This anonymous blog is written by one of our fantastic Shine stars, we love her story and how she tells it – look out for her progress updates as the story continues…
I cannot oversell the impact Shine has had on my professional life, and there have been some very positive personal spin-offs too.
When I came to Shine I’d been a senior manager for six years, leading a hugely talented, passionate and driven team.
That makes it sound like leading them was easy. Far from it! I’m also very passionate and driven, and having risen up the ranks of that team I struggled to get into the right place as their manager.
I often despaired, as the office culture was very shouty, with some of the men choosing to follow a few very big personalities who thought it was clever to swear constantly and behave like they were in the pub. It’s always been a fantastic team but the whole department was running too fast as some thought it was macho to be as frantic as possible.
Planning was seen as boring, the macho contingent was not willing to slow down to accommodate the more considered and less experienced members of the team and trying to pull the management team together was extremely difficult.
I persistently beat myself up about my constant battles with one of the senior managers who was leading the macho behaviour. I couldn’t fault his commitment and talent, but he constantly undermined my authority, was dismissive, and his followers adopted the same pattern of behaviour.
It would be wrong to say that the macho behaviour got in the way of success, as the team was highly motivated, passionate and results-driven. But it was running too fast, holding back creativity and fuelling exhaustion, and some voices were not being heard.
The management team was starting to appreciate that the culture had to change, but it was a long, slow struggle.
Then I went to Lyme Regis for two days! It’s making me tearful right now – happy tears though – to recall meeting the wonderful Shine team and the fantastic group of women I met on the course.
I won’t reveal the content of the course as it’s much better to come to it without any knowledge of what it involves. I’ll just say that over those two days I came to realise my strengths, forgive myself for my weaknesses, and recognise that I had been achieving and could achieve so much more if I stopped doubting myself.
And the generosity of the Shine team, who shared their own personal experiences and encouraged all of us to be honest and open about our own, meant it was an emotional two days.
After the first day I felt able to talk to my mother about how she’d coped with my dad’s death 40 years ago. That was such a precious conversation and one I will be eternally grateful for.
So the personal effect of Shine was momentous.
And the professional impact was just as life-changing. I cried as I left Lyme Regis on the train as I felt like I was leaving behind stuff that has held me back for years – confidence issues both at work and personally.
No-one asked me anything about the course when I returned to work, even though I’d jokingly said it was for women only and they’d better watch out when I came back!
But I must have seemed different because the team started to react to me differently.
It’s difficult to describe how I changed – I guess I acquired a quiet, gentle authority rather than being prone to outbursts of frustration. I believed in myself more.
My management team has now massively stepped up. They see themselves as managers rather than people who were reluctantly taking on managerial responsibilities.
A manager who had been one of the most difficult characters came to me some months ago and said that he recognised the culture of the department had to change, that meetings needed to be more respectful and professional, and that the swearing had to stop.
He’s led a major project which involves new working practices and those who once followed his unruliness now follow his discipline.
There’s now more space for creative ideas, and it’s still a fun place to work but it’s much more professional.
I’m excited about the future as my team is pulling together much more.
Shine has made me understand what empowerment really means.
It was an incredible experience. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Thank you to all of the Shine team and the wonderful women who shared their personal and professional stories with such honesty, integrity, warmth and humour on this fantastic course.