WLI Day 2–The Political is Personal

As another long day at the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) comes to a close, my head is spinning with all of the great lectures, plenary sessions and 1-1 conversations with women at all different levels and functional roles.

One major takeaway for me today is the power of harnessing our own innate skills and applying them to our professional toolkit.

In the Women of Power and Influence panel, Carmen Vazquez, Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of San Diego said something that really struck me:

“Are you a mom, a sister or a daughter?  Then you already know how to navigate politics.”

While this initially elicited a chuckle from the audience, one glance at my #WLI11 cohort revealed that her words rang so true.  As the only child born to my Italian, single, mother I do so much negotiation in terms of figuring out which course of action to employ, words to say and decisions to make regarding family problems and challenges.  I examine every angle and all of the facts and determine how to approach particularly difficult situations in a way that is a win-win for everyone involved.

It takes that same combination of 360 degree thinking when dealing with politics in the workplace although it is an area that I am not as skilled in.  While I confidently navigate my familial challenges, I can initially shy away or not pick up on subtle political environments as they unfold around me.  Why is it that I do not use all of the skills I have acquired in my role as a daughter and apply them to negotiating the political landscape more effectively?  I don’t know the answer to that quite yet, but at least I have started to ask this question of myself!

I had never thought of my discussions with family members in way that had transferable skills to my work life.  When we initially enter the workplace we may think that we do not have the experience of working with politics but in fact we work within political networks everyday in some form or fashion.

What skills have evolved naturally in your personal life that you could leverage in your professional life?  How can you maximize these in your current position?


Follow more of the conversation at #WLI11

About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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4 Responses to WLI Day 2–The Political is Personal

  1. @E_Nunn says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your reflections from WLI Ann Marie. I would have never considered the role I have in my family as transferable either. As the middle child (and the known level headed one that considers everyone’s POV) I do this! Makes you ponder what else transfers to your work life that you don’t realize…

  2. I agree–where else can we use our personal skills in our work life?? I intend to explore this more in the future 🙂

    Thanks so much for reading!

  3. @kmrothfeld says:

    Ann Marie-Thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections from #WLI11. Reading this post makes me realize that my navigating the waters in terms of my family politics can be a transferable skill into the work place. Now to put these skills to use once I find the right fit of a job ;-).

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