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A photo of six women on the panel of the Mainebiz Women's Leadership Forum
Panelists left to right: Sarah Belliveau – BerryDunn, Kim Anania – KMA, Jenn Lever – Baxter Brewing Co., Marcia Minter – Indigo Arts Alliance, Lindsay Skilling – Gifford’s Ice Cream, and moderator Elizabeth Ross Holmstrom, Mindful Employer


Over 300 people from Maine’s business community attended an inspiring discussion around mindful and fearless leadership at the annual Mainebiz Women’s Leadership Forum.

The five panelists addressed the topics of emotional intelligence, moving through change, building confidence, developing strong support networks, tips for managing stress and staying present for more effective decision-making, and lots of advice for other women.

Thank you to Mainebiz for including KMA in this discussion, and also to the panelists who showed up authentically, with vulnerability, and admirable strength and courage.

Here are ten themes that particularly resonated with us.

  1. Leading fully as women, not as women through the lens or framework of male leadership.
  2. The power of women in emotional intelligence and empathetic leadership: the willingness to be vulnerable; to be authentic; to make mistakes and accept consequences. Leading with a full heart and a strong spine.
  3. Know who your team is, and be able to anticipate and address their individual concerns, perspectives, and pain points.
  4. The value in delegating responsibilities – but also being willing and able to accept the way those responsibilities are carried out and not to impose your way on it. That is not true delegation.
  5. The importance of a strong leadership team, and layers of teams supporting you. It’s lonely at the top, and leaders need the next level of lieutenants who can run the day to day business, and carry out the mission when needed.
  6. The value in lifting others up in our community; building big, beautiful networks; mentoring the next generation of leaders – both women and men, who we must help normalize and celebrate women as leaders.
  7. Be a good role model of self-care by being transparent about priorities and time at and away from work. Self-care can be as simple as  taking a walk in the middle of the day, or getting your nails done. It does not have to be another item for your to-do list!
  8. Life and work is porous and there is no true balance. Accept that and do your best wherever you are. When leading others, be understanding and accommodating of this reality.
  9. Self-doubt and impostor syndrome is normal and most leaders experience it – men and women. Fake it ‘til you make it. The people you lead are looking to you for a way forward, not perfection. Perfectionism is the enemy of the good.
  10. Pay attention if your head, heart and stomach are not in alignment. It’s a sign that something is off. Listen to your instincts.

In addition to Mainebiz, many thanks also to this year’s sponsors, Camden National Bank, Eaton Peabody, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Maine Community Foundation, and #Vistage for helping make this possible! We were thrilled to be part of this event.