Short Time remains to register for a specialized women’s leadership program.
By Lorrie DeFrank
By collaborating with Davis College of Business (DCOB) at Jacksonville University, the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center (JWBC) significantly enhanced the services it provides to women leaders in Northeast Florida.
Jointly presented, Leadership Matters highlights accountability, mentoring and personal development skills for women business owners and other women aspiring to become more effective leaders. Participants attend seven workshops facilitated by DCOB faculty. Each are assigned a mentor to assist with specific developmental needs.
Participants of the inaugural class concur that the experience greatly boosted their self-confidence and helped them gain the knowledge, skills and ability necessary for success in their individual endeavors. The second program will begin Feb. 11 and conclude in May.
Though not a degree program, the course provides the tools and learning experience on par with JU’s commitment to excellence, said Pat Blanchard, JWBC director and a participant of the first class.
“Leadership Matters is not designed for just anybody who wants to move up the corporate ladder,” said Blanchard, explaining the competitive selection process that targets women who demonstrate existing management responsibilities and desire personal advancement or company growth.
Lead curriculum developer Matrecia S.L. James, Ph.D., JU associate dean and associate professor of management, called the collaboration powerful because both the JWBC and DCOB recognized a local void in leadership training and business development for women. “This is an opportunity for women leaders in our community to network with each other and, most importantly, to learn and refine skills that will set them apart from competitors.”
Traditional training focuses on functional skills like marketing and finance that help people succeed in their specific areas or departments. Leadership Matters also spotlights interpersonal skills that connect and convey goals, such as ethical leadership, political savvy and team building. According to James, those soft skills get leaders noticed across a whole corporation. “It’s those intangible things that make a difference, sometimes for career advancement and other times to identify personal areas women can enhance to make them overall better leaders.”
She stressed that although it’s called a women’s leadership program, the skills are useful for anyone. Workshops are in a closed group because they provide a supportive environment for women.
Experienced mentors—who include community leaders and past mentors of such JWBC programs as Financial Matters and Marketing Matters—also work with participants outside of the workshops to help them prepare personal development plans and attain their individual goals. In turn, graduates will mentor MBA students at Davis College of Business.
“Effective leaders must understand that the number one rule of leadership is to set the example. Being in charge means to have an incredible ability to influence people and to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. Therefore, influence is important because through positive influence, we can achieve desirable outcomes for the organization,” said graduate Amra Music, operations analyst, APR Energy. “The Leadership Matters program fostered fantastic workshops and mentoring opportunities for leaders within our community. Through the program, these leaders were able to improve on their skills in order to ensure their continued success in providing a positive influence within their organizations.”
How to merge two distinct leadership styles—military and civilian—was Malkia Ross’ biggest takeaway. A chief aboard the USS Farragut, Ross and her husband own Groovie Smoothie Cafe, a health food store.
“Leadership Matters was beneficial because it gave me the ability to see how women in business deal with certain situations that females in the military don’t have to worry about, such as what to wear and how to present themselves,” she said.
Ross found conversations with instructors and fellow participants inspiring and enlightening. “The experience in the room was overwhelming,” she said.
“As a small business owner in a rapidly growing business, it was helpful for me to attend this course,” said Ellen Sullivan, managing partner and territory developer with Doctors Express. “As I am currently in the midst of strategic planning for the next phase of the lifecycle of my business, this course was very timely in helping me reflect on leadership attributes necessary to take it to the next level.”
Sullivan praised the wonderful opportunity to work with other women business owners and corporate leaders under the instruction of a talented professor.
“Everyone connected with the program along with the guest speakers are seasoned, knowledgeable and willing to share their thinking,” said Sullivan, who is excited about her opportunity to mentor an MBA student. ‘What a great way to give back and help out someone working on her own business career!”
The next Leadership Matters session will start in March and will conclude in May. To apply or for more information, contact Pat Blanchard, director, Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, (904) 366-6640, or Pat.Blanchard@myjaxchamber.com.