Felicia Davis is a riveting speaker, author and award-winning leadership coach who works with emerging and experienced women leaders to develop effective leadership brands, compelling communication skills and the confidence to show up and be the leader they want to be. But she wasn’t born that way. She tells Dr. Nancy that she was born to 14 year-old children, then nurtured by her grandmother and an array of aunts, her father, teachers and friends (who both challenged her and supported her) until she emerged from college committed to help women take a stand for what they believe in.
Today, she offers that transformation for women leaders through her Branding Institute, with the “Brand Your Brilliance” workshop for high velocity leadership, and a hundred more initiatives. She calls her propriety branding process a “change catalyst” and agrees with Dr. Nancy that you have to find comfort in discomfort in order to grow. Felicia says, “I tell you Dr. Nancy, in every single big initiative I’ve taken on for myself personally, you can bet your bottom dollar, two things are sure. Number one is it scared the be-Jesus out of me. Number two, I didn’t have everything figured out.” She explains that she doesn’t start with a 10-point plan (no one does), but figures out step one, then step two and the rest evolves along the way. If you’re feeling stuck by life’s circumstances, read this post to see how Felicia pushed past her own roadblock to lead even more powerfully than before.
Why Women Don’t Use Their Voices
Felicia did a seven-city empowerment tour to support women to step up boldly and use their voice. But she also had many small group and one-on-one conversations with women to learn what stopped them from using their voices. She found it all hinged on three big things:
- Hiding out and thinking results alone would get them a seat at the table
- Ambivalence in decision making and being unwilling to trust their inner voice to make a decision
- Risk-aversion and not forming the personal self-confidence to get things done.
These open, honest conversations helped Felicia understand what shaped their identity and thinking. Dr. Nancy brought up the question that people asked her along the way, “Who does she think she is?” And Felicia said the real problem is when you say that to yourself. The self-critic and internal biases begin within and are the first roadblock to using our voices.
How to Succeed in the Post-Pandemic World
Felicia says there are three things we need to do to lead and succeed whether we go back to our jobs or try something new:
- Be able to have courageous conversations to speak up about what has weight in your heart.
- Have full-on clarity around why anyone should be led by you. This means you have to have a common goal or issue to get thing done. Felicia asks, “What is your vision for your industry in a post-pandemic world?”
- Gather your collaborative crew. She suggests that you find a diverse mix of people to serve as your allies, co-conspirators, supporters and mentors.
Both Felicia and Dr. Nancy agree that our biggest strength is to support one another—and that’s everyone. Black, white, male, female, all identities, cultures, ages and races must identify as “we.” Dr. Nancy says, “It’s richer and more fluid; it’s more creative. It makes more sense”
Listen to this conversation for more words of wisdom and guidance about how to shed your barriers and find your voice, and the other missions that Felicia supports: Take the Lead, whose mission is Parity for All Women by 2025, and the Black Women’s Collective that she founded after the Black Women’s March to remind black women who they are, to amplify their voices and give them more space to be seen in the right rooms, at the right time and in the right places. Visit Felicia’s website for the Branding Institute, her inspiring blogs and other programs to help women become the leaders they/you are destined to be.