Breaking Barriers and Setting Boundaries at the ELFA Women’s Leadership Forum

by Rita E. Garwood Mar/Apr 2024
How do you show up as a leader? How can you ensure your time and energy is devoted to the projects and passions that are most important to you? Speakers at the ELFA Women’s Leadership Forum explored these topics and helped women leaders step into their power and become more inclusive leaders.

Rita E. Garwood,
Editor in Chief,

More than 200 attendees came together in Nashville, TN, for the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s 2024 Women’s Leadership Forum. This year’s theme, “Breaking Barriers & Shaping the Future,” featured sessions designed to empower women in leadership and help them get closer to the elusive work-life balance we all seek.

This was the first in-person event for the ELFA’s new president and CEO, Leigh Lytle. Attendees learned more about Lytle during a fireside chat in which she talked about her background and realities of family life that come with two children who have parents with big career goals.

Marie Garvey, leader of The Good Girl Rebellion, The Garvey Group and Crazy Busy Women in Balance, the keynote speaker of the event, encouraged women in attendance to step into their own internal power as leadership shifts from a more heroic model to an inclusive model. Garvey offered strategies for women to employ to show up more powerfully, delegate more effectively and say no to requests that are not aligned with their goals.

To close out the first day of the event, award winning speaker and author Erika Gilchrist led the session, “Burn Bright, Not Out! Combatting Professional Exhaustion.” Gilchrist walked attendees through the stages of burnout and discussed factors that contribute to exhaustion at work. She shared a model with attendees that outlined the path a person takes from comfort, to fear, to learning, to growth and to what Gilchrist called the “Unlimited Zone.” Toward the end of the session, Gilchrist asked attendees for one word that described how they were feeling, and “empowered,” “motivated,” and “inspired” were the largest words on the resulting word cloud.

The second day of the event featured the breakout sessions “How to go from pleaser to powerful,” led by Garvey; a session on creating work-life balance; “Prioritizing Well-Being for Performance and Profitable Growth,” led by Melissa Hanson from Cat Financial; and a session on team cohesiveness led by Gilchrist.

“A key takeaway for me was the importance of prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries to protect our time and energy,” Maggie Holly, senior vice president and credit and operations manager at Hanmi Bank Equipment Finance and a member of the ELFA Women’s Council, says. “This enables us to say yes to endeavors aligned with our passions, rather than giving in to fear or obligation.” •

Rita E. Garwood is editor in chief of Monitor.

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