Colleen Abdoulah is an inspirational and thought provoking former CEO with an authentic personality and the courage to do things differently at WOW! Communications in the U.S. I had the opportunity to interact with her and attend her keynote at the recent AME/CME Lean Conference in Winnipeg and was inspired, entertained, and challenged.
What I would like you to note in my story above is that not once in my description did I label her as a 'female CEO' or 'woman leader'. To me, I admire her for her character, convictions and accomplishments...not her gender.
Don't get me wrong: I fully appreciate, respect and am grateful for all of the women before me (and even now!) that took the hard knocks and fought the battle that now gives me the opportunities and freedom to follow my own dreams and passions.
I also appreciate the men who had the courage to walk alongside them in that same fight.
There are many women that I admire, and many that I don't. I can say the same for men. I don't consider myself a “women's libber" (again, see above for my appreciation for those that are), but I do consider myself an “equalist”. I don't care if you are a man, woman, white, black, or purple, I don't care about your sexual orientation or your age....but I do care if you are treated fairly and with respect.
I blame it on my upbringing. I had parents who believed in raising strong citizens, guided by character and ethics, making decisions boldly based on values and 'the right thing', and having a work ethic worthy of an honest day's pay. In our family there was one son and four daughters....and the lessons were the same for all of us. I was raised by a man who married a woman who was his equal, and they built a life and a business as partners. The worked together and they played together, and set a great example for their family. What a gift.
I am not perfect, but I am working hard to be a great example for my daughter...and my son. I am confident each of them will do bigger and better things in their lifetime that I have ever accomplished, and I will be cheering them on. Equally.
As Ms Abdoulah said in her keynote, men and women need each other to lead at our best. The diversity makes us better.