Our work started in 2013. It was around the time Sheryl Sandberg published Lean In, a book that pointed out how progress on the women’s leadership front was moving much slower than expected. Reading the book reminded me of when I left Wall Street in 1996, expecting the presence of women in leadership positions would be much further along by 2013. Time and again, in conversations with my women coaching clients, the same theme of slow change surfaced.
We wondered why this was the case despite the multitude of women’s leadership programs that Corporate America had invested in. With greater reflection we developed a hypothesis, and later a conviction, that while many women’s leadership programs produced helpful skills for women leaders, the programs were geared toward adapting women to male ways of being and acting in the workplace. Not only were most of these programs missing the mark, they came at a high intrinsic cost to women leaders and the corporations where they worked.
Ambitious, career-oriented women pay an immense hidden price in navigating workplace norms that are more conducive to men’s natural ways of being. The unconscious impact of both the symbolic and direct messages sent make “women’s leadership” an oxymoron to the unconscious mind.
We believe the true path to helping women leaders is to have them embrace their most authentic and powerful selves through engaging in deeper work that is only possible with the employment of unconventional and counterintuitive methodologies. Our WLC approach supports growth and development at both the cognitive and unconscious levels. This journey of deep discovery and excavation, done in a communal setting, is critical to cultivating a truly wholehearted way of being for women leaders. In turn these women can then contribute in the most meaningful way to their organizations while creating innovative and inclusive cultures that create dynamic communities of belonging, learning, and enhanced engagement by all.
Thus is the short history of WLC’s quest to provide women with the opportunity to engage in unique, deep and beautiful work – and through them, to generate collective wisdom throughout their worlds.