Two weeks ago, we said goodbye to our fabulous and fearless cohort of 11 women leaders. The first Power2 Leaderlab has come and gone, and as we now look to February, the start of the next Leaderlab cohort (already filling!), we’re struck with what we learned, how we’ve grown, and the depth of connections we’ve made.
Sitting together over coffee on the last morning, we found ourselves looking back, and joking over what we thought would happen, and what actually happened; what we thought we knew, and what we ended up learning.
- Our experience told us that the cohort format was a learning accelerator. We knew that nothing beats the deep learning that happens when people learn with and from each other. We knew a synergistic network effect would kick in and that seeing others’ experiences, issues, challenges, and solutions would focus the learning through a powerful magnifying lens. Check. But truly, we had no idea how powerful the group dynamic would actually be. We knew wonderful things would happen by bringing together a group of people with a high degree of leadership and expertise, but didn’t know how much magic would happen, nor the depth of collective wisdom that would be in the room. And we couldn’t have possibly anticipated just how perfect the collection of women would be. Geez.
- We knew our leadership model rested on personal development, but we didn’t know where this personal development journey would take each individual and the group as a whole. It’s a journey after all and everyone’s path is unique. We also weren’t fully cognizant of what we were asking of people. We knew we were asking them to self-reflect and dig deep, to look at their patterns and behavior, to take into account challenging feedback, and to be honest in their reflection. But we didn’t know how fully they’d dig in; we didn’t know how hard, for some, this challenge would be, and we didn’t know the degree of personal transformation some of the women would be able to make in nine months. We knew how engaged, committed, and hard-working women leaders were. We knew about their struggle to juggle competing demands, schedules, family needs, work deadlines, and self-care. But we were blown away by their capacity and commitment, and by the pressure, burdens, and stress they manage. Moreover, again and again we were astounded by how fully and forcefully they showed up, in spite of it… We knew we were gathering a great group of leaders and learners, but we didn’t know how gritty and serious they were.
- We knew our curriculum—the ideas, concepts, skills, and tools we were offering. But we didn’t know how it would come together; what would actually catch fire, and emerge as they embodied it, used it, reflected it back, and further iterated it. Some things we thought would be dynamite kind of fizzled while other things we thought were less central hit the bulls-eye.
This is the beauty and privilege of the work we do: we can plan, create, design, but only by doing, through the alchemy of our plans and the people who show up, does magic happen.
So, now, we start revising, tweaking, polishing, and making plans for the next group, knowing that no matter what we intend, the unexpected will show up and enrich and deepen whatever we have planned.