By Terri Jensen | Chief information officer, Holmes Murphy & Associates
 
My daughter, Kristin, asked me to join her at the Women's March on Washington as soon as she heard about it. That same day, we booked our flights and hotel and began planning our participation in the March.

Kristin is 29 and owns a small business in Ankeny. She made it very clear that she was not participating to protest, but instead to march for what she believes in. She wanted to march with an open mind and open heart.

It's likely you've heard about the Women's March. Most of us have strong opinions regarding the election and the need to support or protest the actions of our current administration. My purpose today is to not re-stoke that fire, but instead to share some lessons I learned from Kristin and other millennials who participated in the March.

I asked eight young women leaders to share their reasons for attending or not attending the March. Each of these strong women replied with thoughtful and insightful responses. Here are leadership lessons we can learn from our daughters:
  • Women are stronger together. Although we make up just over 50 percent of the population, women still have limited opportunity to lead organizations. Historically, women sometimes felt the need to climb over other women to get ahead. Our daughters understand the only way to change this is to lift other women up with them. They are not interested in progressing at the cost of other women, but in leading with other women.  
  • Community is important. Tomorrow's women leaders understand we are all in this together. Contrary to popular belief, millennials are the "we" rather than the "me" generation. True success happens when the entire community succeeds. Volunteering, sitting on nonprofit boards, donating to causes, and activism are effective outlets these women choose to support for their local, national, and worldwide communities. Women find strength in community and collaboration.  
  • Our daughters have lived a fuller life by the age of 30 than many of us. These women have often traveled extensively and volunteered innumerable hours. They understand the burden of college debt, live independently, and work tirelessly to enhance their career path. Experienced leaders should listen to a millennial woman's perspective. Their leadership skills may still be developing, but their breadth of knowledge and depth of passion is inspiring.  
  • They are excited to learn and to grow. Our daughters are willing to discern and question. With social media and 24/7 news outlets, their world can become overwhelming. It is essential to find the facts and disregard the rest. Our developing leaders understand the importance of change, self-development, and the power of diversity. They want to learn from their peers and the strong women who came before them. It's our responsibility to support their continuous growth and keep them challenged.  
  • Our daughters act. They are on fire to make a difference. They don't want to sit back and wait for others to create a world for them. They are taking action to build the world they and others deserve. We need to stand with them to strengthen our message and promote positive change.
The Women's March on Washington was so much more than a single event. I believe it was the passing of a torch ... or at least, the sharing of the torch. It reinforced that we have taught our daughters well, but that they are ready to surpass us in community involvement, leadership, compassion and strength. They will act at work and in the community to bring the equality we all deserve.  

I'd like to thank Kristin, Jen, Emily, Sukriti, Laura, Precious, Katie and Molly for their honesty and willingness to share their points of view with me. It's rewarding to see the next generation poised for leadership, and I look forward to the lessons we will learn from them.

Terri Jensen earned her bachelor's degree in computer science from Drake University and her master's in organizational leadership from Colorado State University in 2016. Prior to Holmes Murphy, Terri served as CIO at Central College in 2012-13, and The Weitz Company in 2008-11. She previously founded and grew an innovative technology training and consulting company called Integrated Software Solutions. Jensen is on the board of directors for LifeServe Blood Center and Iowa's Million Women Mentors. She also volunteers for Youth Emergency Services and Shelter.
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Contact Terri via email or LinkedIn.