Celebrating International Women’s Day!

by Sandra Lizioli

Where better to have celebrated Women’s Day than at Artful Orators? To mark the occasion, which coincidentally fell on the same day as our March 8 meeting, we invited Michèle Mees, founder of the Centre for Balanced Leadership, to host an Artful Orators Special session on gender balance in the second half of the meeting.


Now in its tenth year, Michèle told us why she started the company. Described by some as a man in woman’s clothes, she was often the only woman in the room. This got her thinking: why? What are the qualities of a good leader? How is a female leader different? Is it simply about men versus women, or more about feminine versus masculine traits that, when balanced, bring out the best in all of us as leaders?

She asked us the same questions. Here’s how we answered:

Masculine traits: I speak, I’m goal-oriented, results and action driven, competitive, risk taker and assertive.

Feminine traits: I listen, I’m nurturing and caring, collaborative, intuitive, creative, holistic big-picture, asking “Why?” and “How?”

As you’re reading this, do you recognise these traits? We all demonstrate both and they’re interchangeable. At times we can be competitive and driven, at other times we can be collaborative and nurturing. This is why Michèle talks about balanced leadership: being able to identify the differences between the masculine and feminine traits in a leader and balancing both depending on the circumstances and environment.

To end the session, we all did a self-scan to discover how balanced we really are and where we are on the balanced leadership spectrum. On a sheet of paper were statements of opposing energies: masculine to the far left, feminine to the far right. E.g.:

Masculine energy: I perceive what differentiates us, I take risks, I decide based on facts and figures, I like to take action, I want to compete/win.

Feminine energy: I perceive what connects us, I act cautiously, I rely on my intuitive sense, I like to reflect, I want to share/cooperate.

The closer to the dotted line in the middle, the more balanced we are as leaders. Most of us had squiggly lines, moving from masculine to feminine traits.

It was a fun exercise that got us all reflecting on where we see ourselves versus how others see us! In only a short session we covered a lot of ground and everyone agreed: feminine leadership traits are undervalued!

It’s contest season!

Yes, we had a Club Contest at Arful Orators! And Hilary Peden was a wonderful Contest Chair. Marzena invited judges from other clubs to cast their votes. And we even had a General Evaluator, Valentina Caimi, who gave excellent feedback to each of the contestants (speakers and evaluators) as well as the target speaker, Zsuzsanna Corridori. We like to do things differently at Artful Orators!

From left to right: Carsten Wendt, Sydney Schreiber, Hilary Peden and Sandra Lizioli… photobombed by our President Kirsten Ujvari!

Sydney was our speaking champion with a moving speech about regret.

Sydney, Carsten and Sandra gave in that order three insightful evalutions of Szuszanna’s target speech about Max, her dog … no sorry, cat, which was an entertaining and dramatic speech! Sandra won the judges’ hearts coming first, with Carsten second and Sydney third.

Sydney and Sandra will represent us at the Area Contest B1 at ToastMasterCard on Saturday 25 March. Congratulations to both of you! Break a leg!

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12 April: the theme is Powerful Visuals with guest speaker Alexis Brouard. And two invited guests from the Brussels and Armada Clubs to experience our Advanced Club: join us!

Register on easy-Speak.

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