Leadership, Assertiveness, and Doubt with Dot Bekker
Dot Bekker a past President of the Network and member of the Board of many women’s organisations presented at The Network April event about leadership, assertiveness and doubt.
Having lived “many lives in one lifetime as she has lived in 6 countries on 2 continents”, her input on the matter was valuable and inspiring. At the age of 58 she decided to leave her 22 year marriage, and drove home to Zimbabwe, a country she had left in 1981. She had driven through the USA, and Europe, so decided do the same with her trip to Africa with her Blue Bell, a 20-year old Ford Transit (which she converted into a camper) and completed the drive to the almost unknown on her own (bar 2 weeks with her niece). The trip was rich with adventures and interesting acquaintances – one of them being even kings of Nigeria. 20 000 km, 8.5 months, and 18 African countries later, she made it to her destination.
She achieved her mission to be back in Africa by the age of 60.
Dot Bekker, who is now a business coach and a digital media expert, pointed out that Leadership is not always something you need to do from the top or the front, and top to bottom leadership is patriarchal. She described managers as “interpreters” because they must present the task to the people executing them. On this topic, she referred to Ricardo Semler’s book “Seven-Day Weekend”, in which a special form of leadership is presented: having everyone else lead
Women lead differently from men. During the COVID-19 crisis, this way has proven to be more efficient. Women should ask themselves, how they want to lead.
Most importantly, we can choose to lead from anywhere. It is really about influencing people and inspiring them – things which can be done wherever and whenever we want. On the other hand, the choice not to lead is just as valid as any other decision. She added that the best leaders have a set of values that they follow, and help and inspire others. The important point with leading is to own our choice and be responsible for the example we are setting up.
Dot emphasised the importance of pairing assertiveness with self-confidence. She follows the principles laid down in the book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the main principles is not to take things personally, as well as asking oneself: is this my problem or someone else’s? She recalled that we do not to fix everything or everyone. Dot added that people will treat us the way we fell we deserve to be treated, so we should start with ourselves and set boundaries as a base of self-confidence.
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”, said Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Doubt is the thief that steals your dreams”, warned Dot, who stressed that she did not doubt that she would make it back to Zimbabwe. Instead, she took things one day at a time. Whilst recognising that fear can be a huge obstacle, she stressed that overcoming negative experiences can help us regain confidence. Her advice? To keep exposing ourselves to things and experiences that will make us more confident.
As a final thought, Dot Bekker stressed that “a woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be!” This interactive event thus showed that: leadership is not always something you need to do from the top or the front; assertiveness is an essential language (verbal and non-verbal) for women; self-Confidence is the gift you give yourself to enjoy your life; and doubt is the thief that steals your dreams.
Dot Bekker is currently working on setting up a school and creating a boarding school in an existing government hostel in Zimbabwe. She also plans to organise a boot camp with girls from rural environments in the country which will deal with critical thinking and assertiveness.
For further information and to support this project, donations are welcome on the website of Dot’s charity, Kusasa. As always, you can also write to The Network at email@example.com for more information.
Dot’s book has been launched and is available in e-form on the website until 29th April (after that it will only be on Amazon as an e-book and paperback).