Last month, I had the opportunity to attend SWE eXXec, a three-day executive leadership program focusing on Leading Self, Leading People, and Leading Change. At a class size of fourteen, it was more intimate than a typical conference and I enjoyed getting to know amazing women from across the country with all different engineering backgrounds. It was hosted at the EMC2, an inspiring art and science themed hotel in downtown Chicago. In addition to our training, we bonded over morning yoga, delicious meals, and a river cruise complete with fireworks.
Our first full day focused on Leading Self. Executive coach Mary Nelson walked us through how to interpret and apply our Hogan Leadership Assessment results. I loved how she emphasized that there is no best score or most desirable traits for leadership – it depends on the culture of your organization as well as the ability to recognize your own derailers and tendencies. For example, I learned that scoring high on the “Adjustment” scale means that I am optimistic and remain calm under pressure, however, I should watch out for over-committing my team and be sure to show empathy when they are stressed. Talking to the other participants about their results helped me to better understand the merits of different personality traits, many of which I see reflected in my colleagues.
My favorite moment of the weekend was during Terra Winston’s session on Leading People, in which she taught us how to ask powerful questions during career coaching sessions. A brave volunteer from our group let us take turns asking her about a real-life problem she was having at work. With Terra’s guidance, we witnessed her come to a new conclusion about how to address the issue. We also practiced strategies for providing feedback with radical candor.
The final day was all about Leading Change, and who better to speak on this topic than Rose Hollister – a leadership consultant with a storied career in organizational change. She led us through an exercise in which we identified the sponsors, “change team members”, targets, and stakeholders for a change we want to make. One of my main takeaways was the importance of making the business case in a way that your sponsors understand how it relates to their priorities.
Our facilitator Dr. Kim Warren Martin encouraged us to reflect at the end of each day by challenging us to write down just one thing we could do differently based on what we had learned. This helped me to avoid information overload and to come away from the event with a few memorable action items.
If you are wanting to grow your leadership network and develop skills around leading yourself, leading people, or leading change, I recommend attending eXXec. Registration is open for the 2023 program in Chicago on June 26-29. Learn more about it at exxec.swe.org.