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When you get 900+ women leaders together for a week of self-discovery and reflection, inspiring things happen. Over four days in Phoenix, AZ, we heard from illuminating keynote speakers, made new connections that will last a lifetime, and gained countless new insights to help each of us uncover what’s next.

We’ve compiled three of the most inspiring moments from this year’s Women in Leadership Institute™ below–and we want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

We were inspired by the stories and accomplishments of women veterans.

It is truly meaningful when women leaders come together in collaboration to share their unique experiences and perspectives. That’s exactly what happens each year at #LinkageWIL as women from the private sector, non-profits, military, and more, come together for four days of exploration and self-discovery. This year, the Institute kicked-off on Veterans Day and I had the privilege of acknowledging a cohort of veterans participating in the Institute through our partnership with the Homefront Foundation.

You used your voice—and we loved hearing what you had to say.

The Institute means something different to each individual who attends. For some, it represents the opportunity to unplug from the regular day-to-day grind to focus solely on personal and professional development. For others, it’s a time to hear new ideas, adjust perspectives, and gain a new lease on life. Above all, it’s a time for reflection and empowerment. From snapshots and stories on Instagram, to great points on Twitter, and takeaway blogs on LinkedIn, your voices came to life on-site–and online. (In fact, we were so impressed with the social media insights that we gave awards to three of our favorites: Leila Benitez from Medtronic, Alicia Jessip from TEKsystems, and Kiersten Downs, Ph.D., from the Homefront Foundation.)

We discovered what “QTIP” really means.

Carla Harris led a panel discussion with this year’s recipients of Linkage’s Women in Leadership Executive Impact Award. This year’s honorees shared their own personal stories of growth and discovery—and a few memorable lessons that they’ve learned along the way. One moment we won’t soon forget? Millie Marshall, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, pulled out a small and unexpected prop… a box of Q-tips. On the big screens, we could see the words “Q-tip” printed on the side… a reminder, Millie explained with a smile, to “Quit Taking It Personal.” Now, that’s a “tip” we can take to the bank!

Now that you’ve had time to reflect, tell us: What most inspired you during your time at #LinkageWIL? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Since 1999, Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™ (WIL), a four-day immersive learning experience, has equipped more than 10,000 women with actionable strategies to overcome the seven hurdles women often face in the workplace. Follow #LinkageWIL for insights from center stage.

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During Day 3 of Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™, we unpacked an incredible amount of meaningful and game-changing information.

If you haven’t checked out the conversation on social media, now is the time to do so! Many of our attendees have shared what has inspired them at #LinkageWIL, and we are touched by their stories. Find us on Twitter or Instagram for an insider’s look.  

We’ve collected some of our favorite takeaways from Day 3 below. Take a peek–and if you spot something you like, be sure to share it with colleagues or friends.

And in case you missed out, we’ve got coverage from Day 1 and Day 2.

Keynote: Sandy Asch on Being Bold

Sandy Asch took the main stage to deliver a message about resilience. She encouraged all of us to discover and embody our inner lioness—our bold confidence. Sandy’s book, Roar with Purpose and Passion is the guiding principal at the San Diego Zoo. Sandy shared her perspective on how resilience is critical in today’s volatile work environments and how discovering and empowering our inner courage is imperative to advancement.
What we learned:
  • Changing the business world doesn’t require that women become more like men.
  • Do not discount yourself. Your fear of not being valued could someday cost you relationships.
  • To be Bold and influence change there are four skills you must master: 1. You must Velcro to your purpose. 2. Be radically transparent. 3. Respond, don’t react. 4. Embrace your fears and failures.
  • When you react, rather than respond it can damage relationships, lead to poor decisions and even cost you business.
  • Staying calm under pressure is a predictor of your success.
  • Velcro to your purpose—when you’re disconnected to your purpose, you disengage, you lose focus and you start to feel unfulfilled.

Competency-Based Learning: Healthy Leadership – Cultivating Well-Being for Successful Leadership

When it comes to mastering the seven hurdles to advancement, we must first start with our own well-being. In this session, we explored how our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being has a very real effect on how we lead.

We looked at ourselves honestly and gently and begin to identify ways we can be more mindful and aware of what we need in order to thrive.

What we learned:

  • If we commit to meditation and mindfulness more regularly, we will become more impactful leaders. Why? It helps our confidence, energy levels, and overall contentedness.
  • #LinkageWIL attendees shared how they take care of their spiritual health, which included journaling, shutting off the news when it becomes too much, using apps like “Calm,” and tuning into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
  • A helpful exercise for when we are feeling anxious: Stand with your feet flat on the ground. Breathe in and out and raise your arms into the air each time you inhale. Repeat until you feel centered.
  • One attendee shared how she stays mindful: She meditates for 5 minutes, makes a point to show an act of kindness, and thinks of one thing she is thankful for–every day.

Keynote: Molly Fletcher on Being Connected

Dubbed “The Female Jerry McGuire”, former sports agent Molly Fletcher shared her story of success as a powerful women leader in a male-dominated, super competitive field – the world of professional sports. In her keynote, she focused on the importance of staying Connected. Molly reminded us why we all need to embrace the opportunity to lean into change. We need to ask the tough questions, because those are the moments that we can connect. She challenged us to worry less about time and worry more about where we focus our energy and how we show up. 

What we learned: 

  • The ability to connect is imperative to win. 
  • To stay connected, we need to discover and identify the gaps inside of ourselves, but also the gaps inside the lives of the people that we serve – and the people that we lead. 
  • Who we choose to give our energy to is incredibly important to us as women. 
  • Our ability to stay relational and not get too transactional is imperative to stay connected. 
  • Take life on the rise. Show up, connect and serve the people that we lead and the people that we serve and we will do some amazing things. 

 Competency-Based Learning: Can I do this? ROAR with Resilience 

After experiencing Sandy Asch’s keynote presentation this morning, we had a lot to unpack. During this Competency-Based Learning Session, we explored our own sense of resiliency and discussed the ways we can increase that resiliency in truly meaningful ways. 

What we learned:  

  • We must generate creative ideas and deep insights to spark growth. For example, set boundaries by learning to say “no” more. Embrace your fears and manage your thoughts before you respond. Be present in the moment.  
  • Physical resilience is important too! One attendee said her goal is to focus on this type of resilience so that she doesn’t fall asleep during movie night with her kids.  
  • Consider this question: What will you adapt, adopt, and archive? For example, you can adapt some of the ideas you gained this week at WIL, adopt a brand new idea, or archive an idea you’d like to tackle at a later date. 

Panel: Executive Impact Award 

Linkage CEO, Jennifer McCollum took the stage at #LinkageWIL this afternoon to introduce and acknowledge our 2018 Executive Impact Award Winners. 

Wall Street Veteran and Co-Chair of #LinkageWIL, Carla Harris moderated the conversation on stage with all four winners. These incredible women leaders shared their insights on who inspires them, what being an authentic leader means, why proving our value is such a challenge and advice for future leaders. They were candid and forthcoming—sharing stories from their childhood, family and the professional experiences that have helped shape who they are today. 

Each one of these outstanding women leaders have encouraged and inspired women within their organizations – and in their communities. They each exemplify what it means to be a purposeful leader. 

 Our heartfelt congratulations to the 2018 award recipients:

  • Maureen MacInnis, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer and Communications, Dentsply Sirona 
  • Millie Marshall, President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI), Toyota 
  • Christina Hause, Chief Sales Officer & VP Marketing, Sales & Business Development for Commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid Markets, Kaiser Permanente 
  • Ella Kazerooni, Professor of Radiology, Professor of Internal Medicine, Associate Chair for Clinical Affairs, Director Cardiothoracic Radiology, Service Chief Diagnostic Radiology, UMich – Michigan Medicine 
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What inspires you–to be more thoughtful, courageous, bold? What inspires you be a more effective, more purposeful leader?  

It’s Day 2 here at Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™ in Phoenix, AZ, and we’re feeling inspired. We are energized by the women leaders (900+ of them!) who have come together for a journey of self-discovery and growth.  

Yesterday, we heard from some truly inspiring thinkers and thought leaders, including Susan MacKenty Brady, who introduced us to the seven hurdles facing women in the workplace (check out her new book on this topic!)–and helped us to begin to think about how to overcome them. And today, we dove into gaining clarity and seizing the moment with Christine Whelan, PhD and Simon T. Bailey.  

You can dive into the “live” experience from home or work by checking out #LinkageWIL on Twitter or Instagram, where we’re sharing in-the-moment insights from our faculty on the main stage.  

Missed our Day 1 coverage? Check out highlights 

Here’s a glimpse of Day 2: 

Keynote: Christine Whelan on Being Clear 

Christine Whelan kicked off this morning by sharing her own personal journey of self-reflection. We all have two stories to tell. A story of our success and accomplishment and a story of our fears and anxieties–both of which got us to where we are today. Christine shared her story of finding clarity in her purposeful leadership journey and provided insight on how we can bring our authentic selves to the table. She emphasized the importance of identifying our strengths and defining our values in order to find clarity–and lead with purpose. 

What we learned: 

  • Clarity itself is the first step in becoming the leader you want to be. 
  • With clarity, we can spend a lot less time running (from our demons) and a lot more time leading—on purpose. 
  • Our most beautiful visions of leadership can be utterly hijacked if we can’t tell both stories. 
  • Don’t let your fears and anxieties take the wheel of your life. If we aren’t clear who’s driving the bus, identifying our values is very difficult. 
  • When you do something not because you want to do it, but because you think you should do it, everyone suffers. 
  • When the goals you set come from the real you, they will be goals that you actually want to make happen. 

Competency-Based Learning: Do I know what I want? Leading Life on Purpose 

Our most important visions of leadership and success can be profoundly hijacked if we aren’t asking ourselves three basic questions. What matters most? (It’s not simply “happiness”.) Why does it matter? (It’s about values!) And, how do I make it happen? (It’s about making purpose-based commitments.) 

In this session, we explored these critical questions in a quest to write our own Purpose-Based Commitment. This commitment allows us to live life on purpose.  

What we learned:  

  • Your purpose is your “why”–but your goals are the how. Set action-oriented goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound. 
  • As we age, living with purpose becomes much more about saying “no” to things. And that can be hard! 
  • Ask yourself: What are your top 3 anxieties, fears, and “yeah-but’s”, that are holding you back? 

Competency-Based Learning: Mastering Your Inner Critic  

The purpose of this session is to dive deeper into the best practices for coaching our Inner Critic—that voice inside our head that is critical of ourselves and others. We need to understand why intrinsic worthiness is essential and furthermore, that confidence and worthiness are not the same thing. After a few exercises discussing our Inner Critic (Bumper Sticker Mottos: “Better Than” vs. “Less Than” & Speed Rounds: “Proactive Triggers”)—we dove into how to coach our Inner Critic by unpacking the Four Practices: 1. Become Aware, 2. Push Pause, 3. Be Compassionate, 4. Get Curious. 

What we learned: 

  • As a leader, the people who work with you and for you will react differently than you assume. Be aware that everybody has different triggers and different reactions. It starts with you. 
  • The challenge with the Inner Critic is its solitude. The subtlety is where the practice comes in.  
  • Pushing pause is difficult, because it forces you to stop reacting. 
  • Getting curious is the key to getting out of “One-Up” or “One-Down” and getting back to Compassionate Center. 

Keynote: Simon T. Bailey on Being Inspiring 

Simon Bailey had an “ah-ha moment” early in his time with Walt Disney World Resort, when he was asked to take on a role in the park he had never done before–a role he wasn’t thrilled about. Then, he met a family and connected with them in a truly meaningful way. It was in that moment that he quit his job at Disney–and went to work for Disney. Simon was able to unleash his authentic brilliance and seize the moment, an ability he says every leader should cultivate.   

What we learned: 

  • Every single person has brilliance and genius. Then… they show up to work. As a leader, it’s up to you to empower every member of your team to be their most brilliant self. 
  • Culture is not the mission statement on your company’s website. Culture happens when no one is looking.  
  • Do you know who your replacement is? You should. When you come from a place of abundance, you’re not worried about your “spot”. You say, “how will I begin to help those who come behind me?” 
  • Pay attention to your soul intelligence, because it will allow you to seize the moment.  

For more from Simon T. Bailey, dive into his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Since 1999, Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™ (WIL), a four-day immersive learning experience, has equipped more than 10,000 women with actionable strategies to overcome the seven hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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