Every participant’s journey during the Leadership Evolution Masterclass Series (LEMS) is unique. For Lara Morris, a Chartered Accountant (SA), Joint CFO of Newmantle (Pty) Ltd, a Central Services Company, wife, mum of 2 and coffee-lover, it was unlocking her potential and inner confidence and realising her ability to inspire and empower the people around her.
A year of challenges and growth
At the beginning of LEMS Lara held the position of Group Financial Manager. And, just weeks after her first LEMS session, South Africa was placed into a Covid-19 hard lockdown. Juggling the brand new experience of remote work, while being a mum to 2 young children, taking care of household chores like cooking and cleaning, Lara was concerned about taking time out for LEMS. She decided that she needed to also prioritise herself and scheduling time for LEMS and the reflective homework assignments was a way to invest in herself too.
She had made a commitment to developing herself so she could be a better leader, wife, mom and colleague; because the skills learnt in LEMS serve you, not only in the working world, but in all areas of your life.
Covid-19 brought new challenges at work. Working and leading a team remotely while keeping her team motivated and feeling connected was one of her top priorities. She was also given the added responsibility of heading up the Groups TERs submissions and needed to expand her knowledge to become an expert in this new Covid-19 relief benefit. She found herself attending numerous online meetings where she needed to be vocal, actively participate and take the lead. This called on Lara to believe in herself, her abilities, and her valuable inputs and contributions.
Lara shares, “A huge ‘aha’ moment was experienced in lesson 2 of LEMS, where I realized that people only value people who value themselves. All of the self-doubt and negative inner talk would not help me, my family, my company or my team. I needed to step up and believe in my ability to make a positive and impactful contribution at a time when the Group’s employees needed me most."
Applying the LEMS frameworks for handling tough conversations, effective delegation and communication, combined with growing levels of self-confidence and belief helped Lara to stop apologizing and assuming a submissive role and start being her authentic self while unlocking the potential and inner confidence that was hidden for so long.
Learning to have tough conversations, setting boundaries, and believing in the value that I bring to the table are just a few of the many skills that have become new foundations for me since LEMS.
The power of LEMS lies in self-reflection; for Lara it was recognizing her value and believing in the worth of her authenticity that gave her the confidence to passionately lead her team through a year filled with uncertainty.
“Learning to have tough conversations, setting boundaries, and believing in the value that I bring to the table are just a few of the many skills that have become new foundations for me since LEMS,” says Lara.
Lara’s experience of LEMS is that the program highlights your own uniqueness and connects you to others by realizing you are not alone in the challenges you experience. Using these insights, Lara found that looking for similarities and shared experiences with colleagues enabled connection and effective relationship building.
While Lara had started to see herself differently through the LEMS journey, it was during the graduation ceremony that she realized that her peers looked up to her for being a wonderful mom while juggling a challenging corporate role and that she had inspired them to do the same.
Through her LEMS journey, she began to trust that she was unique and valuable, that she had the ability to lead, inspire, and empower her team while being the wife and mum she aspired to be. Lara completed her LEMS journey in 2020, a most unusual, disruptive and challenging year where she pushed herself to achieve new heights in her career and in her life. The commitment to her personal development, the belief in herself and her new-found levels of confidence enabled her to end her year on an incredible high after being offered a promotion to the position of Joint CFO.
LEMS provides a safe and empowering environment where likeminded individuals support and encourage each other in their personal journeys.
Having attended the SAICA LEMS program for female CAs(SA) in 2020, Lara says, “LEMS enables you to set your own boundaries, to perform optimally in every aspect of your life. This allowed me to thrive both as a mom and a woman in business. My homework partners were the most amazing ladies that I had the privilege to spend time with, these women were an inspiration to me, a listening ear with unwavering support and encouragement.”. Post LEMS, they are still in touch, the value of a peer who has your back and only wants to see you thrive is immeasurable.
If you found Lara's journey inspiring and would like to read more about the impact of LEMS, click here for Kershne Rayappen's inspiring LEMS story or add your name to the waitlist for a future LEMS program.
LARA'S FINAL TAKE AWAY
My message to anyone thinking of doing LEMS is do it for YOU because you deserve to be the best version of yourself. LEMS unlocks, enables and highlights the best of you.
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About the author:
Usha Maharaj CA(SA) is an Executive and Leadership Coach in South Africa who went from small town trainee accountant to Director in a Big-4 audit firm. Her 16+ year corporate career had all of the highs and lows of a high performing workplace where she shattered setbacks, crushed challenges and conquered fears to enjoy a highly successful career. She now inspires women, ambitious individuals and executives to reach their own highest levels of success while living a balanced and happy life.
Find out more at www.ushamaharaj.com.