Shaping my leadership journey with power and impact

4 minute read

Self development

I selected the Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Programme as part of my personal self-development and continuing professional development (CPD). Having spent a number of years in management roles, I recognised the importance of extending my leadership skills and saw the benefits of undertaking a programme designed to address the unique challenges that female leaders face. After researching several options, I decided to proceed with this specific programme, based on the credibility of Saïd Business School, the curriculum’s content that complemented previous development work I’d undertaken, and the self-paced online option, allowing me to fit learning around my own schedule. 

The modules and accompanying assignments did take up an estimated 9-12 hours each week. For anyone considering the six-week programme - I would recommend ensuring a solid commitment to a significant amount of time and energy to make the most of this opportunity. The benefits I received made this commitment extremely worthwhile and I would highly recommend this to any current or aspiring female leader.

Significant impact

The most significant impact of the programme is that I now truly see and accept myself as a leader, recognising the agency I have to effect change. I was introduced to a variety of powerful concepts and models to become conscious of drawing on in my future leadership practice. It also helped me to challenge myself and consider what impact I want to play in the future as a female leader. I grew in awareness of personal strengths, leadership, influencing and negotiation styles and preferences. I discovered how I can play to these while also consciously considering context-appropriate alternatives rather than automatically reverting to my default. It also heightened my awareness of others - for example, those I’m seeking to influence/engage with and what their preferences might be. I’m also now more mindful of the value of considering the context I’m working within and the influencing factors (eg culture). I particularly enjoyed the video series featuring a diverse group of global female leaders sharing their experiences and insights. I gleaned many practical takeaways including the idea of striving for excellence rather than perfection.

Since completing the programme

Since completing the programme, I have remained conscious of opportunities that will support my leadership development, for example putting myself forward for stretch assignments, being more vocal and speaking up, and identifying relevant people to connect with. The insights I gained have given me the confidence, permission and drive to become more visible both internally and externally, to seek opportunities to challenge myself, and to become a stronger advocate for myself and other women.

It has reinforced the need to continue investing in myself, including taking time for personal reflection, regularly requesting feedback and engaging with other female leaders who I can learn from. Importantly, I now feel more equipped to have courageous conversations. I see the value of mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in a new light and I’m resolved to no longer view these as ‘nice to have’ extras but a vital part of both my ongoing development and a way I can give back to others.

The significance of developing, extending and strengthening my network further has been invaluable and I continue to be open to actively identifying individuals to connect with, events to attend and communities to become part of. As I interact with others, I’ve been reminded of reciprocity, seeking ways to offer my support.

I left with a number of important questions to answer including: Who do I want to be as a leader? What do I stand for? What’s my vision for myself? My purpose? Where and how can I make a meaningful impact in both my life and that of others? What areas do I need to develop further that align with this and how will I put this into action? What role will self-care take in my life, what does it look like and how will I prioritise this? How can I become a master of my craft to add greater value while realising my learning and development is an ongoing journey?

I now see leadership as a practice. The programme provided space to clarify my priorities regarding my future development and identified what’s next for me to ensure I’m more closely aligned with my values. It opened up new perspectives, approaches and shifted my thinking. I walked away with greater clarity, inspiration and empowerment. Overall, it has delivered a truly powerful experience that will continue to shape both the leader I am and the leader I want to become.

Oxford Women’s Leadership Development programme