When I think of the essential ideas of transformational leadership, I believe that someone deserving of that title is someone authentic, innovative, resilient, and integrative. Authentic leaders are not afraid of sharing where they have come from, what they went through, and how they want to use their experiences to inspire others to show them that they too can be more than life experiences, especially on those days they spent picking up the pieces to rebuild themselves on days where life was most challenging, and for some that a day where maybe they didn't even want to live. Innovative Leaders are people who are not afraid to deconstruct, take things apart, and find new approaches to and strategies that move forward to success, and with that comes the understanding of trial and error and most importantly understanding the concept of stepping up and step back which is the idea of listening to others and allowing your team to help make decisions collectively. An Innovative leader inspires and empowers. A transformative Leader a Resilient Leader who understands their sense of worth. They are vulnerable and are not afraid to let themselves be known. They are confident and are okay with taking different approaches if one doesn't work, they know and believe that another will. They are continuously working on building their strength. Lastly, a real leader is going to practice Unity. They are going to be compassionate, build connections, network, and show courage. They are going to make their team feel like they belong together and they are going to build trust.
These ideas relate to each other in a lot of ways, but the main concept of these ideas is the thought that one is inextricably linked to the other, which means that you can not practice one without the influence of another, they are inseparable. Ideally, the forces that act on these ideas, strongly come from a personal background and yet are heavily influenced by the work I do every day, which is to always strive to allow girls to live in their skin and to push them to be the best versions of themselves that they can be daily, knowing that they have the support they need. Over the past couple of years, as an individual, I have been working hard to overcome various attributes that have led to my Depression and Anxiety. Over time, I learned that it was a mixture of various traumatic events, toxic relationships, and my daily routine that was contributing to it as well. Like most women, myself included, I was taking on too much than I could handle at a certain time; I wanted to be and do a million things at once while not realizing that I was slowly making my life miserable. Many times, women can take on so many roles and responsibilities, that we forget to remind ourselves that we can only handle so much or do so many things at a time. With that baggage we can get stressed, have anxiety, or even be diagnosed with depression, most of the time symptoms we ignore until it's too late.
As a Program Coordinator for an elite nonprofit organization in Milwaukee, I have the pleasure of being a part of a team that serves over 1000 girls within a programming school year. Those are HUGE shoes to fill. In our programming, we focus on giving back to the community, building relationships with others, encouraging girls and helping them feel empowered when making decisions about their futures, and most of all, showing them that loving yourself is a beautiful thing, especially if you are working hard to be the version of yourself you can be. Being in such a position can be rather difficult and exhausting if we don't take care of ourselves properly and I find myself saying, “How can I tell the girls and mentor them into being the best version of themselves they can be if I am not practicing what I preach?” It doesn't make sense. I want to understand specifically with the line of work I do, what are some of the common roadblocks we face in life and how are we taking care of them in addition to standing up to the challenges in our line of work.
With that being said, I ask “What are the lived experiences and strategies employed by women from diverse backgrounds in mentor-like positions within non-profit organizations to maintain authenticity in their leadership styles? How do these women define authenticity, and what specific strategies, actions, and behaviors do they undertake to ensure its consistent practice in their leadership roles?" My research will impact my practice by allowing me to understand the similarities and dissimilarities among women and to help young women and girls navigate toward a better lifestyle. Moreso, to help them understand that there is a PURPOSE Attached to their name.