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The Elements of Leadership

The Ad Club opened the conversation around its Annual Women’s Leadership Forum with this:

We believe it’s no coincidence that the first two letters of the word FEMALE also represent the periodic element of iron.


Right away I knew that the event will highlight strong and empowered women – and I was right. I was fortunate enough to attend the inspiring event, which was filled with women in varying career paths. But the lessons I learned that day are useful to anyone – female or male – who wants to be a successful business person, entrepreneur, and leader.

The speakers talked about the different elements of leadership (ambition, passion, vision, influence, tenacity, perspective, compassion, creativity, and integrity).  Below are my favorite segments:

The Element of Leadership – Charlotte Beers, former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and author of I’d Rather Be In Charge

As advertisers, we are all familiar with the TV show Mad Men, and Beers is considered as a “Mad Woman”. She was the first speaker at the forum, and she gave direct pointers on how to be in charge. She said that it is very important to know who you are and how you communicate it to others, and that relationships aren’t so much about how are you as part of the team, but also how you are when you step outside of the team. One of her tips was “to speak and behave ever more clearly, ever more persuasively, and always more memorably.”

The Elements of Vision – Janet Marie Smith, VP of Planning & Development, Baltimore Orioles

Smith works in male-dominated fields: architecture, construction, and baseball. She is credited for the redesign of Fenway Park. I particularly liked her stories on how other people think her job is all fun and games, but in reality it requires serious hard work and dedication. She said that that her most important skills are her organizational and communication skills – skills that may be cultivated and utilized for all sorts of industries and careers.

The Elements of Creativity – Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer of MASTERPIECE and Downtown Abbey

While it was very entertaining to hear from the executive producer of the Emmy-award winning series, I think her tip for success was the most basic yet powerful: know your audience. As marketers, media planners, and social media enthusiasts, that is something that should be ingrained in us. She also offered the following suggestions: be brave, “communicate less” (take the time to unplug every now and then), be more quiet (listen more), and think more.

I have learned many lessons from the Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum, but the tips that resonated with me are things I can choose to act upon immediately:

  • Relationships aren’t so much about how are you as part of the team, but also how you are when you step outside of the team.
  • Polish your organizational and communication skills.
  • Know your audience.

And in the words of Rebecca Eaton,

Whatever you do, do the thing you love.

Do you have any strong, iron-willed, and empowered women who inspired you? Share with us in the comments section!

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