Alison Lincoln, ICT Manager of Projects and Customers, Blackpool Council
Working in a predominately male ICT team (and a new member of senior management) I jumped at the chance of taking part in the Empowering Women programme. I had attended a few management training courses before, but when reading about it I soon realised this was going to be different. This was going to challenge me:
- in the way I thought about myself as a leader
- to think about diversity
- to enhance skills, I already had
All of which would benefit not only the teams I managed, but also the wider ICT environment.
I felt a little apprehensive walking into the room, as I thought it would be quite likely that I would be the least technical in the room; my role focuses on project management, customer service, improving the customer experience, communication, promoting new ways of working etc. Immediately I felt welcomed and at ease in the relaxed and friendly environment. It was so empowering meeting the other delegates and trainers, to learn that a good number of them had similar job roles to me and the challenges they faced were like mine.
The first two days went well and the topics we covered were really thought provoking. It made me look at myself, my values and beliefs and helped me realise that staying true to who I am and embracing my skill set can really benefit the management team, the wider ICT team and hopefully the whole council. This really helped build my self-esteem, and on returning to the office I felt more confident immediately and felt my contribution to the team was valued.
Applying what I learned
The 1:1 coaching session held a couple of months later, helped to re-enforce the leadership techniques learnt and when discussing challenges with the trainer how to put these into action.
The programme helped me:
- to recognise how diverse our service is
- how conscious or un-conscious bias exists within it but also in the whole industry
- to want to make others aware of this bias
- want to challenge and reduce unconscious bias
- empower my colleagues to be true to themselves and embrace their diversity to the benefit of the teams in which they work
Talking publicly about Empowering Women
During the programme I was lucky enough to speak at both the North West regional meeting and the President’s Conference. I loved speaking about my experience, but I didn’t think for one moment the impact my presentation would have. I was approached immediately by many people saying what a positive impact it had on them and how they had similar experiences; even more empowering was how a woman told me I had inspired her to think differently about herself and she is now attending the programme.
How I have developed professionally
Since graduating from the programme I am trying to pull all of the skills together to help me to be an effective leader; by communicating confidently, believing in myself and by empowering my colleagues and helping them understand it’s okay for us all to be different, and we all have different skills to bring to the team and this creates a great team to be part of.
I would recommend the programme to anyone who is wanting to enhance their leadership skills and understand how diversity is a great thing to have in a team and this should be embraced.