Women in Leadership — how to elevate your influence

women talking across a table

When I was a 30-year-old mother and career-driven director at IWK Children’s Hospital, I was mistaken for the paper-boy by a staff member’s mother when dropping off documents at her house one Saturday afternoon.

While this was a humbling and somewhat amusing experience, it was not unusual in the upswing of my career to feel underestimated and dismissed. In the same vein, years later, I was advised to increase my executive presence. “By all means,” I said. “Just how do I accomplish that?” I was encouraged to watch another woman who exudes executive presence and replicate. For the record — that is not good advice.   

Now, after years of diverse leadership experience working and volunteering in a variety of sectors, I am confident in my authentic professional brand, but that wasn’t always the case. Today, as I advise my daughters to embrace their chosen professional paths and aspire to be strong leaders, I realize that elevating your influence can not only be taught, but also practiced and achieved early in life.

As a facilitator of a breakthrough program called Elevating Women in Leadership, a unique opportunity exclusively for women to reflect, connect, and make choices about their impact, I know that the resources are finally available to achieve this. With insights that have been gleaned through years of work with Global, Canadian and U.S. Fortune 500 companies, combined with world-class development in contemporary gender diversity research, this type of programming is extremely effective, and currently vital in enabling the success of women in leadership. 

The program asks participants to consider that their experience is their best teacher; to consider their life story and jot down those milestone moments that have shaped the leader they are today — both good and bad. Understanding this connection between the highs and lows of their career enables the aspiring leader to chart their future success.  

The idea of women coming together in a small, supportive group and tapping into their inner power through thoughtful discussion, reflection and commitment to change, has never been more relevant. Significant topics covered within this groundbreaking program include: discovering leadership impact, defining a personal vision, practicing powerful presence, speaking with a point of view, developing resilience and boundaries, and increasing sphere of influence. As a result, participants walk away from this high-impact experience with insight into their performance and perceived potential, alongside a comprehensive leadership plan and the confident mindset required to achieve it.   

In addition, the articulation of a personal mantra (a statement that summarizes an individual’s spirit and challenges them as a leader) can also serve as a source of leadership empowerment. I’ve had a few — one that has always served me well is, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Today, I as I work to secure a professional legacy, “make a difference” is often more prominent. An impactful mantra aligns with personal values and can be highly effective for inspiration and motivation, both personally and professionally.

As today’s society continues to evolve, I doubt you’ll be mistaken for a paper-boy or find yourself advised to copy others, however, the path for women in leadership continues to present both challenge and opportunity. To ensure each one of us is heard and our reach is wide, we need to help each other.  

Interested in learning more about Elevating Women in Leadership?

Learn more about our upcoming sessions.


Catherine J. Woodman
Catherine J. Woodman, APR, ICD.D

As an Associate within KBRS's consulting practice, Catherine’s approach to leadership development is informed by her uniquely diverse leadership experience in public relations and human resource management across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. A well-respected leader, Catherine has a track record of achieving results by building teams, creating and communicating vision, forging partnerships, and meeting critical challenges through transformational change.