Leading Change


“Women need a seat at the table. And in some cases, where there isn’t one available, we have to create our own table”. -Meghan Markel, Duchess of Sussex

By Susanne Puerschel

For most of my life, I copied masculine energy when I was put into a leadership position.

In my own career as a professional ballerina, in corporate America, or even in my family life, I applied characteristics like dominance, assertiveness, competitiveness, and authoritativeness with no room for learning, compassion, or nurturing. I wasn’t really a leader, more like an

“I’ll tell you what to do-er”.

I copied what I had seen from my mother, my teachers, and my female corporate leaders’ sample.

And I was exhausted, consistently. Fully out of alignment with who I was, who I wanted to be, and whom I was becoming.

The doubt in my leadership ability was eating every little bit of skill I had acquired and I started manipulating my behaviors by reacting poorly and by letting ego-based actions run my day-to-day.

The day I was lying on the bathroom floor at my corporate job, unable to move anymore because the dis-alignment had made my body so sick, I also had a liberation.

Stop being someone that is trying to fit in and start leading with what I know intuitively is right.

Society often refers to leadership in corporate settings, only.

“Inspiring teams” and “leading the company to success” are often used phrases.

But we need to consider that leadership starts within us, first. We all are the leaders of our own lives and that means all of us can and should be interested in what it means to be a great leader. Because our behaviors impact others around us.

Denying yourself your own needs as a leader is a common mistake many still believe in. If you are not at your best you won’t be able to harness and inspire the best in other people. Being hyper-aware of your own needs will enable you to be aware of what others need.

I personally denied myself adapting to this thinking and living because it felt extremely selfish. Until the day I stepped into a room filled with 500 other women.

Learning that we all are seeking permission to be our own leaders and defining what leadership means to us, as women, was the beginning of giving myself permission to courageously step into what I knew my soul wants me to do.

Leadership is defined to be about emotional intelligence, awareness, critical thinking, prioritizing self-development, innovation, strategic thinking, clarity, action, development of others, communication skills, and radical candor.

And where all of this is very accurate I also want to encourage you that these definitions are other people’s definitions of leadership.

I’d love you to explore whom you want to be as a leader in your own life, as a mother, as a wife, and as a business owner.

“Leadership is a process, and it requires commitment” -Simon Sinek

As a former professional ballerina, allowing the process to be the reward is a daily challenge for me. It was imprinted into me that only results count as evidence of my personal leadership abilities, not the creation of an environment that allows ideas and results to happen.

For about a year now I have been working and leading myself into believing that I can lead change within the performing arts.

I have danced on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and learned very fast that the lack of many leadership principles is one of the main reasons why so many performing arts organizations struggle all around.

R.I.S.E. Media was born out of my love for the performing arts industry. An industry that has yet to discover its potential, its power, and its impact.

For centuries, the arts have been seen as something “nice” to have within our societies, treated more like a hobby, not a business. Which leads to the perpetuation of old habits and thinking.

When the impact of the pandemic crystalized within the industry, change management leaders were and are required and not many have the courage, yet, to step into this position. We have treated the arts as this fragile, money-chasing institution and, over time, it became just that.

Fearful to learn and to develop, evolve, think, strategize and speak up. An environment where people have to ‘fit in” was created. An environment that encourages and rewards Followers on every possible level, not Leaders.

And even though I always knew that I am capable of leading people into and through change, I, too, had become a Follower of systems that, I thought, could not be changed. Until that pivotable moment on the bathroom floor.

To become a leader of your own life and with that give others permission to do the very same we have to start by asking a lot of questions.

Stop leaning on what has been and start questioning if that is still the truth.

Be willing to be wrong and make mistakes.

Have a vision and know what you want. As a quick note here… knowing what you want often starts with knowing what you don’t want.

Start listening more, to others and yourself.

Communicate often and clearly.

Commit to being a lifelong learner and practice it every day.

About the author

Susanne Puerschel is the Founder and CEO of R.I.S.E. Media- a worldwide community that leads the performing arts industry into financial independency, podcast host, former international ballerina, and mother of three boys.

R.I.S.E. Media’s mission is to build the long-wanted and needed bridge between performing arts, leadership, business, and technology. Leading an industry into change requires every single participant. It requires courage.



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