Women with Wings: an opportunity to ‘get real’ with other female leaders

Nancy Swift

Nancy Swift

Editor’s Note: Nancy Swift is founding director of the Jefferson Economic Development Institute, JEDI, a community economic development nonprofit serving northern California. JEDI hosts a Women’s Business Center that provides business training, financial literacy training and leadership development to women seeking greater prosperity. We asked her to share her experience of attending last year’s Women with Wings Leadership Seminar. The seminar is coming for the second time in January 2019.

What drew you to the Women with Wings Leadership Seminar? I was interested in participating in a leadership weekend where I knew we would “get real” and we could be vulnerable. As an executive director of a nonprofit, I have few opportunities to be vulnerable in my leadership strengths and growth areas. I trusted Wings to create an authentic and powerful time together. I have participated with Wings for many years now and was seeking a “Wings hit” at that moment in my life.

What was your experience like? I think Women with Wings is a terrific weekend of inspiration, authenticity, and new friendships. I trusted facilitators Di (Strachan) and Sherrie (Frank) to create some intriguing and deep experiences. Meeting (La Clinica CEO and facilitator) Brenda Johnson was such a pleasure and to be mentored and nurtured as the leader I am. They do a great job supporting us to show up more, stretch, challenge limiting beliefs, and have confidence to know that what I am and what I offer is enough and just right each step I take. I really love this about Wings experiences.

What did you learn about yourself as a leader? My leadership style is not always celebrated in our fast paced and male-oriented world. I listen and support and seek collaboration opportunities. I lead softly and honestly and honor people’s experiences. My challenge is to say my truth more as part of that process and know when it is my role to step up. Equivocating or being conflicted is confusing, and I need to trust in my own truth, even if it’s different from another. There will be a chance to work it out.

Many women experience working with other women as a competitive situation. What was the community you created at Women with Wings like? It is my humble opinion that competition comes from not knowing your own truth and not understanding where it fits and how important it is to bring forward in our society. It is human nature to compare. It is more a woman’s way to collaborate and seek consensus and harmony. When we don’t do this, it’s because we are not in touch with our power and we fear using it. My community at Wings and my work at JEDI is to bring forward a woman’s voice and leadership more in daily interactions and major decisions. Society needs all perspectives and our collective voice. I support women to bring it forward in ways that are non-threatening and loving. I surround myself with others who want to build up and not break down my own leadership and that collectively of women.

Why would you recommend women attend Women with Wings? The trainers are superb and are women of integrity who show up to be with us as we seek greater understanding. For me it is always about relationship and the women that lead this workshop are top-notch. And of course, it is always good to be in room full of women wanting to be real in similar ways. Leadership is not about the title or the ranking but rather the personal authority one brings forward. I appreciate and seek out the chance to be in that space with other women.

How are you staying inspired? I recommend The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. I really enjoyed reading the book as it speaks to the confidence gap existing for women in the world. Studying this gap in confidence is a real eye-opener in terms of bring out more of the voices of women in our society. I share the philosophy of the authors who express in the preface that ‘Real change, societal change is possible when a conversation broadens.’ You can also take a confidence test yourself at:  www.TheConfidenceCode.com.

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