Lora was with me at a dinner when we talked about what it means to be a leader – the debate was fun, heated and left me pondering a few things about women in leadership. Given the various points of view at the table, I realized I want to pursue discussions that would give more insights into the challenges women face at work. She Leads is the result: a series of focused conversations featuring women who are leaders in their fields. It is a safe space where women can speak frankly about their experiences, the work-life juggling act these positions demand, the obstacles and rewards, and all the ways they navigate leadership roles as women. She Leads is a place to share stories about women who lead in their own unique ways and an opportunity for them to pass on their invaluable wisdom to others. Following are edited excerpts of the She Leads dialogues:
Define inspiring leadership?
I define inspiring leadership as being heart-centered. We cannot achieve anything meaningful in isolation. To move forward any project or idea, it requires collaboration, creativity, and trust. Whether you are leading your team or bringing new partners into the fold, they need to know that you are coming from an authentic, heart-centered place in order to join you.
What is one leadership lesson you’ve learned so far?
Trust yourself and your intuition. Speak up if something does not feel right and stay in your integrity. No job or promotion is worth losing your grounding and sense of self.
As a female leader what are the opportunities and challenges you face?
Trying to juggle being a good parent and a good employee is a real challenge. I do not want to miss the pivotal moments in my daughter’s life. It is important for me to be there for her field trips and school concerts. I also want to be a really good colleague and to meaningfully contribute at my workplace. I have recently been witnessing a shift in workplace culture; it seems to be increasingly moving towards providing the kind of flexibility required to make this possible. I hope this continues, as I consider it to be a real opportunity – especially for women.
What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past year?
I have been really impressed with the impact of free collaboration platforms, such as Slack. Slack allows for the sending of direct messages. It has the ability to organize conversations into different channels (e.g. specific projects, technical support, general chat, etc.). It supports video-calling. You can also drag, drop, share and store files with your colleagues directly within the app and access services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
What is your daily leadership practice? (A leadership practice for me is defined as a leadership discipline that I do daily)
Self-care. Whether it is exercising, meditating or making healthy food choices, it is so important to care for yourself – mind, body and soul - or you are of no use to anyone else.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
Do the work that brings you the most joy.
Lora McKay is Acting Director of Creative Sector Policy and Governance with the Province of British Columbia. She has worked in the not-for-profit arts sector and public service for over twenty-years. Lora is committed to fostering a healthy and vibrant creative economy in B.C. through strategic policy and program development. In her personal life, Lora is mother to a nine-year old daughter and she writes a lifestyle blog: breath-by-breath.com