Learning to lead authentically at our WIBLI Winter Symposium

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 02/06/2020

Symposium featured keynote from Trish Millines Dziko, Co-founder & Executive Director of Technology Access Foundation

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Photo by James Nguyen

Exemplary leaders communicate effectively in countless relationships at the organizational level and in their communities. No matter your role in an organization, leading with your voice will help you build relationships, solve problems, and get your work done.

At our Women in Business & Leadership Initiative Winter Symposium, we heard from leaders in our community about how they developed their own voices. They also shared their advice for leading authentically and effectively.  

Kimberly Harden, Founder and CEO of Harden Consulting Group, LLC, Zulna L. Heriscar, Senior Product Marketing Manager with Microsoft, and Ellie Wu, Senior Director of Customer Experience Transformation with SAP Concur, discussed why leading with your voice is a core leadership principle. Then, Polly Davis with the King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Kim Ford with Community Passageways discussed leading through conflict. Our keynote Trish Millines Dziko, Co-founder and Executive Director of Technology Access Foundation, spoke about lessons learned on the way to finding her voice. 

Three key takeaways from our speakers: 

  • People know when you are genuine

In our first panel, moderator Kimberly Harden directed a discussion about leading through authenticity with Zulna L. Heriscar and Ellie Wu. “Authenticity means that I show up as my whole person,” said Zulna. “When I walk into a room, I’m not splitting myself.” Ellie observed that authenticity is tied closely to trust, and that building high-performing teams means building trust. She encouraged leaders to ask themselves, “How vulnerable can people be around you?” Both speakers agreed that when you’re authentic, you shine, and that people can tell when you’re being genuine.

  • Identify strengths and focus on them during conflict

Kim Ford discussed the importance of handling conflict in a healthy way and how best to ready yourself for and approach conflict. You can’t resolve conflict at a personal deficit, Kim said, so it is important to give yourself care first. Kim also noted that the best thing you can do in a conflict situation is to empathize and recognize others’ strengths, instead of trying to problem-solve. This lays the foundation for both parties to look beyond the box of the conflict as they work toward a resolution. Polly Davis then shared conflict resolution and empathy tools, summarized below:

  1. Listen
  2. Relax
  3. Put the speaker at ease
  4. Remove distractions
  5. Empathize
  6. Be patient
  7. Avoid personal prejudice
  8. Listen to the tone
  9. Listen for ideas
  10. Watch for non-verbal communication
  • Building and keeping trust in yourself is key

Our keynote, Trish Millines Dziko, spoke frankly about her personal journey and shared her lessons learned about effective leadership. Asked about self-doubt and imposter syndrome, she said it comes down to looking around the room and realizing, 'I belong here.' “You can’t be anyone else, so be the best you. And the best you has to be good enough,” said Trish. She encouraged attendees to take self-confidence one day at a time, and stressed that in the end, having your voice and using it means absolutely nothing if you’re not using it for the good of the whole.


About Women in Business and Leadership Initiative (WIBLI): Women in Business and Leadership Initiative (WIBLI) events and programs inspire, educate, and connect Seattle-area women at all levels of their careers. Through our events, we aim to empower Seattle-area professionals to create significant change for themselves, their workplaces and their communities around gender equity issues, including closing our region’s gender wage gap.