Written by Hilary Strath
When is the last time you felt so inspired that you wanted to stop right in the middle of something to chase a dream? Beyond: Lead Through Action was a conference put on by YWiB that at numerous times made you want to run out to try a new strategy with your team, apply for the ‘unattainable’ job or pursue your passion. A room full of ambitious, curious and fun women (and some men!) spent November 19th engaging with well-known leaders in the community and learning applicable skills, all while making valuable connections with people from different fields. With an incredible line up with speakers, panelists and workshops, there were a lot of takeaways. Here are some of the ways the attendees learned to uncover leadership skills:
You need a sponsor, not just a mentor
Tracy Austin, keynote and senior manager, retail distribution, Tangerine, said that becoming a leader is as much about learning from others as it is finding someone who you can rely on to pick up the phone (or write a LinkedIn referral) and vouch for you. These days you need more than a mentor, you need a sponsor.
Heather White, CEO, 2020 Communications and one of the panelists during the conference, furthered this thought saying that a mentor or sponsor can be anyone—even if they are younger than you.
Don’t be afraid to take a non-traditional path
Interspersed between the workshops, Amanda Colligne, Raymond James, John Chan, Dayboard, Yvette Gray, CBSA and Heather White joined a panel, moderated by Sonia Sunger from Global BC, to answer questions from the group.
Each of these individuals carved out their own path, oftentimes going against advice from their peers and family (John quit school, Yvette opted out of law school after getting accepted, Heather started her own business and Amanda changed careers from journalism to accounting). Their collective advice? Don’t limit yourself and take calculated risks.
The three workshops helped develop different skills, but continuing to learn and ask questions was a common theme of good leaders discussed in all the sessions. Keith Ippel, Spring, believes that the difference between managers and leaders is doing things right and doing the right things, and this is something you need to learn as you change environments.
Jess Tang, motivational speaker, who lead a session on speaking like a leader wants people to be genuinely curious--leaders don’t always know all the answers and can learn from their teams when things are questioned.
Sarah Khalil, who developed Where Stars Go, demonstrated in an interactive workshop that you need to do more than just say your vision out loud, you need to commit to it, plot your next milestone, and then learn how to be adaptable along the way.
Keith Ippel suggested everyone take a break far away every 6 months. Yvette Gray confessed that she loves her job, and she enjoys working long hours, but she still makes sure to have other things in life to ground her.
Beyond: Lead Through Action even had a break: Melanie Levenburg of DancePl3y came out and hosted the greatest mid-day dance-party-energizer session the conference room at the Sandman has ever seen! After high-fiving 100 fierce individuals, the sense of community was high and all the more eager to sink their teeth into the rest of the day.
Show up, every day
Brandi Halls, brand communications director, Lush and closing keynote, credits luck for bringing her and Lush together in the first place, but knows her hard work and dedication got her to where she is today—she discovered what she was good at and worked on being great at it every day.
Showing up is about speaking up in meetings, hiring up when there’s a skill you can’t master and above all, having fun, even if you’ve had, in her words, “a week.” And by finding work you love and showing up, you’ll develop your leadership skills and be able to commit fully to your team.
To close off the day, attendees went to the beautiful Telus Gardens to chat about highlights and connect further over a glass of wine. The room was bursting with energy and eager to put new skills to use. We can’t wait to do it all again next year!