend school. She encouraged women to stand firm for their rights and never censor themselves in times of opposition.Yousafzai also shared her experiences as a young female during a time of life and career transitions, attending the University of Oxford, and working to improve the quality of life for students in her hometown.
“I want Canada to be a champion of providingstellar education for girls.”~ Malala Yousafzai
The Art of Leadership for Women Conference left a heavy imprint in the hearts of the attendees. We hope this inspires everyone to use their voice, their skills, and their passion to make a difference in the world.