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Women in Leadership: Reflections from Wise Women

This weekend was our Alumnae Weekend- a time when we welcome alumnae from the 40s through to 2012 and it always brings us a great sense of pride as well as many wise perspectives.

Friday morning’s assembly set the tone with Valerie Spencer Keyes ’73 speaking to our community about Women in Leadership. Valerie was the first woman to graduate from the Royal Military College of Canada and she now works in the Department of National Defence as the Director, Headquarters Integration and Strategic Requirements.

Ms Keyes was candid and honest as she shared her perspectives on leadership and we were all left with much to consider:

  • We are all born leaders- what makes a difference is how we use our talents
  • Leaders have to be themselves and believe in themselves. You can’t act as a leader unless you believe in what you are doing
  • A leader has to care about others, not necessarily in an emotional way, but from an intellectual stance
  • A good leader has to know how- and when- to take risks. To do so you need to have confidence and courage and a sense of what impact your actions will have on other people and circumstances
  • A leader has to be able to accept praise and blame in equal measure
  • Leaders need the ability to make decisions based on the analysis of available options
  • There is no substitute for the ability to communicate and knowing how to adapt your style of communications to the situation at hand
  • Leaders will often be called upon to make sacrifices- of time, of energy, of freedom- in order to allow success. This means having a strong personal sense of values and ethics on which to build your own direction and ability to cope with challenges over what might be an extended period of time

Ms Keyes’ words will remain with me and, I suspect, our community. It is for this reason, and many others, that I appreciate the connection with our alumnae and the benefits they bring as role models and guides for the young women of St. Clement’s School.

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