8M: strengthen the leader in you

Leadership is much more than being in charge of a team and managing it skilfully. It also requires self-care, resilience and an essential network of support. So we have held a workshop with three Explorer Alumni to empower all those entrepreneurial women who become leaders of their projects.

Called “Discover the leader in you. Tools to cultivate an entrepreneurial attitude”, our workshop began with the intervention of Connie Ferrada, holistic therapist and coach for self-knowledge. The Chilean talked about the need to break the structures or rules we learn as children without guilt or fear of losing our essence. If we dare, we will become the people we want to be. 

However, this path to transformation for women (entrepreneurs or not) is more complicated than it seems, so Connie recommended keeping a diary to discover ourselves. “Think about how a butterfly changes throughout its life” was her second piece of advice to open our eyes to the power of our own story: “In what you have lived, you will find ideas to transform the world”. 

Of course, the power of the female community featured prominently in her talk. “We are not enemies or competitors; we are support, companionship and revolution,” she remarked. Connecting and helping or being helped by other women is very important because if we are together, we will grow and change things.

Given her area of expertise, she could not close her speech without a reference to self-care: “Be kind to yourself, and you will be kind to the world. Your idea only grows to the extent that you do, so the best investment you can make in your project is you“, emphasised our Chilean Alumni, who insisted on wellness and non-negotiable moments (for example, “an appointment with yourself to do something you like, even if it is as simple as having a coffee”) to maintain entrepreneurial mental health.

 

Bohdana Schwendter, a PhD student at Strathclyde Business School, addressed women’s leadership from the point of view of the entrepreneurial mindset. “Being aware of our mindset (those elements in our behaviour or ideas that drive us to do what we do) and how we need to develop it will make us more effective and bring us closer to success in our goals,” she said.

How can we get into a mindset willing to grow rather than stagnate? Bohdana gave us these tips:

  • First, see problems as opportunities to evolve rather than as limiting.
  • Remain open to challenges and changes.
  • Expose ourselves and our ideas without fear of failure. If it happens, accept it, learn, improve and ask for help instead of thinking we have failed.
  • Ask for feedback and welcome new perspectives. “Being wrong does not take away our authority as leaders; we should be concerned with finding the truth and thinking positively,” she said.
  • Anticipate problems to be prepared and move forward. “Take risks, be persistent, be empowered,” Bohdana urged.
  • Practice empathy, networking and (once again) self-knowledge.

Before concluding, the German Alumni recommended the book Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck and gave us this mantra: “Believe in yourself. We live in a competitive world; to succeed, cultivate and grow your mindset,” she added.

Finally, Grecia Pérez, founder of Ellas Artes, spoke about everything she had learned about leadership from her time at Explorer: “It is the ability to inspire your team or a community to move towards positive change. But no one is born with this “superpower”, so she gave us a series of tools to increase our confidence and be more comfortable in this role.

  1. Build your purpose. That purpose acts as a guide, a compass that marks the path to your goal.
  2. Form a support network. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to do everything independently; remember that asking for help is critical to success.
  3. Eliminate your negative thoughts by remembering your achievements. As a woman entrepreneur, you are most likely a pioneer in your family, sector or community. You will see obstacles and face doubts; accept this as part of the journey.
  4. Overcome the “perfection trap”. Pursuing excellence hides your progress; moving forward is better than being perfect.

 

Entrepreneurial women, let’s lead the changes we want!

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