Taking Female Leadership by the Reins

by Rose Bloomfield

This September, something special will take place at Wisteria Acres in British Columbia, and it’s not just time with the horses. From Friday September 29th through Sunday evening on the 1st of October, Marion Chapsal and her co-facilitator Evelyn McKelvie will guide eight willing and ready women on a journey to find – or fine-tune – their public voice and take the stage alongside, you guessed it, horses. They call this workshop and retreat “The Heroine’s Journey”.

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In Evelyn’s June article on “Slaying the Dragon of Fear”, it’s clear that she and Marion share a synergy in their coaching mission even though they come from opposite ends of the pond, as in Canada and France.

Excuse me? Let me back up. Like Marion, Evelyn is a longtime Leadership Coach, working with Corporate Executives mainly through facilitating retreats. However, she is also the Founder of Equine Coach, an organization which “focuses on leadership development, mindfulness, and enhanced communication skills through working and playing with horses”.

She sees how spending hands-on time with horses is a transformational learning opportunity that connects people back to nature and their own intuitive emotional intelligence.

In Evelyn’s words: “Whether or not you are a corporate leader, an entrepreneur, a teacher, an aspiring politician or activist, or a mom who wants to be a role model for her daughter”, being comfortable speaking with a microphone, being filmed or taking the stage in any way is key to building and flourishing in a career.

Marion Chapsal, Chief Learning Officer and creator of Women on Stage, is also fully aware of this truth. Why? Because having worked with countless professionals including young female entrepreneurs to global political leaders, her life’s work is dedicated in many ways to nourishing and reinforcing women’s power and presence in their life and work, on or off-stage.

When answering the question “Why women only workshops?” Marion answers:

  • Women really get to speak! They’re less likely to be interrupted, and if they are, they will not remain silent as they might when interrupted by a man.

  • Women more easily overcome their self-censorship in a safe environment of their female peers, which enables a sense of trust and transparency.

  • Women have the space to identify specific issues and personal/professional needs.

  • Women develop a collaborative conversation and weave a support network.

She goes on to share that “as a result, once we [women] have addressed the psycho-sociological factors and established trust and belonging, with a bit of technique and ongoing practice and growing awareness, every woman can cultivate a voice that’s strong, clear, resonant and effective.” Marion goes deeper on the subject of gender-balanced leadership in her talk at TEDxStuttgart, using the age-old story of Goldilocks in a less traditional way.

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So, we see there is an important alchemy in [women-only spaces] (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-women-only_us_58d04f10e4b07112b64730e4), like The Heroine’s Journey, for their ability to maximize individual transformation through gender-common group intention and action. That said, this newly generated energy and confidence must certainly not stay limited to the space between women.

Like a roaring fire starts at the level of an ember, tended by a gentle and consistent source of air, female leadership can be sparked among female peers but must grow to illuminate all in a mix of environments and audiences.

So how did two women with rather unique coaching backgrounds decide to blend their passion and expertise in a three-day workshop?

“When I first met Marion early in 2016 we talked for hours about our passions and strengths in the work we do. I knew Marion had a unique and powerful model that helps women cross that threshold and take centre stage with comfort. Our overlapping areas of interest around Presence meant that soon we were planning a joint retreat that exploits the power of our two modalities - being on the stage and being in the round pen.” Words by Evelyn McKelvie.

I hear there are still a few places left. So, if this calls to you, or makes you think of a friend, manager or colleague who would benefit, you can find details and registration here. And, with TED 2018 in Vancouver coming up, I can just imagine the presentations brewing or in brainstorm phase that would flourish in this type of workshop.

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"A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman." - Melinda Gates.