I should start by saying that I am a very intuitive person and as much as I would love to say that I am a leader who leads with facts and logic, I cannot. I lead with my gut and for me the ultimate sense of knowing when something “feels right” is when I get goose bumps. It is my body’s own internal way of saying,
“Pay attention. You have something to learn or gain from this experience. Listen.”
I have been to many leadership retreats, programs, and workshops and in fact even studied leadership for my undergraduate degree at a phenomenal program, but never have I gotten the astounding feeling of gratitude as I did from Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute™.
Watching 400 eager women come together hungry to learn and grow was incredibly profound. As one of the co-Program Managers of the Institute, when I looked out into the sea of participants during our opening remarks I got my first dose of goose bumps.
That would not be the only time. Over the next couple of days the participants moved through a series of learning experiences like hearing from keynote speakers such as Marshall Goldsmith, Anne Mulcahy (former CEO of Xerox), Soledad O’Brien (CNN newsanchor) just to name a few. They moved on to focused workshop sessions on critical skills and competencies, and then again on to small group learning teams where they could make sense and apply all of the information learned.
On the morning of Tuesday, November 15th, we had the pleasure of hearing from one of our keynote speakers, Keiko Fujimori, the youngest first lady of Peru and 2011 Peruvian presidential candidate. Keiko’s presentation on”Motivating for Change” was awe-inspiring. She told us a story of courage, hope, and always following the right path even if it is not the easiest. Perhaps the greatest thing about Keiko’s presentation was her authenticity. Her life story quickly became an inspiration to us all and by the end, she had the audience laughing, crying, and was given not just one, but two standing ovations. That feeling was back, my goose bumps. I looked over at my boss, Susan Brady, our SVP of Global Programs, and said, “this is what we are here to do.” For that moment, I knew that the people in that room were exactly where they were supposed to be, listening to Keiko’s flawless and motivational words.
The Institute continued and the participants seemed to be soaking up as much as their minds could take. By the last day, we heard feedback from several people. Many mentioned that they expected that they would grow as a professional, but they also grew on a personal level. They would walk away not only as better bosses, colleagues, and business partners, but also as more thoughtful mothers, daughters, and friends.
Perhaps the greatest feedback we heard was from one woman who Susan met in an elevator. The woman was crying and when asked if she was okay she said,
“This program changed my life. I don’t have to be perfect anymore.”
Cue the goose bumps.
All of these hair-raising situations forced me to stop, pay attention, and learn. The Institute far exceeded my expectations on so many levels. I left Chicago humbled by the capacity of phenomenal leadership that is making its way to change the world one day at a time.
About the Author
Abri Brickner is the co-Program Manager for the Women in Leadership Institute™. Prior to joining Linkage, Abri served as the Learning & Development Coordinator for Benchmark Senior Living. While in this role, she designed and managed Benchmark’s annual leadership offsite retreat, built strategic partnerships with external organizations, oversaw the production of Benchmark’s employee magazine, directed all aspects of the company’s management development program, and managed Benchmark’s corporate university. She holds a Bachelors degree in Organizational Communication and Leadership Studies from Marietta College and served as a research team member for Harvard School of Public Leadership’s “America’s Best Leaders” award which was published in U.S. News and World Report Magazine, 2007- 2008.