President & Co-owner of 10th Dimension Leadership Coaching & Consulting LLC, Director of Olivet College Women's Leadership Institute.
Research shows that exposing young women to positive leadership messages early and often is critical to their success. This increases their understanding of how to make informed decisions about their futures as potential leaders. Not to mention the fact that, the more diverse a company’s leadership team is, the more profitable the company becomes.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership means having a high level of self-awareness, a strong desire to mentor others and a positive influence by embodying authentic leadership qualities.
Who has influenced your idea of leadership?
I have been fortunate enough to have several influential leaders in my life, but the one who has had the biggest impact on me is Martha Mertz, founder of ATHENA International and author of the book “Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.” These eight principles are the ways in which women lead. The principles are: Live Authentically, Learn Constantly, Build Relationships, Foster Collaboration, Act Courageously, Advocate Fiercely, Give Back and Celebrate.
Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What do they add to the table?
Women innately have traits that are essential to becoming strong leaders. The key is understanding, embracing and maximizing their unique strengths and attributes. And, the more women we have in leadership roles, the more role models and “Ment-Hers” girls and young women have. Research shows that exposing young women to positive leadership messages early and often is critical to their success. This increases their understanding of how to make informed decisions about their futures as potential leaders. Not to mention the fact that, the more diverse a company’s leadership team is, the more profitable the company becomes. Diversity both in culture and gender will improve a company’s performance. In a recent report by Penn Medicine, the study showed that men could be wired to take action, generally, while women may tend to be better suited to carefully analyze a problem. Bringing in this diversity supports company efforts and allows for a wide range of opinions and views in the workplace.
How are you leading in your career/community?
It has been an honor to serve as the executive director of the Women’s Leadership Institute and presidential spouse at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. I also serve on the ATHENA International Board of Directors, and in 2018, I was honored as an ATHENA Leadership Award recipient for my dedication to developing women leaders. I stand on the shoulders of all the amazing women leaders that came before me and currently surround me. No accomplishment is ever achieved alone, and it takes a village. I am most proud of being a part of such a strong woman-led team at Olivet College where we have created a culture of women supporting women.
At Olivet College, we have initiated and directed a movement to address the gender gap in the workforce by launching our Women’s Leadership Institute. We have created a host of women’s leadership programs including the Keyes-Barber-Benedict Scholars Program, the Cultivating Women Leaders Speaker Series, the OC ATHENA International Yearlong Women’s Leadership Program, and the OC ATHENA International Middle School and High School Girls’ Leadership Camps. In just three years, these programs have positively impacted over 1,000 girls and young women. We are the only college in the country doing what we are doing and impacting girls and young women from middle school through college.
This entire experience has inspired me to start my own business, and now I am the president and owner of 10th Dimension Leadership Coaching and Consulting LLC, which has a core focus on the leadership development of collegiate women athletic teams. I administer a personal motivation and needs assessment, which builds team cohesion, trust and leadership development skills. The assessment also assists coaches with enhancing player performance and improving their recruitment practices, thus inspiring increased self-awareness with their players, building self-confidence and encouraging players to embrace their authentic selves and their unique leadership qualities.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We need to start early! As young women enter the workforce, a dramatically different playing field emerges. Girls are not encouraged to take risks, which can negatively impact their internal dialogue, confidence and ambition. While boys are consistently encouraged to be assertive and take risks and expected to be leaders, young girls are discouraged by societal norms to take such actions.
In a recent article by “The Atlantic,” outcomes from the YPulse study, surveying over 1,300 girls ages 8 to 18, found that many young girls were confident and “gutsy and full of fire” when younger. However, as they entered their teens, self-confidence took a steep nosedive! The once confident young women became timid versions of their former selves. They struggled with body image issues, making new friends, acting courageously, taking on leadership roles and speaking up for themselves.
In addition, the study also revealed that these teen girls set impossibly high standards for themselves and stated that they believed they were not allowed to fail. The study also highlighted the girls’ perceptions of how society treats men differently than women, which has shown to negatively impact their confidence. It was found that in their efforts to please everyone, achieve more and follow rules, these young girls were actually nurturing many self-defeating traits that, in the end, would cause them to struggle. Perhaps the most disturbing finding was that social media exponentially increases social stresses through constant condemnation or praise.
With these findings in mind, it is imperative to help young women shift away from the old paradigm to a new paradigm of how they think and view themselves. They must learn to embrace their own unique leadership qualities and find their own inner voice. In these practices, young women will find a new sense of self-awareness and confidence that will lead to greater success in all areas of life. More importantly, we must inspire young women to practice self-love and self-care, be more courageous, take more risks and, after seeing positive results, continue building upon and applying these newly developed behaviors. In turn, these practices will reinforce their capacity to face their fears, pursue their passions and overcome all obstacles.
What is the best way for someone to contact you?
Michigan ATHENA is a program dedicated to developing, supporting, and honoring women leaders throughout Michigan. This program is part of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiatives. To find out more about this program please visit us at www.michamber.com/ATHENA
If you have any questions or would like to nominate someone to be featured in our #LeadLikeAWoman series please email me at email@example.com