Building resilience

Whatever change we’re leading, we all need the ability to fail, cope with shame and humiliation, and get back up again, to face down criticism and confusion, to navigate frustration and journey through grief. As Hillary Clinton, and many others before her have said “When you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”

But when you’re knocked down, getting back up can be one of the hardest things to do. In session five of She Leads Change, we explore our own resilience. In the spirit of the ‘noticing’ theme that runs through every She Leads Change session, the pre-read begins with consideration of what resilience means to us personally.

What does it mean to you? Take a moment to note down your reaction to the following words. Where the question mark is, write down and look at any other words that came up for you and you’d like to add.

What this makes me feel What this makes me think/do How this relates to resilience

Reading back through your responses, ask yourself – what does resilience mean to you? This does not need to be a dictionary perfect definition. It needs to feel personal and relevant to your life.

To return to Hillary Clinton, she said in a 1995 speech “It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.”

We closed out our session with this guided meditation, “Be the Mountain”*.

How do you find the patient strength and stability within yourself to weather changes?

Curious to find out more? Apply now for the next She Leads Change cohorts, starting 3rd and 4th September 2018.

*Be the Mountain meditation adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Mountain Meditation” (

How does your context impact your confidence?

There is a wonderful expression “the fish is the last to see the water”. With culture often we are so ‘in it’, have so few alternative reference points and have so deeply internalised it that we don’t ‘see’ it. We therefore take on many of societies toxic elements as our ‘own’ as opposed to recognising them for social constructs that we can choose to comply with – or not.

Session 4 of the She Leads Change programme provides space for participants to become aware of the broader cultural constructs that impact them and to begin to consciously choose how to react and engage.  We offer participants, in our extensive pre-read on the topic, exercises to notice the culture we operate within and our response. One of these is set out below:

1. Understanding self:
What are your internalised beliefs about gender? These may include: beauty, speaking in public, political representation, roles in the home/work, way of framing conversations, earning capacity, etc. Where do use gender-related power? What do you feel valued for? Where are you subject to it? Mentally, track a day and notice 5 things you do to conform a gender stereotype:


2. Understanding other:
How do beliefs on gender limit others? Where, for example, are men constrained to narrow definitions of behaviour? How do you treat other women in personal and professional situations? Is this different to how you treat men? Think about 3 situations where you notice yours/others behaviour to one another impacted by gender bias:


3. Understanding whole:
How does gender shape reward and behaviour in your organisation? What are the differences between male and female seniority and pay in your organisation? In meetings – who is speaking out the most? What are the different types of roles? How do women speak differently to men? Where do ownem use traditional female sources of power? Is there a difference between female leadership and feminine leadership? Where are social norms accepted e.g. who gets the restaurant bill, receives the question, opens the door? Note down 5 specific examples where your organisation is limited by gender stereotyping:



As part of our sessions each month we invite an expert on the topic to provide us with a deeper understanding and answer our trickier questions. Here Anna Birney from the School for Systems Change talks systems, power and being authentic.


Curious aboutSheLeads Change? Join our September programme. We are now taking applications.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you
something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Next Steps: She Leads Change Open Session 17th April

Hello All

What a WONDERFUL evening we had on Tuesday!

Thank you to those that joined for bringing so much curiosity and openess. We loved hearing your stories and sharing and connecting with you.

It would be brilliant if you’d join us on our journey.

You can do this in a few ways:

1. Particpate in the Programme: We are excited to say we are open for bookings!  Group 3 will start on 22nd May and continue on the third Tuesday every month for 6 months. Group 4 will start on 24th May and then continue on the third Thursday of every month.  We will take a summer break! After the first meeting, groups can negotiate between theselves if they’d prefer to meet on an alternate evening. If you can’t make those dates, please do indicate as we will try to accomodate everyone.

If you haven’t already, please do apply soon – the places are filling up and we would love you to join.

2. Coach on the programme: Coaching is a commitment of 4hours minimum over the 6months in a format that suits and could be either virtual or physical. We publish your profile and the particpants choose who they’d like to work with based on their particular needs, at the time. We seem to be inadvertenlty forming a parallel community of remarkable women coaches – we will encourage gatherings for the coaches (and for the whole SLC community).

If you’d like to coach (and haven’t already), please do send your motivation, a brief profile and a link to your linked-in profile to

3. Be an expert: Each session we find an expert that can speak virtually to a particular topic – bringing depth to our conversation.  It is normally about 20minutes of comments and 10minutes of Q&A. We’d welcome your involvement in this if you have relevant expertise to bring and/or if there is someone you’d like to recomend. The next session is on resiliance. You can see an example of an expert session here:

Please do drop us a line if this appeals, with your topic.

4. Sponsor a place(s): We’d like She Leads Change to be as inclusive as possible and our pricing makes it very accessible. However, we find wonderful people who need to be supported to join the course. If you can help – please do. You can find out more here: On that note – if you or your company would like to support the broader She Leads Change organisation offering funding or venues or other support (we’d like to strengthen the team and offer the programme in other places). We would be delighted to speak!

Last, we welcome ANY feedback.  As you know we are on a co-learning journey and you can help us be stronger, better and – ultimately – be more impactful.

Please do get in touch with any questions/suggestions/offers and compliments!

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Nicola, Emily, Antonia, Steph, Joand the SLC community

SLC Open Evening (2)


Last months session focused on exploring our relationships with others. We used various exercises and quotes to frame the session – including this wonderful one from Victor Frankel: Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

During the session, we reflected on three areas:

  • How we are turning up? We explored what we bring into a relationship in terms of our own self-knowledge, biases, expectations and ideas. We examined our trickiest relationships as an opportunity to understand our own selves better, by acknowledging our shadow. And we all chuckled at the quote “You teach others how to treat you”.
  • How we are connecting? Here we examined how we communicate and how people differ. We used various frameworks, including one that differentiated styles between introverts and extroverts, and those who were more people or task driven. We noticed where we masked language with ‘sort of’, ‘I just thought’, ‘possibly’ and other words that reduce the impact of what we say. There were some deep realisations during this part of the session. One person said “Don’t judge others outsides by your insides”.
  • What contains the connection? We examined how much we trust each other, the unsaid in the space between and our shared and different objectives. We thought about how to transform a relationship by changing the context– by finding the ‘blue feather’ the shared, element that exists within a black and white situation that helps both parties move beyond a binary approach.

Another strong topic was ‘agency’.  The choice remains ours how we interact and with who. To decide to engage, how to engage, to pause to consider a reaction and to re-set at any stage the terms of engagement.

We were lucky enough to have Debbie Warrener ‘beam-in’ as our expert to provide us with her thoughts on the topic. She is one of the volunteer coaches on the programme. Debbie approached the topic in her gentle, informed way and left us with some great insight…

We’d encourage you to reach out to Debbie if what she says resonates with you.  She can be found here.

If you have an area of expertise that is relevant to She Leads Change and you’d like to share, please do get in touch with We currently divide our work into 6 sessions: Vision, Self, Other, Whole, Resilience and Beyond, and welcome any thoughts, speakers, tools/techniques or other contributions.

If you are curious about the programme, please do join on our next open evening to find out more. We’d love to meet you. 


Invitation – She Leads Change: Open Session 17 April

If you feel that with more confidence and courage you could be more impactful – please join us for the evening from 17:30 to 20:00 on Tuesday 17th April to find out more about She Leads Change: Confidence, Courage and Connection for Changemakers. 

We invite you, as a purpose-driven women, to join us to explore, learn, connect and experience a taste of our peer-learning programme alongside other outstanding women. We’d be delighted to meet you and to understand both what you are looking for – and what you could bring.

Sign-up here.

This evening will give you an understanding of the 6-month She Leads Change Programme. It will show how, together, we create confidence ‘in action’, how we help reframe personal/professional perspectives for growth, you’ll learn some useful techniques, and you’ll see the impressive calibre of people we have involved. We will take you through the structure over the 6-months, showcase some of the materials and introduce you to current participants and coaches. The evening might even be fun!

This is for women that at heart are strong, sassy and inspiring, that live toward purpose and are committed to positive change – yet – also feel small and vulnerable and wonder if they can…We invite any change-makers as potential participants, irrespective of age, career stage or income level.  Do join!

Come and join us to meet those involved so far, find out more about She Leads Change and discuss what you could bring to the course at our Open Session 5:30-8pm on 17 April 2017. Sign up here. 

If you can’t join on the 17th, but want to be part of the next group, please apply here: Yes to She Leads Change

For further questions, please contact us at:

We’re looking forward to meeting YOU! 


What does it offer?

LEARNING: a structured learning programme over 6 months focused on personal development through peer-mentoring and expert facilitation and perspective

BELONGING: form part of a group of wonderful women who are inspirational professionals that meet and connect over the 6months – and beyond

CONNECTING: access to a broader network of She leads Change alumni, participants, coaches and advisors as part of the SLC network

COACHING: A dedicated coach that will support you on your 6month journey

REINFORCING: a detailed pre-read each month with articles, exercises, videos and other learning material that acts to support the formal learning process by offering opportunities to try-out ideas

EXPLORING: a safe space to try out new things (e.g. co-create a session) to test ideas and to share confidences

Although we think you’ll learn and practice core professional skills, this is not a business skill development course. We won’t overtly teach you negotiation or presentation or any discreet business skill. We believe that by having an opportunity to express concerns and try out new ways of being and doing – alongside your growth in self-awareness, courage and confidence – your core business skills will also improve. Given both of these growth areas we expect that your professional capability and ability to effect positive change will improve exponentially…



Understanding Self: Erma Steyn

Most weeks we have an expert ‘beam in’ to our sessions and provide us with food for thought. In the session on self, we asked psychologist and leadership expert Erma Steyn from Possibility Inc to share her thoughts. She left us with great insights! Have a listen…

We’d encourage you to reach out to Erma if what she says resonates with you.  She can be found here.

If you have an area of expertise that is relevant to She Leads Change and you’d like to share, please do get in touch with We currently divide our work into 6 sessions: Vision, Self, Other, Whole, Resilience and Beyond, and welcome any thoughts, speakers, tools/techniques or other contributions.


Invitation: International Women’s Day 

Next Thursday is International Women’s Day.  We would like to invite you to join us over the course of the day at various events:
1. Morning Cuppa: I’ll be at the Library in St Martins Lane from 10.30am. Please do pop by to say ‘hello’ and share a story, question, joke and/or cuppa
2. Afternoon at the movies: We head across to Hackney to watch the gala screening of “Everything is Possible” a celebration of Sylvia Pankhurst. Register here.
3. Evening at the Canvas Cafe: Join for a community-centered gathering and panel discussion celebrating women in one of London’s most deprived areas – Tower Hamlets. Have a look.
4. Frolic with the Faun: We host She Leads Change evenings in the quirky flat belonging to Andy Black – otherwise known as the Faun. Many of us can testify to his sense of fun – he serenades us at the end of sessions. He is performing at the Vault Festival at 21.15pm in “an interactive magical dance adventure”…We’d like to go! He has offered friends and family pricing for us. Please drop me a note if you can join. More details here.

Everyone is welcome – do feel free to extend the invitation to others!

We have had such a great response from these courses – we are starting a new group in April. If you’d like to come on the 6-month journey or if you would like to recommend the course to others – please refer them here to apply.

Thank you for your support. Each session we have reinforces the power of community and opens new possibilities for change-makers.

Hope to see you on 8th…

Applications for April 2018 now open

We’re delighted to be bringing you the news that the next cohort of She Leads Change will be starting in April and applications are now open!

The programme is a mixture of coaching and community, building confidence and connection through a structured peer learning and mentoring programme. Find out more about how it works →.

So what change are you making in the world? And what’s holding you back? Join the April She Leads Change cohort to find your purpose, build your courage and unleash your potential.

Apply today

Not intending to apply this time? Help us spread the word

We’d love you to help us get the word out far and wide to the women you know She Leads Change would be perfect for. Here are some sample lines to help:

Calling all ladies wanting to make a difference in the world! @SheLeadsChange applications open for April 2018 cohort. Meet like-minded amazing women using peer-learning to build confidence, resilience and reach their potential. Please sign up now and share with others!     Tweet this [Tweet this]

Feeling a bit stale? Things holding you back? Supercharge your career with the wonderful @nicolamillson and @SheLeadsChange peer-mentoring programme: a collection of inspiring women making change in the world. Secure your place for the April cohort here:     Tweet this [Tweet this]

For LinkedIn:
She Leads Change is a six month peer-mentoring programme where purpose-driven women become more confident, build resilience and form powerful connections. By supporting and connecting change-makers, the team amplifies and accelerates the positive social impact women are making in the world. April cohort now open. Sign up here: @SheLeadsChange

Women from all sectors are coming together to explore their power to make a difference. A new peer mentoring programme called @SheLeadsChange is making waves in the social sector, breaking down barriers and helping women be the best they can be. Unleash your potential. Application for the April cohort now open:

For Facebook:
Want to share an amazing programme called @SheLeadsChange. Met some inspiring women who are helping me to remove the blocks to my potential! This is an essential path for women looking to make change in the world, but that may have lost their way! They’re taking applications for the April cohort now. Check it out here:

We’re incredibly excited about growing our community to include this new cohort. Thank you for your support!

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

She Leads Change launches in January 2018. Sign up!

On Tuesday 28th November 2017 20 women came together to meet, explore and experience the idea of ‘She Leads Change’, and shape the programme. We shared a common sense of having or seeking purpose in our work, a variety of challenges as well as hope and excitement around She Leads Change.

Collectively we discussed the proposed format for She Leads Change and start date: find out the full proposed shape of the programme in the ‘About Us’ section. The evening confirmed that we have enough interest to run two groups concurrently!

If you want to be part of one of these two groups of 6-8 people starting in January sign up to She Leads Change here now.

If you couldn’t make the session, or if you still have questions you want answering, we are running an online session on Friday 15th December from 15:00-16:30pm – sign up to the She Leads Change online Q&A on Eventbrite.

An experiment in peer mentoring

During last Tuesday’s session, we tried out a peer mentoring and deep listening exercise. Why not give it a go yourself with a friend?


  • Choose something that happened recently which left you puzzled or disgruntled
  • Take 7 minutes to talk to your friend:
    • What was the situation?
    • Think about what you are holding onto about it. How is it a pattern? What are deeper underlying issues?
    • What advice would you give yourself on how to resolve it and/or do things differently next time?
  • Your friend will listen closely as you speak, and at the end of the 7 minutes, should spend no more than 3 minutes reflecting back what they heard you say.

MIT lecturer and co-founder of the Presencing Institute, Otto Scharmer, lays out four levels of listening:

  • Downloading – “yeah, I know that already…” re-confirms my views.
  • Factual (listening with an open mind) – picks up new information, notices differences
  • Empathic (listening with an open heart) – “I know exactly how you feel…” sees something through another person’s eyes
  • Generative (listening with an open will) – “I can’t explain what I just experienced…” listening that leads to a shift in sense of self and identity
  • As the friend, you have an active role in not giving advice, or responding, but simply ‘holding a mirror up’ to what you’ve heard.
    • Notice if you are comparing what you are hearing to your existing knowledge or beliefs (downloading)
    • Consciously soften your mind and focus on the other person’s lived experience (factual & empathic listening)
    • And if you’re up for it, see if you can sense the space beyond, the future perspective ‘wanting to emerge’ (generative listening)
  • At the end of the first 10 minutes, switch places and repeat the exercise

Reflection/What did you notice?

  • The exercise forces you to properly listen to yourself, and hear someone else.
    • What did it feel like to give yourself advice out loud?
    • What did you appreciate most? What did you find most challenging?
    • Would you give someone else the same advice if they were in your situation?
    • Did you hear anything that surprised you?
    • Was there anything that particularly stood out, that you’ll apply going forward?

What are we hoping for with She Leads Change?

We closed the evening by writing down hopes for ourselves, for the future and for She Leads Change. It is our intention that the pilot programme begets offshoots run by the participants in other cities and countries, like a spider plant, if you will.

We each took home another’s hope, and a blooming rose, saving our hopes for She Leads Change – and for the future – to share here:


What are your hopes? Sign up for January 2018, and let us know.

 These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to be climbing.”
– Najwa Zebian

Open session on 28 November 2017

We want She Leads Change to be an open and collaborative initiative.

Come and join us to meet those involved so far, find out more about She Leads Change and discuss what you could bring to it at our open session from 5:30-8pm on 28 November 2017.

We are looking to:

  • Fill up the initial pilot group
  • Find mentors (beyond their peers) for each woman involved
  • Develop an extra-ordinary and inspiring programme

Register on EventBrite. We look forward to meeting you!