The Art of Leadership Women: Helping Women Advance and Flourish in their Careers

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The Art of Leadership

Members of the SCWIST team recently spent the day learning about the topics and trends most critical to women leaders at The Art of Leadership Women Conference.

From Vancouver to Toronto, SCWIST Leadership, Policy and Advocacy Committee, and STEM Streams team enjoyed meeting Lisa LaFlamme at the Art of Leadership events in June.

The event speakers were from various industries, including law, medicine, negotiations in business, and journalism. They shared their best tips and resources on how to leverage your value, elevate your skills and develop the strategies required to take your leadership and career to the next level.  Over 1,800 women attended the sold-out event, truly showcasing that women are no longer interested in accepting the status quo and are keen to learn from those that have excelled in the workplace.

“They’re rising up, breaking through, pushing the boundaries and carving their own paths,” summarized host Bill Williams. 

Inspiring women

The first speaker of the day was Ritu Bhasin, a lawyer, bestselling author, authenticity advocate, and internationally recognized expert in leadership, workplace culture, inclusion, and belonging.

Ritu Bhasin speaks at The Art of Leadership Women conference.

Ritu spoke on how bringing your authentic self to work can create happier, more productive teams and organizations. 

“Leaders have the responsibility to cultivate belonging in the workplace,” she said, explaining how authenticity is the practical antidote to exclusionary work cultures, and how it will help to unlock the power of differences for more inclusion, empowerment, and innovation within your organization.

Negotiating power

Fotini Iconomopoulous spoke next. Nicknamed “the negotiator” since childhood, Fotini is an expert communicator whose work centers on helping organizations and individuals get what they want. 

Fotini Iconomopoulous explains the power of negotiation.

She also spoke on understanding the power of pause, uncovering opportunities, and how to shift your mindset from conflict to conversation during a negotiation. In closing, she shared her tips on how to become a more effective communicator and influential leader, noting, “As leaders, it’s important to protect relationships and get the best deal that ensures we’re not leaving anything on the table,” 

Adapting for success

Next was Dr. Shimi Kang, an award-winning medical doctor, researcher, and expert on the neuroscience of adaptability, leadership and motivation. 

Dr. Shimi Kang speaks on how to be happier and healthier by removing stress from our lives.

“Despite all our advances [in technology], we have never been more stressed,” she said. “And this leads to burnout, disconnection and disruption. But we can remove stress with downtime, collaboration and play.”

She shared how to use simple tools to effectively deal with mental health, social anxiety, habit formation and emotional stress; and how to adapt, innovate, and tap into peak performance potentials during turmoil, uncertainty, and transition.

Leading from the heart

Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser followed with a phenomenal talk outlining her career as not only an athlete but now a physician as well. Considered one of the best female hockey players in the world, she has seven world championships, six Olympic appearances and five Olympic medals under her belt.

Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser speaks on her journey from hockey star to medical doctor.

She first spoke about the importance of always looking for improvements or opportunities on your path to greatness. “It’s one thing to be the best in the world, it’s another thing to be the best for the world,” she explained. She also shared her own leadership journey as an elite athlete, going back to university to complete a medical degree, her challenges as a resident physician and her experiences as assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

She closed her talk by examining the effects of complacency and challenged everyone to stay motivated and find inspiration.

Coming back stronger

The final speaker of the day was the one many were waiting for – Lisa LaFlamme.

Having spent the past 30 years traveling the globe and delivering breaking news, Lisa has interviewed major newsmakers, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Princes while always keeping the spotlight on the injustices that plague the world’s most oppressed. She is also the recipient of 12 Canadian Screen Awards, consecutive RTDNA awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award for broadcasting and journalism and is a member of the Order of Canada.

Host Bill Williams and Lisa LaFlamme discuss the highs and lows of her exemplary career.

Her conversation with host Bill Williams focused on adversity, chance and confidence – fitting subjects for a woman whose chosen career was in a historically male-dominated industry.  Lisa shared stories about performing under pressure during her time moving from conflict zone to disaster zone as she delivered coverage of hurricanes, earthquakes and climate crises, including Southeast Asia in the wake of the deadly 2005 tsunami and Japan’s devastating nuclear emergency in 2011.

And finally, she spoke on coping with change, not shying away from discussing her abrupt termination from Bell Media. 

“In perspective, I looked at my situation and knew it was something I could come back from.. and that in these situations, you have to come back stronger.”

And come back stronger she has. LaFlamme received a standing ovation from the crowd before she even began her talk, truly highlighting her status as a woman within a personal renaissance. 

Her infectious energy and optimism quickly spread to the crowd – as it had from all the speakers – and it felt as if the day had ended all too soon. 

Women and allies, uplifting other women, with shared strategies and insights on some of the most critical issues facing our world today – it was truly a valuable opportunity to learn, network and champion change. 

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