By Rhian Rotz
I’m excited that Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) joined hands with some great organizations to support Lean In, a nonprofit organization founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg with the goal of providing women the encouragement and support to achieve their goals. When WE learned about Lean In several months ago, it was a no-brainer to get behind this movement and encourage our employees to get involved. There’s a perfect fit between Lean In and our belief in the power of education and economic empowerment and the importance of helping EVERYONE — women and girls, boys and men — to reach their full potential and realize their ambitions. We provide employees with career opportunities, a rich curriculum of development programs to help employees realize their full potential. They’re also encouraged to volunteer their time and skills with organizations such as the YWCA, The Good Neighbor Center, Das Kinderschiff, Chi Heng Foundation and others.
In a blog about the movement Sheryl Sandberg commented, “By talking openly about the challenges that we all face in the workplace and at home, we can work towards solutions together.” This mirrored the essence of a powerful learning program that I experienced several years ago. I was part of a magnet program at WE called Leadership Forum, a yearlong program offered to a selected group of eight to 12 people who convene for four to five hours on a monthly basis to learn and develop leadership skills and solve real-time business issues individuals face. The idea behind the Lean In Circle is somewhat similar.
One of the biggest takeaways from Leadership Forum was the notion that almost EVERYTHING is a choice. I have the power and own my choices. I choose what to write, what to say, how to respond to situations, where to work, where to live, what to believe. The list goes on. Choices are hard, expose vulnerability, and require courage and often there are consequences. I’ve learned that taking responsibility and owning my actions and the outcomes is what matters.
Leadership is a choice to be purposeful, it doesn’t just happen. When people don’t intentionally choose to lead, they choose to follow. Being a follower is a sign of good leadership too. Knowing when to take the reins or when to let others excel is equally important because it indicates that the person knows their strengths and weaknesses. Being a leader is about making intentional choices, celebrating the victories and learning from others.
Leaning In is an intentional choice to grow, connect and learn. Are you in?