Leadership and Change

We are half way through Women's History Month and past International Women's Day. It is a month to reflect on the status of women - how far we've come, progress under attack and what's left to do. For Leading Women, March is also our anniversary month - 8 years ago, Jane Metzger was our first breakfast speaker. Since then much has changed for Leading Women and we're so grateful that you've been with us for the journey.

As I reflect on the horrific tragedy in Japan, I know that every day has its tragedies for millions of women around the world (to understand more about this read Half the Sky). And so, it feels fitting that I'm spending a chunk of this month in Guatemala where a group of Leading Women will be working with women's cooperatives and a local health center to strengthen their capabilities and position them for sustained success. You can read more about what we're doing here.

Working cross culturally is an excellent way to confront the fact that we have worldviews and that they influence everything we do. And so, we begin our work with a weekend focused on strategy and change and a contemplation of our worldviews on both

For example, in the U.S. we live in a linear culture with the future in front of us and the past behind. In other cultures, including in the indigenous cultures around Lake Atitlan, time is circular. Their actions are shaped by the cyclical nature of the season  and the work that has to be done in their milpas (plots of land where maize is grown).

As I think about my worldview on change, I see that it is shaped not only by the U.S. culture, but also by the fact that I am the eldest, that my grandparents or great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. and other factors. As I think about working on strategy and the changes that strategic plans require, I consider how a milpa is like a business. Both are influenced by the environment, both produce outcomes and both need nurturing infusions.

What forces have shaped your worldview on change? Do you seek change, embrace change or approach it with caution? Do different types of change cause different reactions in you? What are your beliefs about making change? And how does your complicated and personal worldview about change strenghten or impede your success as a leader? This is important self-discovery work - because, as I say, "leadership is all about change all the time."

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.
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