Evolving from a Pleaser to a Leader – DU Alumnae Shares Her Leadership Journey

We’re so excited for tomorrow’s Women’s Conference! There’s going to be so many amazing discussions and workshops surrounding women’s’ resilience, challenges and successes from individuals across the nation. One of those inspiring individuals is DU GSSW alumnae Christy Belz. Christy received her MSW from DU and now runs a coaching and consulting practice. The focus of her work is the empowerment of individuals and organizations. She’ll be presenting at the conference along with assistant professor Dr. Bensen. They’ll be sharing their journeys surrounding conscious leadership through the coaching process and the benefits of using the The Leadership Circle Profile (TLCP) tool. This week we had the opportunity to sit down with Christy and learn more about what helped her overcome the leadership challenges she’s faced since she graduated from DU. Here is her story:

When I decided to pursue my social work education at GSSW, I did so with a deep desire to serve and to make a difference. My “good girl persona” and my “need to please” drove much of my early practice. I sometimes did more work than my client to ensure that all their needs were met. Today, I have a different perspective and teach, train and coach leaders to be their most authentic selves, to lead from their strengths and embrace the whole self in the evolution and practice of leadership. I hope sharing my journey will empower you to embrace your gifts and talents to become the leader you’re meant to be.

This is my personal story of my leadership journey and a tool that I have found to be most beneficial to my own self-awareness and practice of leadership.

A Student – The Leadership Practice

At the DU Graduate School of Social Work, I was fortunate to train with seasoned social workers, like the beloved Dr. Jean East. My macro practice focus placed me in many of her classes. It was my honor to intern and work with her and Susan Kenney in their co-led nonprofit called Project WISE (PW). At PW we were committed and dedicated to the empowerment of women with low incomes. We supported them, personally, interpersonally and politically. We counseled, coached and stood with our women in advocating for themselves in their communities. The work was satisfying and engaging and state laws were passed based on our collaborative grassroots advocacy and community engagement. I loved it. After several years, when the co-founders decided to transition, I became the new executive director. I was excited and thrilled to be leading an organization that I loved and felt so passionate about, until… I started getting triggered!

Being a people pleaser and thinking everyone was supposed to like me, I did not provide the leadership needed to support the agency. I look back on those days feeling regretful of the ways that I interacted with my colleagues. I was overwhelmed, trying to work a full-time job on 32 hours a week and keep up with my family and young child. I resigned my position as my vulnerabilities and my shadow selves had caught up to me. I left feeling like a failure as a leader and incompetent to lead at all.

Because of this experience, I realized I needed to heal myself and overcome the shame I felt for leaving Project WISE. I started experimenting with mindfulness, somatic work, energy work and positive psychology. By working with individuals in my home, I created the work I do today called Emotional Energetic Repatterning. This work uses the energy and information that is stored in and around our bodies to bring awareness and support for conscious healing.  This work helped me to heal my own emotional wounds and shadows which has made me more conscious, competent and centered.

A Learner – The Leadership Circle and Reflective Practice

As a social worker, I did not fully understand that I was in need of a business leadership tool until a friend suggested I explore a 360-degree tool called the Leadership Circle. “This work is so you,” she said..  At that point, I had a private practice and was working every day with clients to find the best practices to support them in their day-to-day lives to resolve emotional traumas, PTSD, addiction and relationship struggles.  After applying a business leadership tool used in the for-profit market to my work with clients in leadership roles, I came to a better understanding of my own leadership potential and what had gone wrong at Project WISE.

The Leadership Circle Profile (TLCP), a 360-degree feedback tool, combines both leadership competencies with human development to increase our self-knowledge of who we are and how we lead. Through self-reflection, TLCP provided me insight into the vulnerabilities and shadows that I needed to “reveal and heal” to become a more effective leader.

In human service work, knowing ourselves and understanding how we are conduits for our community and organizational work may seem self-evident. Yet, until we know ourselves and understand the underlying conditioning that contributes to ineffective leadership, and therefore ineffective organizations, we can continue to fail. The Leadership Circle provided the road map to the underlying social, emotional and energetic patterning that kept me stuck in old patterns that did not serve me, or those I was trying to lead. It effectively showed me where I could grow and develop as a leader.


A Leader – Empowerment Coaching and Consulting

Today, I support other women in powerful leadership positions. The Leadership Circle helps us see what strengthens us as leaders and what gets in our way. Given the hard work of being in helping professions, I believe the Leadership Circle model has the potential to help human services leaders build on their creative competencies and uncover and examine their reactive behaviors. Ultimately, great leaders create and run great organizations.

I believe individual coaching is not only powerful but necessary when looking to “know oneself”. As a personal and professional coach, I can see what is too close for my clients to see. Together we uncover and then recreate new ways of being and work tomove from reactive to creative competences.

dsc_4550-final-web**Come explore the Leadership Circle work and the partnering I have done with an extraordinary leader, DU professor, Karen Bensen. We will share our stories and the experience of working together at the   DU Women’s Conference on 2/10.

DU Women’s Conference Workshop: Have the need to please? Evolving the Practice of Leadership– 2/10, 11-12:15, Driscoll 145



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