A Recap from The WomEn’s Leadership Forum presented by Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce
We had the honor of attending the 9th annual Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce WomEn’s Leadership Forum, where over 200 women and men came together to energize, educate, and empower women. It was a time of inspiration, networking, and encouraging every woman to be a leader. The fact is simple: every woman can be a leader and her own change agent in the world. So, what defines a leader? Is it someone who leads a team of people? A stay at home mom? A small business owner? This conference reminded us that women can be leaders regardless of their title. We were fortunate to have Nancy M. Dahl as our keynote speaker, who encouraged every woman in the room to strive for a fully integrated life, rather than a “balanced” life. She highlighted the five circles of life, which are work, play, relationships, learning, and spirituality & mindfulness. The best part is YOU, the leader of your life, get to decide how big each circle is and make room for what matters most. We become the best leaders we can be when we are building community, leading fearlessly, and following our passions.
Below are key points made during the Forum that stood out as actionable advice:
Building CommunityCreate authentic professional connections beyond the LinkedIn screen
- When you build authentic connections, you don’t just know their title, you know their story
- Challenge yourself to make new connections in person, connect over coffee, and turn a digital connection into an authentic one
- Connect with people in different industries; use the passion they have in their industry to fuel passion in your own
Prioritize your relationships at home
- Lead by example by spending quality time with your family and friends
- As a leader, support what your co-workers and employees are trying to accomplish in their home life
- Be conscious about filling your calendar, making sure you prioritize what’s important to you and your family while being mindful of managing your stress
Pay it forward in your community
- Find an organization to volunteer with that you’re passionate about
- Put your interests on LinkedIn; people will connect with you because of your similar interests and will know who you really are
- Exemplify servant leadership wherever you go, whether it’s with your employees, co-workers, or the people behind you in the drive-thru
Leading FearlesslyDon’t let FEAR affect your leading
This powerful acronym was shared with us, encouraging us all to lead without fear of failure:
- Remember that failure is a part of your success story as it helps you learn
- Lead with passion rather than fear, never afraid to fail
- Be brave and cut your own path rather than following in someone else’s tracks
Be the leader you wish you had
- Be a visionary leader, one that can see a vision without letting the budget affect a dream
- Encourage constructive criticism to be given and received respectfully
- Have a heart for those you’re leading and be approachable
Lead with a flexible plan
- Set the tone that you want to see in your organization
- Remember that moving forward is progress even if it wasn’t on your exact time schedule
- Lead with a plan knowing that there may be unpredictable changes ahead
Following Your PassionsFind your passion & do it
- Intention matters: Where can you do your best work?
- Find what makes you awesome and go become a part of it
- If you’re lucky, work won’t feel so much like work
Create your mission statement
- Remember you are more than a job title and more than the results from a Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment
- Practice what you would write on your nametag to explain who you are
- Create a mission statement for all areas of your life
Never stop learning
- Life is about trying new things and starting new things
- You can read about anything but it’s not until we do something new that we really learn
- Always debrief after an experience by asking yourself the following questions
- What makes you proud?
- What did you learn?
- What could you optimize?
- What do you need next?
And finally, we were reminded of this: You being you is your greatest superpower. It’s never too late to start doing what you love. Be grounded in what brings you joy. As women, we must come together to build one another up in community to encourage building authentic relationships both personally and professionally, exemplifying fearless leadership, and infiltrating your passion into every area of your life. Once that becomes routine, we become true leaders.