Leadership Skills at Work: Facing Your Professional Skeletons

Hexagon UX Toronto exhumed unspoken subjects at their latest sold-out event, Inspiring Halloween Heroines at TWG.

Women and non-binary folks from the Hexagon community let their professional skeletons out of the darkness and wrestled with them face-to-face by channeling and honing their leadership qualities through inspiring speed-networking sessions.

Illustration by Jen Zhang.

TWG’s headquarters brimmed with Halloween spiders, webs, and candles, but the twist in this tale was brought by topics that were usually left in the dark. Community members shed light on topics like lack of growth opportunities in an organization by sharing their “horror” stories and importantly, the leadership qualities needed to conquer them.

Here’s a look at how you can channel your leadership qualities to put these skeletons to rest.

Conquer Your Professional Skeletons

Hexagon UX Toronto wonder women (aka chapter leads) — Shiera Aryev, Andréa Crofts, and Jen Zhang — set the tone by introducing the stories of timeless female leaders and the qualities that set them apart. From Malala Yousafzai to Ada Lovelace, attendees were inspired to be brave, confident, and to persevere through their day-to-day challenges.

Inspiring Heroine cards given to each attendee. Designed with love by Andréa Crofts, illustrated by Jen Zhang.

Leading with Bravery

For situations where you might not always feel supported in your role, channel bravery. Know that you can speak up and address problem areas head-on.

In the face of adversity, either at the workplace or in life, remember Malala Yousafzai’s bravery:

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” —Malala Yousafzai

Using this as inspiration, the Hexagon community was reminded that although navigating politics in an organization can be daunting, you can break out of your shell and be the powerful voice that creates change.

Your voice matters. Don’t let fear drown it out, instead tap into your leadership skills and be brave.

Confidence and Perseverance

When it comes to working with difficult stakeholders, channeling your confidence and inner wonder woman can be immensely helpful when managing impostor syndrome or when feeling discouraged from a lack of growth opportunities in your organization.

As said by Whitney Wolfe-Herd, “There is nothing more powerful than your own conviction and belief in yourself.” By making bold moves like Wolfe-Herd, you can better manage doubt because it is only a matter of believing in yourself and in your cause. You are the difference.

Even if it feels out of character to step outside of your comfort zone, reflect on words of wisdom from Frida Kahlo:

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” — Frida Kahlo

Empathy — a UX-er’s Superpower

As UX practitioners are tightly knit into the design practices of today’s organizations, there is continuous opportunity to hone and apply the skill to empathize with others.

Having measurable impact at work as a UX practitioner often results in having a solid understanding of stakeholders’, or clients’, needs. With empathy, you put your biases aside and can better understand the needs of others. You can arrive at inclusive solutions, which result in a success for the collective, instead of just an individual.

With empathy, problems can be solved in unique, holistic ways that lead to success. With empathy, everyone can win.

Leaders Have Inspiration and Vision

When thinking about being set up for success and feeling supported in your role, it is important that you feel inspired and operate on a focused vision for yourself. Without inspiration, the energy that drives success is hard to find.

Feigning inspiration or excitement can be the spookiest situation of all. When you are excited by what you do in your day-to-day, it can make the biggest difference.

Be honest with yourself and find out what the vision for yourself may look like. Oprah Winfrey puts it like this:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Buried Subjects No More

With a welcoming environment and a safe space to share stories typically swept under the rug, our community members learned that no skeleton in the closet is scary enough to be left alone.

There is often a set of actions that you can take to remedy what it is you are going through at work. Often the foundation for these actions is the leadership skills that you already have that are waiting to be tapped into.

What will you conquer today with your leadership?

Hone the energy from Inspiring Halloween Heroines and channel it into your day-to-day.

Be it to communicate your concerns with someone you trust at work, leaning on friends, or on the Hexagon community to discuss ideas, remember that the power is always with you to continue to grow as a leader.

Remember,

“That brain of yours is something more than merely mortal, as time will show.” — Ada Lovelace

Thank You

A big thanks from Hexagon UX Toronto to our sponsors!

Inspiring Halloween Heroines wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our amazing sponsors.

We would especially like to thank our venue sponsor, TWG, for generously welcoming us into their space and helping cover the cost of food.

And of course, our gold sponsors, VitaminT and Huge, whose support enabled us to print a super cute deck of cards, all of the amazing signage and extra swag bags! ❤️

To the Hexagon UX team!

Many thanks to Bonne Bautista and Fiona Yeung for edits. A big thank you to all our volunteers, sponsors and chapter leads, Shiera Aryev, Andréa Crofts, and Jen Zhang, for putting on an awesome event. Without them this event would not have been possible.

Hexagon UX Toronto Chapter Leads and Volunteers

Hexagon UX is a community built to empower women and non-binary folks, level the playing field, and encourage them to be the best versions of themselves. Join us on Slack, where we will be continuing the conversation.