Learning Leadership through a Bad Experience

Rose Mary Hefley works with organizations that want to develop great leadership for today and assure a continuum of leadership for tomorrow.

Part one:

Learning leadership through a bad experience

Leadership is not all learned from a book. Many times we are given a gift through someone’s bad behavior. Just because someone has bad behavior doesn’t mean we need to avoid them. In fact, sometimes it makes sense to stand up to them.

It was a beautiful spring morning in 1981 and I was dressed in my most professional attire.  I was attending my first Life Underwriters Association meeting.  I was new to the industry and was very excited about the opportunity to be working in an industry where I would be able to work with people dedicated to protecting people’s assets and growing people’s wealth.  The division manager who hired me to be his new sales manager had told me the group would be a great resource for obtaining industry knowledge and would give me an opportunity to network with my peers in the industry.

What my manager didn’t know was that in central Iowa in the early eighties, women were not exactly welcomed with open arms into this prestigious organization.  My manager was from a large metropolitan city and was new to the rural area. He had not attended a meeting yet so was unaware that I would be the only woman in attendance at the meeting.  I really didn’t think a lot about it at first because I was enjoying the meeting and the topic.  After the meeting several of us were introducing ourselves to each other when a gentleman approached who didn’t think I should be there. At first I thought he was being friendly. Then he got to the point and said, “People should do what they were meant to be doing, if someone would make a good waitress, or housekeeper, they should be doing that, if they are good at having babies and taking care of a home, they should be doing that.  But they should leave being in business to the men who are good at it.”

Needless to say, I was stunned, then angry!

Look for Part 2:  Learning a lesson in leadership!

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