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Developing key leadership traits a never-ending process for today’s professionals

October 8, 2019 //

Working in an age of disruption, women are encouraged to embrace and grow their leadership styles.

Your leadership style is constantly evolving, even if you don’t realize it.

Womens Leadership session photo
Group exercises guided by facilitator Wendi Wasik help Women’s Leadership Series participants gain more insight into their own leadership styles, growth and development. [Photo by Karen Naylor]
That’s because professional women are living and working in an age of disruption, says Wendi Wasik, facilitator of “Understanding and Leveraging Your Leadership Style,” the first of six sessions in the Fox School’s Women’s Leadership Series.

“Women have greater opportunities to shape and influence what is of importance to them,” Wasik says.

The monthly series, hosted by the Center for Executive Education, provides an environment for professional women to grow their knowledge of effective and successful leadership skills.

Wasik, an executive coach, was quick to issue a challenge to the room of women whose careers spanned a range of professions.

“What do you care about?” she asks. “What has you want[ing] to rise up and be the best leader you can be?”

For some emerging leaders, the answer to those questions might take them out of their comfort zone.

“When a situation calls for something different, we need to introduce some flexibility,” she says. 

“Your leadership style is multidimensional and fluid, it is not hard and fast, although sometimes we think it is. It is constantly evolving and expanding your awareness as you gain experience and you integrate lessons from successes and failures.”

Temple University Provost JoAnne A. Epps joined the cohort for a conversation about women in leadership. She advised participants to think about what they want to achieve as leaders.

Provost Epps and Wendi Wasik
Temple University Provost JoAnne A. Epps joins Wendi Wasik in a discussion about career experiences among professional women. [Photo by Karen Naylor]
“We don’t actually ask ourselves that question often enough,” she says. “Feel free to think boldly and to try things.”

It’s important for all leaders to recognize their blind spots as well as the sweet spots and be open to input from others to help identify strengths and weaknesses.

“There is a lot of value in creating a learning environment where one can discuss failures and mistakes and learn from it and come back stronger because of it,” Wasik says.

Small team exercises allowed several participants to have “lightbulb moments” that helped them identify individual strengths and weaknesses.

“Awareness is really the first step,” Wasik says, “You cannot change what you are not aware of.”

Some of the things that influence most leadership styles center around a person’s mindset and the internal dialogue that takes place during a time of challenge.

A fixed mindset makes it difficult to grow as a leader. So Wasik urged participants to cultivate a growth mindset that is more open to learning new ways to lead and think about problems in front of them.

“This becomes the fabric of the culture,” she says.

Wasik believes internal dialogue can create both opportunities and limitations for women that ultimately impacts behavior.

“The perfectionism aspect that I see particularly around women executives is really intense sometimes,” she says.

Accepting and learning from mistakes is something successful leaders need to work toward.

“If you don’t own that and master that for yourself, you do not have it to give away to others,” Wasik says.

But both Epps and Wasik admit change and growth can be uncomfortable.

“If you are going to be an effective leader, you’re going to have people who are going to dislike decisions that you make and they are going to try to derail the decision or derail you,” Epps says.

It’s how someone deals with these difficult situations that can make a difference for all parties involved.

“I think you have to emotionally let go of that because it will hold you back,” she says.

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