Five things we learnt at Women in Leadership 2017

Thursday 09-02-2017 - 00:00

This week we held our fourth ever Women in Leadership Conference. The event brought together over 250 women from across the country for an inspiring day of workshops, networking and panel discussions. Here are the top five things that we learnt...

1. Be kind!

We were pleased to welcome Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt, as a keynote speaker at our annual Women in Leadership Conference. Ruth has been voted as one of the most influential LGBT+ people in Britain! She kicked the day off with an inspirational speech about her experiences in leadership roles, tackling inequality and encouraged delegates to ‘never be afraid of your ambition or doubt your ability to lead’. Ruth’s top three tips for becoming a great leader were: find your values now, understand who you are, and most importantly BE KIND!


2. Stay resilient in the face of everyday sexism

Delegates explored what resilience was and how to identify micro-agressions as part of a knowledge session led by NUS’ own Development and Training Officer Bindz Patel. Bindz shared six key strategies to staying resilient: create support networks, clarify purpose, build self-awareness, enhance self-care, actualise strengths and broaden coping skills. Dealing with micro-agressions? Use the BIFF model…
Behaviour – tell them what they did
Impact – explain the impact it had on you
Following on – letting them know how you feel about it
Future – what they can do to stop the behaviour
The main takeaway of this session: Everyone has resilience, you just need to learn to nurture it.


3. Barriers to women in leadership still exist

Throughout the day attendees learnt about intersectionality in feminism, what it is and what it isn’t. People shared experiences of working intersectionally and barriers faced in non-intersectional spaces; looking at and understanding multiple forms of exclusion and tools to organise intersectionality in an activist environment. If you’d like to find out more about intersectionality we’d suggest watching this great TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw: The urgency of intersectionality.


4. No one leader is the same

Every leader is unique! Leadership is about bringing out the best in ourselves and others. Delegates looked at leadership not as a position, but as a state of mind or attitude about how they choose to live, that inspires others to follow and helps them achieve their full potential. Participants learnt about their leader identity – how to recognise and accept themselves as a leader and the different ways of being a leader; core to this was identifying individual values and leadership purpose. 


5. Get your voice heard

Ever been talked over, interrupted, or not able to get a word in during a conversation? Body language plays a huge part in people’s perception of you as a leader and someone to trust. Delegates practised the body language of leaders, from the ‘power pose’, breathing from your belly, voice mirroring and owning the silent pause to let your point ruminate. They learnt how to build trust through embracing someone new like you have met them twice before, and avoid ‘weasel words’ like ‘perhaps’, ‘maybe’ and ‘possibly’. It was recognised that imposter syndrome was a recurrent barrier to women getting their voice heard – if you want to find out more there’s a super interesting study by Amy Cudie about overcoming self-doubt to reveal your boldest self.


Feedback from delegates was really positive and the event inspired more people to think about how they can apply various techniques, workshops and models of behaviour to develop and build on for the future. You can catch up on the conversations on Twitter - #WIL17!



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