Lessons for Women Leaders: Takeaways from the CWB and Women’s Leadership Committee Event in Houston

June 17, 2012

The Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) offers its members a unique opportunity to grow and succeed both personally and professionally.  Each member has demonstrated her leadership capability in her respective career choice, whether in the private, governmental or nonprofit realms.  This group then provides opportunities for its members to meet and develop relationships with other women who are at similar situated positions in their career trajectory as well as women who have succeeded to top leadership positions across the Greater Houston area. 

A recent event jointly held by WLC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provided the forum for a conversation with three successful women who are leaders in their respective fields. Though each had taken a different path, they had similar lessons to share with the group as to what it takes to be a leader.  What I learned:

  • The Seat At The Table: Where do I want to place myself? I must determine what is important to the organization, and work on it. Then, I need to determine who is the person who has the power to give me a seat at the table.  
  • My Own Personal Style: What am I good at? I must focus on my assets, and maximize them. I also must determine what is my personal style or “secret sauce”.  Once I determine my personal style, I must figure out how I distinguish myself from my colleagues, both female and male.   
  • The Table – Earning And Keeping My Place: In any organization, it takes hard work to succeed. However, do I demonstrate that I look at things differently as well as strategically? Do I understand what is happening vertically and horizontally for the organization, for the industry? Am I viewed as an honest broker who provides sound judgment to the organization?
  • Opportunities and Risks: There are moments of opportunities. However, do I actively put myself in the way of opportunities? Do I identify as well as mitigate any risks attendant to such opportunities?  Do I understand what risks I can manage versus the ones I cannot? Do I take the opportunity despite certain risks?

The WLC was created to provide the forum for women leaders to meet their contemporaries and top leaders in various industries across the Greater Houston area.  As with the event with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, WLC events provide sponsorship and networking opportunities. WLC events range from “Net @ Nite” events to table talks to more formal events with panel discussions and featured speakers, focusing on topics from the art of negotiation and leadership to self-discovery and the interplay of one’s professional and personal lives. What makes the WLC different is that the group is not dedicated to one type of profession or industry, but has members representing a variety of industries (40 at last count), which provides the opportunity to learn from peers and mentors as well as build a broad-based network to succeed in today’s world. 

Sharon M. Beausoleil is Senior Associate, Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and Steering Committee Member, Women’s Leadership Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership.