Infusing more life into life


Women Leaders Call It Out at Portland Power Breakfast

December 17, 2017

Have you noticed that discussions of women in leadership are no longer staying as neatly in the lines as we are used to? November’s Power Breakfast, sponsored by the Portland Business Journal, was no exception. The four women leaders and the panel facilitator spoke about their journeys, current events, and the changes in business culture. Each shared her stand and perspective as a woman, but the discussion itself was not at all “for women only.”


Women find ways around the isolation of leadership by stocking their toolkit with screwdrivers, sledgehammers, and self-care.


Here are my four leadership-style takeaways from The Women in Leadership Power Breakfast.

  1. Transform into increasing leadership
    Women excel in collaboration and can role model for the organization. According to Maria Pope, “transform” means “not to ditch the essential characteristics of women’s leadership.”  Transform means for each woman to be more grounded in her leadership style. Pope’s advice was to: Be collaborative with a broad range of thinkers. Be inclusive. Foster many minds working together to solve complex problems.

  2. The sledgehammer or the screwdriver, know which one to choose
    What do women require in their toolkit? Often women get accustomed to the detailed approach of problem solving, Chandra Brown said. Then, they negotiating through life with the careful adjustments of a screwdriver.  Brown’s background in the construction industry led her to conclude that women rarely reach for their sledgehammer.   “So, what does it mean for everyone to have full access to their toolkit?” she asked.

  3. The art of the counter offer
    What women can learn from men is not to accept the first offer.  No matter what, Serilda Summers-McGee advised. Then she led the audience in a repeat after me, call and response style, to her cue of “Counter Offer.” Say it again. Louder. “Counter Offer”

  4. Manage your transitions
    Each leader makes adjustments as she takes on more positional authority. Often taboo, Vanessa Sturgeon was candid about the importance of therapy and self-care. Executive leaders require a confidant, she said, as they redefine who they are and learn how they operate at the next level.


L-R: Vanessa Sturgeon (TMT Development), Chandra Brown (Endeavour Capitol), Serilda Summers-McGee, Maria Pope (PGE),  Suzanne Stevens (Editor, Portland Business Journal) 


A Culture of Inclusion = No Harassment

Suzanne Stevens, facilitator, had the panel address the rise of recognized allegations of sexual harassment in entertainment and politics.


Summers-McGee asked women in the audience to raise their hand if they were surprised by the allegations; no one did. She then asked men in the room to observe.  It was a powerful moment.


The goal is to eliminate harassment for everyone. "Increase physical and psychological workplace safety for all employees", Pope advocated, "that’s how we continue the momentum."  Brown and Sturgeon explained we all must participate in calling out the behaviors. “C – I – O, Call It Out,” Brown said.   In my opinion, on-the-spot action is the new 21st century courage.  Courage, in this century, shows up as men and women represent each that other and take a personal stand for inclusion.


 On-the-spot action is the new 21st century courage.


So, here’s a pro-tip that will help us all. If you feel that you cannot report an incident on your own, Summers-McGee said, gather a few friends or supporters and come forward as a group. It had never occurred to me that you didn’t have to go it alone.  This is a very important message.

Overall Impact of the Power Breakfast

The panel’s discussion helped me to realize that women find ways around the isolation of leadership by stocking their toolkit with screwdrivers, sledgehammers, and self-care or amplifying their skills in collaboration.

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    A visionary technologist by day, Delia is also a published author and public speaker, often focusing on topics of project management, research practices, user experience and diversity in the workplace. Involved in the community and external business world, Delia co-founded Designing Me, an organization that steers professional women into executive and leadership positions. Her Got Strategy workshop assists junior and mid-level professionals in setting and executing a career strategy.

    © 2017 by Delia Grenville

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