On Wednesday, September 26, the annual Women And Leadership conference returns to Boise. One of this year’s speakers is Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Public Television.
Harrison worked in both Bush administrations and was a co-chair of the Republican National Committee for four years. Since 2005 she’s led the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and can hardly imagine a life away from public service.
"Real leadership," she says, "is supposed to not meant to feather your own nest, but to uplift other people and make a difference."
Preparing for her talk at the conference, hosted by the Andrus Center for Public Policy, Harrison was offended by finding so many business books for women that appear to advise them to be more like men.
"I did a Google search on books specifically for women," she explains, "and it basically starts from the premise that something’s wrong with us: how we dress, how we lead. And only if we can change our behavior, then can we possibly hope to succeed."
So she asked other women leaders what they were reading. Their responses: books about economics, cultivating internal drive and how to best access information.
"We just need to be focusing on building our skills," she says, "and strengthening the leadership qualities which we have, which are a lot. And referencing our own moral compass to define how we want to lead our lives. And not to be distracted by criticism that just is asking us to turn ourselves inside and out and lead by being someone else."
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