The RISE Blog 

  • Kerri Altom

See how they RISE.

Updated: Dec 9, 2018

Undeterred by their critics, these women are modeling integrity-centered leadership right before our very eyes. It's time to notice.


My boys had a particular love for those Hidden Picture books. You know? Where a line drawing of scissors, a pencil, and a candle were hidden in the bigger picture, and they had to search to find them. I’m like that with people. I love finding their little gifts or talents then stepping back to see how each fits into the big picture of who they are. I get a kick out of finding good qualities in others. So I was excited to take on this challenge of identifying three women whose leadership inspires me.


But, seriously. Just three women? I had to narrow my search, so I applied criteria from the RISE model in choosing these three. Here I was looking for leaders who have clearly defined their values; who speak and act in alignment with those values; who are courageous in sharing their stories; and, who have evolved their work to meet changing priorities.


Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown and Melinda French Gates are inspiring women to lead.
Do you have a favorite heart-centered leader? Think about women you admire, and maybe even let them know what you see in them and how it inspires you.

These Three Inspire Me

Most of us were introduced to Brene Brown through her TED Talk in which she shares how the very foundation of her values and beliefs shifted when she analyzed years of data for a study she conducted (Brown is a PhD doing research at University of Houston.) In her talk Brown admits- live, on stage, in a very vulnerable way-how she had to see first through the data and research that she had been living her life with a shocking lack of vulnerability, among other things, and why that was bad. What did the data indicate? Shame is toxic, and the antidote is the power of vulnerability, empathy and courage. Brown shares how much she fed shame in her own life and why engaging with vulnerability, empathy and courage had been so hard. Telling her story on that stage fueled a huge shift in her life. Since then her writing has had a huge impact in the field of social work while also adding key words to the popular lexicon of personal development and leadership. As Brown’s star rose, she evolved professionally by negotiating a changing role with her university, writing more books, and founding a company committed to teaching compassionate leadership to C-suite executives and others. Each of these roles aligns perfectly with the priorities she identifies, and each enables her to share her gifts.


Without a doubt all of these women has courageously shared their stories, most notably Glennon Doyle whose early writing exposed her struggles with everything from marriage and parenting to stifling expectations, addictions and eating disorder. She was originally categorized as a Christian mommy blogger, but as her exposure increased, so did her commitment to using her platform to advocate for causes often ignored by the more devout members of her audience. She shared the breakup of her marriage, her new love for a woman (soccer star and activist Abby Wombach) and her marriage to Abby. Her work evolved from personal empowerment to encompass social advocacy. Together with other activists she founded Together Rising, a non-profit raising millions for disaster relief and social causes through limited time campaigns they call "Love Flash Mobs". Through her books and social media engagement, Doyle bursts right into topics of racial and gender identity with uncommon courage. She doesn’t always execute perfectly, but it's there we see some of her most inspiring leadership. Doyle is quick to acknowledge missteps, and she shares the process for us to see and understand. And she does it all with the most delightful transparency.


Melinda French Gates embodies a new generation of philanthropic women. She is open about her core values and the experiences that inform them, and she has been willing to share her personal stories, offering insights to her motivations and the true depth of her compassion. Gates is open about the struggles she faced building her career as a woman in a predominantly male field, and she speaks and writes broadly about the importance of empowering women at every level of every kind of economy around the world. Her integrity is obvious in the way she puts her money behind her beliefs, but consider also the time she commits to traveling, meeting and speaking in support of her chosen causes. Melinda is understood to be an equal force with her husband in establishing the Gates Foundation, which sets standards for philanthropy around the world. Less known, but just as much in integrity with her own values and experiences, is the fact that she has been quietly funding female VCs with her own private investment firm. In these ways Melinda embodies integrity-centered leadership.


Each of these leaders has endured critics who doubt their genuine commitment, question their worth, and undermine the value of their messages. Their responses? To a person, each has kept their work centered on their core values, they've aligned their projects with those core values, they've shared their stories as a means of connecting and engaging, and as their careers progress and the world changes they adapt and adjust to continue serving as effectively as possible.


Bottom line: Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle and Melinda French Gates are inspiring models of integrity-centered leadership. While we can learn from noticing their good work, why stop there? We can evolve as leaders ourselves when we do more than admire them from afar.

Three things you can do-


· Take a little time to understand their issues and causes, and see if you have a point of connection. Glennon Doyle offers some heart-rending Instagram posts in response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Check them out.


· Share their work with others. Brene Brown’s books make great gifts. Most are short, tackle a specific topic, and reward the reader with mindset-shifting insights.


· Talk ‘em up! When we’re talking about the impact women are having in grassroots movements and as entrepreneurs, note how Melinda Gates encourages them by sharing her platform and her investment power. She's giving women a leg up, setting a great example, and more people should know about it.


Share your favorite leaders. Follow me on Instagram, find the post with this graphic, and comment with the name of a leader who inspires you. (#whenwomenlead #femalefounders #herstory #stayhuman #tothegirls #yesallwomen #socialactivism #gatesfoundation #brenebrown #glennondoyle #togetherrising #keepshowingup #womensrightsarehumanrights #voterup #socialjustice #powertothepolls #blm #votelikeamother #risethetide #environmentaljustice)


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