Risking an unfounded generalization, I’d like to think that one of women’s natural strengths is being an enabler. I am thinking of my mom when I say this, so you can expect the bias.
I write this post as dedication to a dear friend’s mom, a teacher and principal, who passed away last year and who would’ve celebrated her birthday yesterday. I chatted with my friend last night, knowing it’s one of those days she’ll probably feel the absence most. I told her I missed her mom’s private messages to me. She told me she just checked her mom’s Facebook account and read the private messages. She found out most of her mom’s messages were to inspire and encourage other people. It seems like this trait comes so naturally for mothers and teachers.
This feature is also dedicated to all the women who were enablers, but who we may never know because they were overshadowed by the successes of the people they empowered.
She was the first pilot instructor of the very famous and inspiring Amelia Earhart. One must know that Amelia wasn’t a great flyer at the beginning. So in a way, we can attribute part of her success to the teacher.
Such association to Amelia is both a blessing and a curse though.
- She made a name for being Amelia’s teacher. Her autobiography “I Taught Amelia to Fly” aptly captures the essence of her fame, she was forever linked to the Earhart mystique as her first instructor.
- But this position had cast a shadow on her other achievements, notable as well. She was a pioneer aviator who had a long list of firsts.
- First woman aviator in Iowa
- First woman student accepted at the Curtiss Flying School in Virginia
- First woman aviator to run her own aviation business
- First woman to run a commercial airfield.
“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
This was the line that launched the name of Principal Lopez. It was an interview of Vidal, one of the boys in her school, by Humans of New York. She is the principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, and the name behind the movement The Lopez Effect.
I found this story quite inspiring, and wrote a post about HONY. After my post, this group went on to be interviewed by Ellen, got an avalanche of support, and eventually landed at the Oval Office for a meeting with the U.S. President Obama, no less.
I include her in this set because she is my most inspiring enabler. She runs a school in an impoverished and high-crime neighborhood in New York, whose students feel that with their circumstances, there is no future for them. And yet, here they are, raising more than $1M, 10x the fund they initially set just to send 1 class to a Harvard field trip. She is a leader, a student developer, a believer, a great role model not only for all teachers and educators.
“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”
For the 3rd woman in this set, I wanted a coach because they’re the best example of what an enabler can do. A coach can spot a potential, can translate her faith in a talent to newfound confidence in the person, can stir emotions that can drive a person, even an entire team, to go beyond their expectations of themselves. A coach is a leader, a people developer, a driver, a champion of the champion.
Automatically, I have 3 sports coaches in my choices, with Pat Summitt the most compelling of all. But Pat was already featured in SHE-LOGY this week by blogger Lisa of Rebirth of Lisa in “JOAN PAT TAMIKA“.
Then it dawned on me that I don’t know any female leadership coach. I can’t believe myself, how could I not have noticed this. All my career life, I’ve mentored people at work largely influenced by the leadership principles of John Maxwell. In fact, I met him in person. I realized that the leadership gurus I can name or recognize are, all of them (gasp!), male. Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard,Marcus Buckingham (who have since made me focus on my strengths), Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Welch, Jack Canfield (all-time favorite), Dale Carnegie, Peter Drucker, and more pastors. And even when I found female names in the lists, no one rings a bell. So after going through lists and watching videos of speeches, here’s the first I’d like to get to know more and learn from. She has the most engaging speech among the ones I’ve seen and really speaks to me.
ROSABETH MOSS KANTER. A professor of business at Harvard Business School and director and chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative. She was the top-ranking woman – #11 overall – in a 2002 study of Top Business Intellectuals. (Source: Wikipedia).
One of the “50 most influential business thinkers in the world” by Accenture and Thinkers 50 research.
“I try to provide other people with tools for making the world a better place by giving them leadership skills"
Six Keys to Leading Positive Change: show up, speak up, look up, team up, never give up, and lift others up.
//Who is your top female leadership guru? Any recommendations for me?
SHE-LOGY is a blog project open to everyone who is interested to celebrate women this whole month of March. If you’re reading this, I extend that invitation to you to contribute post/s about the women you’d like to honor. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading this.