Kirstine Stewart inspired an audience of McMaster students and guests speaking about her new book, Our Turn, which was released yesterday. This accomplished woman who started as a self-described “Girl Friday” completing administrative and reception roles, worked her way into senior roles at CBC and now at Twitter. In a lecture hall, she shared her wisdom and enthusiasm and I am looking forward to reading my signed copy of Our Turn.
Stewart shared her insights on the importance of the “soft skills” of collaboration, multi-tasking, listening and communication which women exemplify in leadership. She spoke about titles vs. scope of influence; how it doesn’t matter what your title is if you are fulfilled with the role and are an authentic leader. In discussing progression, Stewart told the audience that you can no longer depend on a 5 year plan but need to “listen to the cues“, “lead from where you are” and think about the impact that you are making.
In her own experience, Stewart had been criticized for going back to work when her child was 6 weeks old. She had not defended her choices by giving rationale but her spouse had lost his job so it was the best decision for her family. She qualified this as “my decision, my life” and challenged the audience to reframe these issues, “not as a women’s issue but as a family issue.” She encouraged the audience that “we really should be judging other people,” that there are enough challenges in the world without dealing with the judgement of others and that it is important for women to support each other. These are important messages and I hope that the students in the room will have a positive experience as they enter the workforce.
While getting my book signed, I had the chance to ask Stewart about breaking through to the next level in leadership and her comment was that it was important to “find your niche, and to do what no one else is doing”. I could not help but relate this to Innovate Yourself which I have just finished reading.
It was an inspiring evening and I enjoyed attending the session with my mom! I am looking forward to reading the book and delving more into her leadership style of “declaring a vision, providing the tools and getting out of the way!”
“Do great work, be bold, they can’t ignore you anymore”