Conducting Greatness: The Poetry of Leadership & Teamwork in Motion by Sharon E. Reed

This evening I attended my son’s school band concert, part of a school-wide ‘night of the arts’.  There was a drama group, displays of visual art, a symphonic orchestra, and the beginning, intermediate and advanced concert bands.  My son plays the tuba, new to the instrument after having given up the trumpet earlier in the year, in part, his dad and I secretly believe, to be closer to his friends, or perhaps even a girl he likes (though he swears it’s not true).

The school itself, like many of the band’s performers, is relatively new, too.  Two years old, to be exact.  I mention this because the school and the band are in the process of building their traditions, starting from the ground up, though with clearly defined values and a powerful vision for greatness.  It is a special school on many levels, hearts and minds united in service to create a globally aware and civic-minded community of leaders and learners.

Our school’s band director and her students are no exception.  Tonight as I watched them perform, I couldn’t help but see through a different kind of lens…not just the lens of a proud mother, but a lens which enabled me to see something more at play.  Something deeper.  Something richer.  Something that resonated deep within.

One conductor, thirty something kids.  Different instruments, different sounds, different capabilities, different tempos, different personalities.  And yet despite these differences, the conductor was able to differentiate between and respond to them all.  It was situational leadership 101 in action.  As she prepared them to start, she knew, for example, that one was slightly out of tune, while another needed focus.  She knew who needed encouragement, and who could be counted on to carry their own part.  She understood that each performer had an equally important role in bringing this music to life; in creating the collective beauty of each individual note.  Without them, there would be no music, simply black and white notes on a page.

A few quick adjustments made, the concert began as she smiled at her students, exuding a deep joy from within.  She was, without question, leading from her heart-centered place, as I have always seen her do.  With a seemingly effortless wave of her baton, she conducted these disparate parts to greatness.  One crescendo here, a little more staccato there.  It was all coming together beautifully.  As I watched her, I could feel the momentum building.  My eyes shifted away from her and to the students.  Under her steady influence, they were focused, deliberate, intentional, and joyful.  They knew their own part, yet had an audible vision of the whole.  Practice prepared them for performance and it was clear they respected their leader.  In that moment, I marveled in wonder.  Not just at my son’s or others’ performance; not just of the melodious sounds of the band in concert, but at the poetry of leadership and teamwork in motion.

Along this journey called life, we all have an opportunity to be leaders, learners, and teammates; to work collectively together to achieve a greater good; to be a model for influencing positive change.  As you reflect on this story, consider the following questions:  what role(s) do you play in your own life?  Are you a conductor of greatness, harnessing the collective talent of many, or do you see yourself as a performer, playing your part on the larger stage that is life?  Are your choices aligned with your core strengths and values?  Are they part of a larger vision?  Who is the conductor in your own life?

Women Leaders Help the World to Thrive

Shared from Sevenly's GoodFeed.

Martha Mertz, founder of ATHENA International, understood the challenges and opportunities of women in leadership.

“Women Lead.  We may not always get credit for it, or paid for it, or thanked for it – but in more ways and places at any other time in human history, women lead,” she said in her important book called Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.

“Women today are CEOs and college presidents, generals and bishops, media moguls and opinion leader” It’s time to recognize and savor this new truth: we are seeing the emergence of a distinctive, transforming style of leadership, on that was conceived and created by women.” 

Mertz concludes by noting an important observation.  “The point is no longer just that women lead.  What’s important is how women lead – and how everyone, gender aside, can use what women know about leadership to thrive in the twenty-first century.”

ATHENA International recognizes that women can achieve a worldwide balance of leadership only if women leaders are recognized, cultivated, and encouraged. The organization has created programs designed to accomplish those objectives, community by community, and country by country.

In 1982, Mertz created the first ATHENA Leadership Award after realizing that no woman in her community was considered to be a leader.  Martha was a visionary who believed that every community had women leaders behind the scenes.  The purpose of the ATHENA® Leadership Award was to publicly acknowledge the strengths and contributions of women as leaders within their local community. That program sparked a movement.

Since that first award in 1982, ATHENA® International has successfully expanded its award and mentoring programs to recognize successful women in business and the community in support of its mission of supporting, developing and honoring women leaders.  ATHENA® Awards have been given to over 8,100 individuals in 500 communities and 8 countries.   

Through development programs, ATHENA® International continues to cultivate the next generation of leaders though a framework of mentoring, modeling and experiential learning. Our global vision build a community of women supporting women to amplify our vision of balanced leadership worldwide.

- Andrea Conner, President of ATHENA International

Sevenly is proud to highlight and celebrate their work in collaboration with other women artisans through it’s WOMEN’S ACHIEVEMENT Collection.  Shop here, and help “Break Some Glass” (ceilings!) with us.



Tips on Leading from Wonder Woman

Written by guest contributor, Laura Liswood. Liswood is the Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders in Washington, D.C. Liswood received the Global ATHENA Leadership Award in 1998.

She apologizes only once in the entire movie and that is when she accidentally uses her super power of crossing her arms and knocks her aunt Captain Antiope (played by the powerful, graceful Robin Wright, the best warrior on Themysciras). Wonder Woman has a sponsor and mentor in Captain Antiope and a role model of a battle scarred, majestic and fearless leader to emulate.

How does Wonder Woman, (Gal Gadot) learn to be a leader? Like all leaders do. Practice, feedback, trial, practice, feedback, and more difficult trials are the building blocks of her leadership foundation. She gets hurt, her pride is wounded and she is exhorted to dig deeper and become more confident. She is told she is better than that and she has the potential to become great. Wonder Woman, even as a young girl knows what she wants to has a passion and determination to achieve and she goes about learning the skills needed to succeed.

As the movie proceeds she shows no sign of stereotype threat. (Stereotype threat describes the experience of “being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype of one’s group” his social-psychological phenomenon has been shown to significantly decrease the performance of persons who belong to negatively stereotyped groups). She has never been taught, heard, watched a TV show, been objectified or been trolled on social media where the message was that women are inferior to men or cannot perform as well as men. Her world is not divided into gendered roles; her world is divided into roles needed by the society she lives in.

She is a full equal human being and her life has been equally full of strong determined clear spoken women, who are senators, decision makers and a queen (her mother) who rules with wisdom and concern. She doesn’t spend her life obsessed by the need to look beautiful for the other or to sublimate herself to attract a man. (Later we find that she knows that men are needed for procreation but not necessarily for pleasure). She does fall in love with a man but on her terms.

On the battlefield when she confronts those who are trying to eliminate her being, Wonder woman literally and figuratively deflects bullets being shot at her. She can withstand the fuselage as many women leaders learn early on to deflect the critics, skeptics, the name calling, categorizing, over scrutiny that come their way when they seek or accept power and its roles. In fact, she holds her power in plain sight when she slips the magic sword into the back of her dress; it is ignored by the men in the room.