The following post was contributed by Meridian Board Chair Megan Beyer, who sat down with Global Communications Fellow Abby Haley to discuss the intuitive collaboration of women’s leadership, and . This post is part of the HERspectives series honoring Meridian’s leading ladies in Women’s History Month.
Who is your biggest female inspiration or mentor?
I am one of the legions of women in public diplomacy who can thank Ann Stock for advice, pep talks, the best political strategy, and loyal friendship. Ann has worked at the White House, in the corporate world, the Kennedy Center, and the State Department at the highest levels. She has navigated situations where world peace hangs in the balance, yet she is unflappable, always perfectly coifed, smiling, and confident. Her motto: “Never let them see you sweat.” Her work ethic, second to none. Her preparation before a meeting, trip, or event is complete. Whatever the situation, no matter how high the stress or demanding the task, she has run all the traps, and is ready. It is because of this preparation, she leads with ease, humanity, humor, and kindness.
Ann is the person I turn to for advice of all kinds, and I am but one of scores of women who do the same. Her approach is one of subtle discovery. When asked to weigh in, she walks you through the situation, helps you explore all the options, and then as you finally come to the perfect solution, she smiles. You can almost hear her thinking, “Very good, grasshopper.”
What does ‘leadership’ mean to you?
Leadership means having a vision and being able to catalyze a collective will to manifest the vision. My evolving philosophy on leadership is that women are intuitively good at this. We should relax and enjoy building teams that feel secure, trusted and empowered. I am not a fan of those who say women must modulate their voices to prove their ambition. I prefer women lean into their instinctively collaborative humanity: nurturing teams, communicating with colleagues and sharing power. You see it at Meridian. The effect is palpable—staff and employees are more productive, feel aligned with the team mission, and most importantly, feel appreciated.
I used to be hard on myself as a leader. My wins were just what should be expected; the losses, agony. I had a boss who once chided me for re-playing a defeat: He said, “Step over the body and keep on walking.” It was a bit graphic, but I got what he meant. It’s over, don’t blame yourself or others. Ruminating on defeats takes time away from your next success.
How do you give back, or build connections or roadmaps for future women leaders?
I have a group of women on speed dial and when they call with a problem or want discuss career changes, I am ready to help. This is what other women have done for me, and it is a joy to do it for a new generation of women with so many strengths, so much confidence, and – let’s hope – a much more even playing field.