Leadership and the Power of Choice
Goals change as we grow, and Denison helps our alumni find paths to new opportunities through an ongoing series of special workshops about careers. One of them is with global entrepreneur Lucy Reynolds ’94, who founded Olerai Leadership, a leadership training company.
Once a year, she offers women-only coaching sessions through the Knowlton Career Center. “Leadership is in every facet of your life,” Reynolds says. “It’s in your personal life, in how you are leading yourself forward. And from a career standpoint, it’s how you are leading your career journey or pathway.”
The small group sessions, called “What’s Next?” are held via Zoom conferencing with Reynolds. She guides participants through a thought/inquiry process that helps them answer questions like ‘What is driving me?’ ‘What’s important to me?’ With the ultimate realization of the power of choice.
“As a coach, it isn’t my role to consult with you on your career or life decisions, but rather to create an experience for you to get clear on where your values, skills, attributes, and passions align — to inform you of the right direction forward,” she says. “When a person can be fully ‘at choice’ to make values based decisions they find a far more meaningful life. Being at choice is a powerful way to show up in the world no matter what the situation.”
Antoinette Belson ’10, an alumna in the 2018 coaching session, had no expectations of the course but knew she had a sense of unrest.
“I had no idea this was something I wanted or needed to do,” Belson says. “I know, naively, I wanted Lucy to provide me with the answers. What happened instead was I formulated my own path based on the other group members’ experiences and Lucy’s guidance.”
“Lucy helped me use my personal values and gifts to narrow that down until I had a clearer picture of what the future needed to hold.”
The sessions provide the structure that allows each person to do some work on her own, and then connect back with the group for discussion. And everyone in the group brings something different to the table.
“It doesn’t have to be about your career,” Reynolds says. “Your career can be fine, but you may be out of step with values in your personal life.”
“In our coaching circle we might have a wide variety of participant goals. Maybe you’ve forgotten some of the things that make you really happy. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a mother and to take time away from your professional career, yet have the self-limiting belief that you won’t be competitive when you want to return to work. You may be considering starting your own business, yet lack the confidence to do so. Or perhaps you want to go after a big promotion but don’t know how to sell yourself to senior management. As a coach, I can manage many differing goals for the group, while holding each person accountable for their own forward progress.”
Lindsay Clark ’00 was looking for a path forward after earning her master’s degree.
“I was hoping to discover a clear line of sight to a specific field or career and what that might look like. I was impressed with how even the simplest of ‘assignments’ led to deep reflection and realization, and helped guide me toward what type of role I needed to seek next. Lucy helped me use my personal values and gifts to narrow that down until I had a clearer picture of what the future needed to hold.”
Reynolds trained at the Coaches Training Institute in London and Singapore and received her certification in 2014. Olerai Leadership helps women especially, and often men as well, to clearly define who they are, what their voice is, and how to ask for what they want. “All of this is about choice and how we want to be with all of that,” says Reynolds.
Lucy Reynolds ’94 majored in history major at Denison and worked for 15 years in advertising and brand management at Leo Burnett, Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and Wieden + Kennedy. She and her husband, Jim ’90 met after Denison at global advertising agency Leo Burnett. She has worked all around the world, experiencing different cultures in Amsterdam, Moscow, and Tokyo. Jim is now an executive with Nike. Lucy transitioned her career to leadership and development work while they were abroad.