HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Well here it is… my final message as WEDC President. I have been very humbled to be given this opportunity to lead this group of accomplished women. Thank you to all who have been reading my monthly message and a special thanks to those of you who have reached out to me to give your feedback and told me how much you enjoyed it. I truly appreciate it... hmmm.... maybe there is a blog in my future? One never knows what the future may hold which is why I love the start of a new year. We have time to reflect, think of new possibilities, plan, and start with a clean slate.
At our last December training session Lane Fabby walked us through a review of our year of Good to Great. She highlighted the main points from each chapter reminding us what we should have taken away from all of our wonderful speakers. Then we all did an exercises at our tables. We had to list things we want to STOP doing for 2015. Many found this was not an easy thing to do. We have been trained to set goals of things we want to do, not the things we don’t want to do. It gave us a different perspective. After the meeting I took a look at some of the things you shared and here is a summary of things that seem to resonate with many of us. We want to STOP making excuses, stop apologizing, stop procrastinating, stop being inefficient, stop trying to do it all, stop taking people/things for granted, stop being afraid of trying/achieving success, stop not speaking up and not using our voice, stop expecting things to happen on their own, stop being a perfectionist, stop getting stressed, stop overcommitting, stop eating sweets…(okay I know you didn’t mean that last one). For WEDC many of you shared that you want to stop putting WEDC last, stop missing meetings/events, stop being apathetic, stop non participation, stop sitting next to those you know well and stop eating the dessert (uh-huh). These are all good goals and just thing of how empowered we can be individually and as a group if we can stop doing these things!
Now I would like to take us through the WEDC journey from Good to Great. It is a hard journey, we may never actually meet our destination of greatness, but we should try. The first line in the book says " Good is the enemy of Great", since its inception WEDC has been good and we have certainly had moments of greatness. But it is important to continually strive for greatness.
1) It starts with the Level 5 leader. This is a position we ALL must continue to strive for though we may never individually reach the status of a level 5 leader. They are few and far between. Level 5 leaders possess personal humility & professional will. They are modest and display an unrelenting diligence. They are fanatically driven to the success of the organization and strive to set up their successors for even greater success in the next generation. I SO want to be a level 5 leader. But that is the paradox, because I want to be one, I never will be one, because level 5 leaders don’t do it for themselves. Everything they do is for others and the organization without any thought for themselves.
2) First Who, then What. It is important to have the right people on the bus. That is why several years ago when we realized that our members were getting older (sorry but it’s a fact) and good portion of our group was retired we knew we needed to take action. We also noticed we were losing just as many members as were being brought in. So we started focusing on having high quality events and a recruiting effort looking for the best and brightest to bring into the organization. Membership is by INVITATION ONLY and guess what, not everyone should become a member. We encourage guests to come to meetings because we are putting on awesome learning events and want to share it with as many women (and a few good men) as possible. A person should join because they share our passion of our mission. If we have the right people we don’t have to motivate them, they will be self-motivated because we share the passion toward the mission
3) Confront the brutal facts. Ok this is always hard and it may make a couple of people mad, but here are a few insights into the organization we need to be aware of:
WE ALL ARE BUSY.
THERE IS NO “I” IN WEDC.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE LUNCH. The leadership training committee is works hard to put on monthly learning opportunities of high caliber to help develop our members and guests to become great leaders/business women.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE.
4) The Hedgehog Concept. This is a simple concept that flows from deep understanding and the intersection of 3 things: Passion, Strengths, and Need. So let’s look at our mission. “The WEDC is a group of women business professionals who provide opportunities to women for leadership and economic development through education, mentoring and networking. The WEDC exists to strengthen the position of women in business and the community.” Is this something we are all passionate about? I hope there was a resounding “YES!” Are we good at it? I think the leadership conference was a pretty good indication we can be really good at it. Is there a need in the community? That was the question put to us a few years ago. Women have come a long way over the last 20 years, are we still relevant? Here are some thoughts. Women will always face challenges unique to women. The balance between work and family is much more prevalent to a woman. Salary disparities still abound, there is still a lack of women representing consumers at board tables, though facts show women make up a majority of consumers. And we do have some unique health issues, I am reminded of advice Gen Barbara Fast gave at the Leadership conference, she told us to “never make a big decision while having a hot flash”. Not sure many men have to worry about that! If you look at all these things I think we can say there will always be a need for a group dedicated to the needs and development of women in leadership positions. I think we got the Hedgehog concept!
5) Culture of discipline. Ok this can be a struggle. Because I was curious I asked Lane if she would to pull together a summary of all of the individual strengths of the WEDC Board from the strength assessments we took for the conference, thinking it would be a good representation of our group as a whole and we might learn something about ourselves. The results were very interesting. Almost everyone has ACHEIVER as one of their top 5 strengths. Not surprising there. Do you know how many had DISCIPLINE as a strength? NONE. Yep, no one has discipline as a strength. We are a group of strong-minded, intelligent, high achieving women who don’t like being told what to do. But Good to Great is not about bureaucracy, setting up rules, attendance requirements and must do lists. It is more about sharing a common mission and passion for it and staying in the boundaries of what we are good at and meeting the need. In everything we do we must go back to the mission and ask the question “Does this support our mission of education, mentoring and networking to strengthen the position of women in the community.” If we each do this we will stay on task.
6) Technology Accelerators. This is the last piece of the Good to Great Flywheel. We didn’t spend much time on this topic but it is an important piece of the future of the organization. Good to Great points out that technology must work within the mission and must be used as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. The momentum must already be there. Many of us recall the days when people had to phone or fax in their reservation and then the difficulty we had converting people to use email, then the difficulty of converting everyone to go register and pay online. We don’t like change. WEDC does not need to be a leader in technology but if we want to continue to attract up and coming women executives we need to at least stay up-to date. The #1 complaint on the leadership conference surveys were the technical issues we had to deal with. We still struggle with maintaining a website and getting people to use it. We still struggle with how to communicate and keep everyone “in the loop” without loading inboxes with email. Is there a WEDC APP in our future?
All of these things have to come together week after week, month after month. It is a flywheel that needs continuous pushing to keep it going. It can be tiresome at times. We have got a lot of momentum going as we enter 2015. Let’s keep it going. Let’s support Leigh Christian and her board and they take over the steering wheel. There is already a full calendar planned. No, we will not sponsor a conference in 2015. We need time to regroup and reenergize. A conference of that high caliber needs two years of preplanning. But we do have wonderful training programs lined up and wonderful social, networking and mentoring events planned. Come to the January 15th meeting to hear all about it and to get the dates on your calendar!
In summary I would like to quote Jim Collins. The last paragraph of the book Good to Great says it all…
“When all these pieces come together not only does your work move toward greatness but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HERE’S TO A GREAT 2015!!