Being a female leader with grace is a difficult task in today’s marketplace. Excellence, success and prestige are being modeled by a larger number of women in the work field today. However, with this increase, a social stigma of women leaders has arisen of powerhouse, cutthroat females ready to take over the world one claw mark at a time.

How can we remove those stigmas, retain respect and authority, and additionally be revered for our kindness, grace and leadership skills?

An intimate group of 40 women leaders gathered at the University Club of Santa Barbara last Wednesday night to participate in a discussion on the topic of “Leading with Grace.” The questions asked included: What was your first job, and what did you learn most from it? How do you deal with male employees that are not respecting you and causing unrest on your team? How can you maintain a family work-life balance? How can you separate business from friendship, and do so with grace?

The panel consisted of Jill Levinson, president of the Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara, and Natalie Grubb-Campbell, a Realtor with Village Properties. Amy Ackerman, vice president of insurance/partner at Alliance Wealth Strategies, served as the panel host.

“Ladies, use what’s in your toolbox,” Levinson said when referring to gaining a respectable edge on your male counterparts. “Work hard. Don’t expect anything to come to you. Go for it and make yourself indispensable.”

One of the key phrases Levinson uses to diffuse client conflict is, “I know we can find a solution to this problem,” which became a crowd favorite takeaway.

“You have to find a way to be friendly without being best friends,” Grubb-Campbell said when asked about employees who want to become your friend. “Clients and employees are your friends, but there needs to be a line,” stressing the importance of work-life balance.

When asked about finding the perfect man, Grubb-Campbell responded: “As a woman, you have to find a man who wants you to succeed. If you do not find one, you will not succeed, period.”

The evening was filled with respect, admiration and love for the female leaders in our world and the impact they are having on our local community. The next “Leading with Grace” seminar will be held in May and will be focused on “Grace Through Volunteering.”

— Amy Clemens represents Alliance Wealth Strategies.