How to lead with vulnerability and authenticity

'Leadership is not about perfection' says Si Lew at Women in Safety Summit

How to lead with vulnerability and authenticity

At the Women in Safety Summit in Calgary on Thursday, attendees were inspired, entertained, and felt a wide range of emotions during a presentation by Si Lew, the director of self-care & wellness at the North American Association of Asian Professionals Toronto chapter.

She delivered a powerful presentation on leadership, self-actualization, and embracing vulnerability.

Lew started by sharing her personal journey, recounting the challenges she faced managing her father's business while navigating personal upheaval. "I found myself torn between the demands of work and personal life, grappling with feelings of shame and self-doubt." Her candid reflection struck a chord with the audience, setting the tone for a discussion on the complexities of modern leadership.

Lew delved into the shifting values among women in the 21st century, describing a transition from self-achievement to self-actualization. "Women are feeling powerful, yet constrained by societal expectations," she explained. "We need to understand the hidden barriers that prevent us from reaching our full potential."

Throughout her presentation, Lew tried to drive home the concept of wholehearted leadership, characterized by courage, compassion, and vulnerability. "Leadership is not about perfection; it's about embracing our imperfections and leading with authenticity," she asserted. "We must create psychologically safe environments where people can express themselves openly."

Drawing from a case study about how the Edmonton Police chief reacted to the tragic deaths of two officers in the line of duty, Lew illustrated the importance of vulnerability in fostering genuine connections and resilience within teams. "By embracing vulnerability, leaders can create spaces for meaningful dialogue and support," she explained. "It's about acknowledging our fears and shortcomings and leading with empathy."

In addressing the audience, Lew challenged individuals to confront their fears and practice self-compassion. "We must peel back the layers of shame and perfectionism that hold us back," she urged. "Self-love and authenticity are the keys to unlocking our true potential as leaders."

Lew left attendees with a poignant reminder of the power of empathy and connection in leadership. "Leadership begins with self-care and extends to caring for others," she concluded. "When we lead from the heart, we create ripple effects of positive change in our organizations and communities."

Veronique Amar, director health and safety regulatory programs at Air Canada was in the audience. “I really connected with her and what she's saying,” explained Amar. “I want to lead from the heart, and for me that is being true to yourself, and being authentic.”

Reflecting on Lew's message, Amar wasn’t the only audience member expressing admiration for her vulnerability and authenticity. "Si Lew's presentation was a wake-up call for me," remarked another attendee. "I realized that true leadership starts with accepting ourselves and embracing our humanity."

Lew's insightful presentation serves as a beacon of inspiration for leaders striving to make a meaningful impact in their respective fields. Through her advocacy for self-care, authenticity, and empathy, she empowers individuals to lead with courage and compassion, driving positive change in an ever-evolving world.