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Toronto | April 12, 2019




About The Art of Leadership for Women


TIFFANY DUFU Diversity and Women’s Advancement


SAMRA ZAFAR Authenticity and Resilience


DR. TASHA EURICH Self-Awareness and Performance


LAURA GASSNER OTTING Confidence and Potential


ROBIN ROBERTS Moderated Conversation




BILL WILLIAMS Closing Remarks


Women all over the world are no longer accepting the status quo. They’re rising up, breaking through, pushing the boundaries and carving their own paths. From glass ceilings and “leaning in” to office politics and work-life balance, today’s women leaders face numerous challenges. As they move up the corporate ladder and take on increased responsibilities, leaders require a full understanding of how to pivot within an evolving corporate landscape. In a world of information overload, The Art of Leadership for Women focuses on the topics and trends most critical to women leaders. This unique one-day conference features a remarkable collection of world leaders, business icons and bestselling authors.



TIFFANY DUFU Leadership Luminary, Bestselling Author and Former President of The White House Project

If you want something that you never had before, you have to do something you never did before.

DIVERSITY AND WOMEN’S ADVANCEMENT As Tiffany’s career really took off, she told us at The Art of Leadership for Women, “I began dropping balls.” This was un-characteristic for her and so, she began to explore why. In the end Tiffany discovered many balls she was willing to drop, and which lead her to write her book ‘Drop The Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less.’ We started our day with Tiffany sharing three of her favourite balls to drop. Ball #1 Early in Tiffany’s research she realized how many balls many of us try to keep in the air that only satisfy other people’s expectations of ‘who we are supposed to be’. Tiffany recommends this is one of the first balls we all drop. One strategy Tiffany uses to do this is to look at our life backwards. Ask ‘At my funeral what do I want my impact to be?’ Recognizing we can’t do everything; Tiffany suggests focusing on clearly answering two things: • What matters most to me? • What am I really good at?


For example, we may choose to drop self-defined ‘Busy Work’ like picking up our kids from school and choose to keep ‘Important Work’ like instilling values with our family and having meaningful conversations at dinner.

• Ask the important people in your lives what is important to them. Tiffany shared the example of when she asked her children what they want from her to be a great mom. Tiffany expected a long list of duties; instead they asked her to make homemade scones on weekends. This is a great example of how

Ball #2 The second ball Tiffany suggested we examine and potentially drop is routine. Is our routine still important to our goals, or has it just become habit? As Tiffany says, “If you want something that you never had before, you have to do something you never did before.” Many of us struggle with this but, to bring us the joy and success we want, we have to embrace that change is healthy.

we put ourselves under great pressure to do things that may not be important or even get noticed by others.

• Tiffany’s second piece of advice was to be sure we manage expectations and let people know when we are about to drop a ball. We should also be prepared to invest time working with those same people to determine new solutions as everyone’s priorities will likely shift.

Ball #3 Let go of the idea that we have to be perfect—‘a supermom’. This means many of us have to do things we are uncomfortable with… things like getting over the fear of asking for help and getting used to delegating more. Tiffany shared two final pieces of advice:




SAMRA ZAFAR Human Rights Activist, Scholar, Author and Social Entrepreneur

We have to build humanity into our workplaces.

AUTHENTICITY AND RESILIENCE Samra Zafar was married at 16 years old and was assaulted, humiliated and beaten every day by her husband. Samra was also a woman with a dream. With very little emotional support, Samra still wanted more for herself and her children. Even as the physical and emotional abuse escalated Samra did what she felt she had to do – any way she could. She: • Finished high school by correspondence • Babysat and worked at Zellers for as long as her husband let her

• Worked hard to be the perfect wife and homemaker

When she worked at Zellers and later when she was at university Samra began experiencing an unfamiliar world where people valued her and where she didn’t live in constant fear. Then, after close to 10 years after being married Samra’s dream came true and she started university. While at university Samra happened upon a sign that outlined the symptoms of abuse. It was the sign that began her journey of recovery and the realization


that the abuse was not her fault. It was also a sign she wished she had seen years ago—perhaps in the lunchroom at Zellers or in some advertisement. And while it took another 3 years of living with abuse, the day came when Samra moved out of her matrimonial home with her two daughters into student housing. Samra felt safe for the first time in years. Fast forward to today and Samra is an accomplished consultant, author and speaker. She also receives thousands of email and in-person messages from other victims of abuse telling her how proud they were of her and thanking her for breaking her silence. The reality is 1 in 2 women in America will suffer from physical or sexual abuse. 80% of them will experience mental disorders. No matter where Samra goes in the world she hears how it not only effects the woman or man being abused, it also effects their children. Samra clearly points out we all have someone close to us who is being impacted by abuse and is likely suffering in silence because they feel isolated and ashamed. Samra has a clear message to all

victims of abuse, “We have to give ourselves permission to allow ourselves to be seen, to be vulnerable and to be real. If we are being abused, we cannot hide what is happening to us.” In closing Samra also stressed that as leaders, “We have to build humanity into our workplaces.” In some cases that may begin by putting up a sign about abuse in community spaces. Samra said it also means creating safe places where, “People are empowered to be the most authentic versions of themselves and where a colleague being abused at home or who is struggling from mental illness may speak up before it’s too late. We need opportunities where we can connect over shared experiences instead of disconnect over perceived differences.”





On a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about lying to ourselves.

Organizational Psychologist, Researcher and New York Times Bestselling Author

SELF-AWARENESS AND PERFORMANCE Do you know or work with someone who is not self-aware? Tasha’s research has identified “About 98% of people work with at least one unaware co-worker.” Tasha calls self-awareness, “The Meta Skill of the 21st century” and her research has identified self-aware leaders are: • More successful at their jobs • More promotable • More respected leaders • More confident and more effective communicators

• More fulfilled in romantic relationship • Better friends • Likely to raise less narcissistic children The good news for women is that research shows women identify as more self-aware than men and are able to decode emotional expressions more skillfully than men. Three behaviours of self-aware leaders: 1. They trust their power 2. They introspect the right way 3. They proactively seek feedback As Tasha says, “On a good day, 80% of


us are lying to ourselves about lying to ourselves.” In addition, Tasha shared, “The least competent people tend to be the most confident about their performance.” Yikes. Tasha shared two tools we can all use to help gather feedback and introspect the right way.

• What qualities do you most appreciate about me as a leader?

• Can you give me 1 or 2 examples? Once you have their feedback, look for themes in their responses. For example: • Are there strengths you didn’t know you had? • Are there strengths you knew you had and can now feel more confident?

Tool #1: Ask “What” versus “Why” Great self-aware leaders also introspect the right way. Asking ‘Why’ gets us stuck into what is wrong… it holds us back. Instead, by asking ‘What’ we are able to look at possibilities to propel us forward. For example: • Instead of asking “Why do you want to change

The most important part of this exercise is that self-aware people quickly begin to work to correct their challenges by working with a coach, mentor or by taking self-improvement courses.

your job?” ask “What do you like about what you’re doing?”

Tool #2: Reflected Best Self Exercise Self-aware leaders proactively seek feedback. To get an appreciation of how others see us, Tasha recommends we send eight people (who you know will give you honest, respectful feedback) an email and ask the following two questions:




LAURA GASSNER OTTING Chief Catalyzing Officer at Limitless Possibility and Author

Let go of the pressure of everyone else’s definition of success.

CONFIDENCE AND POTENTIAL Laura challenged us all to ask, “Whose vision of success are we trying to live?” Are we living our dream and our passion or are we following someone else’s dream—perhaps even societies dream of what we should be doing. If we feel stuck it might be because we are not living our passion. What’s important is that whatever we do is our goal not a goal someone else imposed on us. Laura encourages us to set and follow our own path and to stop giving votes to people who shouldn’t even have voices. But Laura warns us, “Don’t be fooled, it’s likely this job won’t come easy; it might be the job we will fail at over and over again until you eventually succeed.” How do we know where our passion is? Laura suggests trying to live a life where we find ‘Consensus’ which includes:

It was encouraging that Laura also recommends we “Let go of the pressure of everyone else’s definition of success,” which was a ‘successful leadership message’ we heard from our other leaders and presenters through the day. Laura reminded us that being busy doesn’t mean we are having impact and to focus on where our passion has impact. We have to be sure to carve our own path and to remember to be open to change. We have to keep in mind that what matters to us will change over time. Our children spend their whole day on the edge of incompetence—living in a world of change. Why shouldn’t we from time to time? Laura embraces the idea that, “Failure

isn’t final, it’s the place where we grow and learn.” Laura also feels that when we fail at other people’s version of success it is an opportunity. Why? Because “It begins to make room for our own version of success,” says Laura, “This is where we can dream big dreams and where we should take chances.” In closing, Laura leaves us to consider, “Are you exactly where you should be?” To explore this question, we might need to ask ourselves the following three additional questions: • What would it feel like to be truly limitless? • What do you need to do or change today to get there?

• What will be the cost if you don’t?

• Calling – What is our calling? It should be a gravitational force.

• Connection – How do we matter? • Contribution – What does this job give that enriches us?

• Control – Our ability to do.





ROBIN ROBERTS Co-Anchor, “Good Morning America” and Bestselling Author

Optimism is like a muscle that gets stronger with use.

MODERATED CONVERSATION Robin is an inspiration and, in many ways, demonstrates from her own experiences how the strongest foundation of great leadership is ironically great flexibility and adaptability. Success didn’t come easy for Robin. She is a self-made woman and she shared with us how she overcame many challenges in her professional life and personal life. That said, nothing seems to have ever slowed Robin down for long and she has met every challenge with both courage, grace and in her own words… optimism. Robin has always had great determination. To help us, Robin shared four key take-away ideas that form her approach and decision making. They are: • We all have to dream big but focus small— we have to focus on what we have to do today to achieve our big dream.

• Success means we have to continuously learn, change and adapt. We cannot rely on past accomplishments or natural talents.

• Proximity is power. We have to put ourselves in front of people and experiences


that will help us reach our goals.

• Be flexible. Nothing stays the same and we have to be willing to adjust our dream. This does not mean giving up.

Robin shared an example of how she followed these four take-aways when she was at university and studying to be a sports announcer. She had talent, but she knew she needed to stand out if she was going to fulfill her big dream. So, focusing small, Robin approached a local radio station and asked if she could be their morning sports announcer. As expected, this bold move gave her experience that helped her stand-out. Robins radio example also is an example of partnership and collaboration. In return for giving Robin sports announcer experience, the station needed Robin to host a country music show, which also began her love for country music. For Robin, being optimistic and the journey are as important as the destination. Robin believes, “Optimism is like a muscle that gets stronger with use.” This is important because she

also believes “When you are faced with adversity you become more of what you are.” To help her stay grounded Robin also routinely reflects on living the 3-D’s she was taught by her family. It stands for: • Discipline yourself – so no one else has to. • Determination – be willing to venture outside of your comfort zone.

• De’Lord – have faith. We will always have some battle to fight. Some battles will be great, and some will be small. Either way, Robin believes that we are supposed to learn something from whatever is in our path. So, instead of treating challenges like obstacles, treat them as stepping stones. One final recommendation Robin shared is perhaps not a surprising piece of advice from a successful journalist who has interviewed some of the most influential people. “As a people we need to learn how to listen. We are quick to talk and not good at listening. When we listen, we pick up clues about what others need.”












SVP, Planning, Analysis and Optimization

Senior Vice President, North America Marketing

Vice President, Marketing

Managing Director, Talent & Leadership Development

Senior Vice President and Chief Auditor

CEO and Co-Founder

The executive panel shared wonderfully relevant experiences in a number of areas important to women in leadership. STRATEGIES TO HELP WOMEN ACHIEVE The first question Anique Asher asked the whole panel was to share strategies to help women achieve.

ness and self-reflection themes that kept appearing throughout the day. Kate recommended, “Everyone should know what we are good at and to take responsibility to know how we learn.” Kate also recommended, “We should never lose focus on growth as a person.”

Amanda Hodges lead the discussion by recommending women, “Have a vision of where you are going – and share your vision. It doesn’t help if nobody knows it.”

Margo Hoyt discussed how important it is to, “Look for an organization that is interested in advancing women. Be choosey! And when you get there be sure to network and look for who can influence your career.”

Heather Haslam shared how it’s important for her to, “Have a trigger that helps me get negative self-talk out of my head. Knowing when my trigger is switched helps me move forward and to keep using my strengths.”

Leigh Chalmers shared advice about how important it is to, “Build authentic relationships.” Leigh recommends, “Get into the weeds at work – get outside of your comfort zone and perhaps take on a special project; make sure you get noticed.”

Kate Ross LeBlanc had recommendations that paralleled the self-aware-

MENTORSHIP AND SPONSORSHIP Anique asked about how mentorship and


sponsorship can be used to support women. The panelists reminded us mentorship & sponsorship are different. Mentor: May be people from all over the organization depending on what you need: • Different people for different things • When you meet with them don’t only show

Margo agreed that mentorship and sponsorship are important and recommended everyone always be clear on expectations (perhaps even have a contract). BUILDING AN EXCITING FUTURE Anique asked the panelists what they were excited about for the future and they discussed four key areas:

up, come prepared

• More and more, women and men are able to Sponsor: Usually the one person who will talk about you to other people of influence: • Typically someone you have worked with • Someone who knows you and your work Heather shared how important it is to have both internal and external mentors. She also recommended an increasing trend of reciprocal mentorship and reverse mentorship where organizations encourage younger employees to mentor senior employees.

be ‘authentic’ at work.

• It’s important to sponsor a woman. They encouraged the audience to consider how they could ‘Light a Woman Up.’

• Engage any man [or woman] who can act as a champion and sponsor of equity, diversity and inclusion.

• Ask your company, “What structural barriers are holding women back?” Then, begin building an environment where everyone can be self-aware and lead from their whole-self.




CLOSING REMARKS Drop the Ball Cure your HCD (Home Control Disease) Release unrealistic expectations of doing it ALL Ask for help If you want something you’ve never had before you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before Knowledge can give you your POWER back! You just need someone to show you the way and tell you “YOU are WORTH it!” Resilience is collective Are you an ABOVE average driver?!? Don’t under predict how others see you! Don’t ask “Why?” ask “What?” Ask “What qualities do you most appreciate about me as a leader? Give me one or two examples.” Keep your own scorecard Consonance is a major part of confidence. What is your calling? What is your contribution? And, what is in your control? How do we match the “what we do” with the “who we are”? Do, then dream! Find your fundamental state of leadership! Don’t judge your bloopers by everyone else’s highlight reel! Dream BIG – focus small Proximity is POWER I love it when people put themselves in a place for good things to happen. Make your mess your message. Optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use! See you this fall at The Art of Leadership Toronto

Bill Williams

To know and not to do is really not to know. To learn and not to do something with the learning is really not to have learned.




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The Art of Leadership for Women Toronto 2019: Conference Summary  

On Friday, April 12th, 2019, 1,800+ leaders from across Canada gathered in Toronto to be a part of The Art of Leadership for Women. This yea...

The Art of Leadership for Women Toronto 2019: Conference Summary  

On Friday, April 12th, 2019, 1,800+ leaders from across Canada gathered in Toronto to be a part of The Art of Leadership for Women. This yea...

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