Exploring what leadership means for me

4 November 2014

Karan and Brooke Oct

Foreground: Current Diploma students Karan and Brooke.

When I was given the opportunity to study for my She Leads Diploma of Management, I was over the moon.

Despite having worked as a manager previously, I’d never been comfortable in the role. I thought this was my chance to gain the skills and knowledge needed to give me that sense of credibility and confidence I felt I’d been lacking.

On day one of the course, I discovered a name for that insecurity I’d felt in the past: ‘imposter syndrome’. I was thrown into those previous management roles with little or no training or support – real sink or swim stuff – so it was really no surprise that I’d felt like I didn’t belong in those jobs!

Enrolling in the She Leads Diploma was a way to rid myself of that insecurity, and gain the management skills and knowledge that I needed to feel capable, and credible, in a management situation, I thought.

Just two sessions in, and I’ve already discovered that I was both right and wrong about that.

I’ve learned that I had management skills all along, I just didn’t realise that’s what they were. And I’ve also discovered that having all the skills and training in the world will not take away those ‘imposter’ feelings – in the course, we’ve discovered that even some of the most accomplished women who have come as panelists still sometimes feel like they are ‘faking it’! Overcoming those feelings is less about what you know and more about your level of confidence, your self-talk, and getting up and going again when circumstances push you down.

As we learnt on day one of the course, it’s common for women to undervalue our skills and not see them as transferable. I had coordinated projects as a freelance writer and editor but didn’t see that as project management. I’d dealt with staffing issues in various roles but didn’t see that as HR management. I’ve now realised that what I saw as just the ‘stuff’ you do in order to get the job done were tangible skills that I had acquired.

Through participating in the She Leads Diploma, I’m learning to own those skills and value them. I’m also learning that there isn’t just one way to be a leader, there are many ways. Each of us in the Diploma course are different with varied experiences; we will all lead or manage differently, but that’s just fine.

Of course, I’m only a fraction of the way into the course and there is still MUCH to learn – but all ready I know that enrolling in the She Leads Diploma has benefited me enormously.

Some of the highlights have included:

  • When panelist Tjanara Goreng Goreng shared her personal story with us on day one, from being a little black girl in a white school, to being an Elder and academic now. I was moved when she sang us a blessing at the end
  • Gai Brodtmann, Federal MP, shared some of what keeps her strong in the tough world of politics, such as: being guided by a moral compass; building up resilience in response to failures; being bold and opinionated; seeking out and seizing opportunity; and leading a big and bold life
  • Learning the ‘Wonder Woman’ stance and its practical applications (ask me if you’d like to know more!)
  • Getting to know my fellow students, who come from a diverse range of backgrounds. By sharing our own stories, we all learn so much
  • Oh, and the beautiful venue at EY! Floor to ceiling windows that look south towards the Brindabellas, and gorgeous food to keep us sustained during such full days.

The She Leads Diploma of Management is a nationally certified course, delivered monthly over nine dynamic full-day classes, including: seminars, practical exercises with case studies and role plays, personal development sessions, and peer coaching. To find out more or enrol for the next course, starting February 2015, visit www.ywca-canberra.org.au/education-training.


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