Sheri Dew addressed an audience of thousands of Utah women of all ages at UVU on Wednesday for the final event in the Utah Women & Leadership Project Speaker and Dialogue Series this year. Her message was insightful and as always personable and pointed.
“What do I know about leadership?” she asked. “It’s hard and it’s rewarding.” She added to that a long list of other words to describe her experiences. Sheri, introduced by Elaine Dalton as an ordinary farm girl from Kansas who has developed her skills and talents through a continuous effort to grow and contribute, took all of us along on her journey of discovery.
The best leaders, she says, are both courageous and kind, attributes women are born with.
Sheri shared a number of principles of leadership that she has learned through experience, noting that she’s still learning and practicing them in her own life. Among them:
Your leadership is not about you.
A leader helps others do more than they thought they would do and also become more than they thought they could become. Look for the strengths in others and help mentor them. Sheri told of a time when she was new to a leadership position in which she was required to speak often. One of the women she served with invited Sheri one weekend to accompany her on a trip as a speaking companion. “She never said ‘You do a lousy job,'” Sheri observed with a smile. The woman simply took her along and modeled what Sheri should do. And Sheri took note. “All weekend, I watched like a hawk, and I learned.”
The best leaders are perpetual learners.
Inspired leaders learn from others and from mistakes and experiences. They’re not afraid to work with people smarter than they are. They ask good questions and want to hear real answers. If you won’t listen to others as a leader, the best you can do is the best YOU can do.
The best leaders are both courageous and kind.
Speaking of kindness, Sheri reminded us that the all people matter and deserve to be valued and respected. She quoted Colin Powell who said, “It ain’t brain surgery. Every person in an organization has value and wants that value to be recognized.” She pointed out that people want to contribute. They want to learn, and they want to help.
It is easier to motivate people to do difficult tasks than easy ones. No one is happy living beneath themselves.
As women, we were born with gifts that, if developed, will help make the world better. Sheri concluded by saying, “It’s a privilege to be a woman. The day will come when everyone will know that’s true.” Inspired leadership endures.
Daily Herald, Dew: Women are Meant to Lead.