Thriving Women, Thriving World

We recently caught up with Oenone Serle, leadership specialist, learning designer and facilitator, who shares insights for helping women thrive.

One of the most inspiring parts of the recent Positive Psychology World Conference in Melbourne, was a whole day on the topic of ‘Thriving Women Thriving World’. It was a thrill to collaborate and learn with women from around the world, finishing the day with sharing promises of what we would do to help women and the world thrive. I’d like to share some of the takeaways.

Facilitators Diana Whitney, author and global leader on Appreciative Inquiry methodology, and Caroline Adams Miller, speaker, author and educator on goal-setting and grit. Mobilised by the #MeToo movement, Diana and Caroline crafted the first-ever Appreciative Inquiry Summit on ‘Thriving Women, Thriving World’.


What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry is a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change. It’s an approach to change which focuses on individual and collective strengths, hopes and dreams for the future, rather than on problems and weaknesses.
From the multiple stories that were shared in the discovery phase discussion, the five enablers to women thriving were summarised as:

• Relationship with self
• Encouragement and support
• Community and connection
• Purpose and challenge
• Grit and perseverance

During the Designing phase, innovative positive changes in the areas of economics, politics, work, leadership, relationships, body image, media and community were put forward to create a thriving world of thriving women. There was a reminder to encourage and support women through Active Constructive Responding.


What is Active Constructive Responding?

Active Constructive Responding is a type of response where people share news about things going well. Responses can be categorised along two dimensions: constructive – destructive and active – passive and thus differentiated into four types of response:
1. Active – Constructive (e.g. enthusiastic support)
2. Passive – Constructive (e.g. quiet, understated support)
3. Active – Destructive (e.g. demeaning the event)
4. Passive – Destructive responses (e.g. ignoring the event)

Relationships strengthen when we share good news and receive support showing enthusiasm and curiosity through active constructive responses. Only the active constructive type of responding plays a part in building relationships because it is directly linked with commitment, satisfaction, intimacy, and trust.

Caroline reminded us of this in the context of what we can do to help women thrive. When woman share their hopes and successes, we need to support and encourage them, not be ‘frenemies’. The people around us matter, so look for those who respond in an ‘active constructive’ way and avoid the rest.

Women’s Leadership Program Opportunities

LV’s Women’s Leadership Program is a three-day retreat (hosted in the beautiful Chateau Yerring) to explore the systematic barriers to women’s leadership and build confidence and strategies to lead change. Gain a supportive network of female peers and be inspired by motivational speakers who will empower you to reach your leadership potential.

Or for emerging women leaders looking to increase self-awareness, understand their own leadership strengths and places for growth, Women Leading Now is a two-day and one-evening virtually-delivered program, offering the chance to learn, share and reset.

Additional Resources

Read the book, Thriving Women, Thriving World, which provides useful tools for continuing this conversation.

Written by Oenone Serle

Oenone is a leadership specialist, learning designer and facilitator with over twenty-five years’ experience mainly in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Over the years as a Senior Facilitator with Leadership Victoria she has loved the connection, learning and network-building that emerges from leadership programs. Oenone brings a strength focus and passion for research on positive organisations to her leadership work. She has a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology.

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