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Key Insights from Erica Dhawan and Molly Fletcher at the Virtual Women in Leadership Institute | Day 3 of WIL

November 4, 2021 Kristen Howe

Today, we heard from two incredibly inspiring women at the Women in Leadership Institute™Erica Dhawan and Molly FletcherWe also heard from Carla Harris, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, who was celebrated with the 2021 Legends in Leadership Faculty chair. 

Missed our Day 2 highlights, featuring Magic Johnson and Sheila Lirio Marcelo? Check out the recap of insights here and be sure to follow along on social media for in-the-moment coverage. 


Are you actively working to build and expand your network of trusted relationships? Do you understand the power and importance of building beneficial relationships with your colleagues? 

Through the “Connected” competency, we unlock the power of relationships. When we are connected, we leverage a broad network of relationships inside and outside of our organizations, and we demonstrate openness and appreciation of viewpoints and support the credibility of our colleagues. Above all, we look for opportunities to truly connect with others and contribute to their success.

It’s time to formalize the way we build and foster relationships—and get connected in a meaningful way for our own advancement.  

Erica Dhawan is the world’s leading authority on 21st-century collaboration and connectional intelligence. In today’s hybrid and virtual world, we need to learn new ways to communicate and connect with our teams and coworkers. Erica combines cutting-edge research with engaging storytelling to help us decode signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language. 

Erica’s newest book, Digital Body Language, is driving a workforce transformation—and Sheryl Sandberg recommends it as a must-have. 

It’s time to unlock the power of relationships (especially in a virtual world!) to best leverage the resources available to us and seize opportunity. 

Key Takeaways:
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has completely upended our working environments—we now live in a world of constant emails, virtual meetings and increasing digital communication. The question we as leaders need to ask ourselves moving forward is: “How are we using this digital shift to reimagine how we can truly be connected in our modern age?”
  • We can unlock the power of Connectional Intelligence to accelerate innovation, break down silos and foster breakthrough bottom-line impact by harnessing the power of networks.
  • Communication looks very different now, and we need to adapt our actions accordingly. We can no longer simply rely on body language and nonverbal cues to understand how someone is feeling. “Reading messages is the new listening, writing messages is the new empathy,” according to Erica.
  • People have different levels of comfort with and different expectations around our new ways of communicating—as leaders, we need to think about extraversion vs. introversion, and digital natives vs. digital adapters, to be able to harness the power of each individual’s voice.  
More from Erica: 



Molly FlectcherDo you positively impact organizational decisions? Do you ask for what you want and need, and expect to receive it?  

The “Influential” competency is all about delivering a messagean askin a way that leads others to listen and act. Influential leaders have an impact on important decisions made within their organizations, and they skillfully complement formal authority with effective personal influence. Influential leaders aren’t transactionalthey are relational, and they use their ability to influence to move the needle and make progress. 

Former sports agent Molly Fletcher knows a thing or two about being influential. She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word—a rare talent of business wisdom, relationship brilliance and unwavering optimism. Formerly, as president of client representation for sports and entertainment agency CSE, Molly spent two decades as one of the world’s only female sports agents. She was hailed as the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN as she recruited and represented hundreds of sport’s biggest names. As she successfully negotiated over $500 million in contracts and built lasting relationships, she also observed and adopted the traits of those at the top of their game. 

During her keynote, Molly shared her story of success as a powerful woman leader in a male-dominated, super-competitive field—the world of professional sports. In her keynote, she focused on the importance and the power of negotiation, and how that aligns with being an influential leader. Molly discussed the importance of relationship-building to best position yourself to influence, and gave us tools and her best tips to propel each of us on our own leadership journeys. 

It’s time to use our influence to inspire those around us to move forward—empowering ourselves to progress in our careers and our personal lives.

Key Takeaways: 
  • The ability to get curious and truly connect with others is imperative to being influential. Influence actually starts with curiosity, and “curiosity creates choices” in how we can influence others.
  • Negotiating successfully and influencing others requires confidence, and, according to Molly, “Confidence does not come from our comfort zone. Confidence comes from getting a little bit uncomfortable. That’s how we grow. That’s how we learn to ask for what we want and get it.”
  • Influential leaders impact important organizational decisions, and being able to negotiate in these situations is critical to ensuring the future you want—for both yourself and your organization.
  • If we want to be influential as leaders, we need to turn our thoughts into actions, and intentionally create impact. According to Molly, “We all have a choice in life. We can decide to be less than we’re capable of, less than we’re meant to be, less than we deserve—or we can go for more.” 
More from Molly Fletcher: 
  • Blog: Do These 3 Things to Be a Better Virtual Negotiator | We must adapt to our surroundings and access new best practices to close the deal virtually, explains Molly in this must-read blog post.
  • Podcast: Game Changers with Molly Fletcher | This energizing podcast from Molly is designed to help you maximize your influence and unleash your potential. In each episode, Molly takes you behind the scenes with peak performers to learn their secrets to success and discover how you can apply their lessons to your life. Join Molly each week to hear from her special guests—top athletes and coaches, transformative CEOs, brilliant thought leaders, and entrepreneurs and trailblazers from around the world. Subscribe now on iTunes or Google Play.
  • Blog: #LinkageWIL Inspiration Series: Molly Fletcher, Trailblazing Sports Agent on Resilience | As women leaders, we need to be intentional about our ability to recover fast, explains Molly. Check out these 3 ways to increase your resiliency in difficult times. 



Each year, Linkage recognizes an exceptional leader with the “Legends in Leadership” Faculty Chair. The leaders who make up the Legends in Leadership legacy inspire and lead with a keen sense of purpose, and they have dedicated their careers—and arguably their life journeys—to activating a deeper purpose in those around them.

Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. She was Chair of the Morgan Stanley Foundation from 2005 to 2014 and sits on the boards of several community organizations.

Carla is a role model for us all. She represents a woman leader who has risen through the corporate ranks in an industry that still has a long way to go before achieving racial and gender parity. Her ascent within the financial industry is inspiring—but she is also a servant leader, dedicating her career with purpose and unlocking potential in those she impacts.

Her passion lies in supporting and helping others. She has said, “We are blessed, so that we can be a blessing to others.” Early on in her career, she vowed to provide others with the tools and strategies needed to succeed. Carla’s “pearls of wisdom” are treasured by the thousands of leaders who have received them.

Her commitment to raising up other leaders and championing a new future of inclusion and representation in the workplace has taken many forms—including in her books, speeches and music.

To celebrate this honor, Carla sat down with Linkage CEO Jennifer McCollum for a conversation, sharing wisdom and advice on advocacy, sponsorship and being a trailblazer.

Key Takeaways: 
  • Don’t be afraid to be the “first and only,” a trailblazer in your field. Embrace being different as an asset, not a liability, and use your position to create a “halo” that can follow those who come after you.
  • Always ask for what you want, even if it’s uncomfortable. “If the one thing you could control was the ask, and you failed to ask, are you okay with that?” said Carla.
  • Leaving us with a pearl of wisdom, Carla encouraged a “blank-slate mentality.” We’re in an unprecedented time of change where “no one has the playbook—why shouldn’t your voice be the one that stays?”


What’s next at the Women in Leadership Institute? There’s more to come! Tomorrow, Carla Harris takes to the main stage to share her insights on the “Inspire” competency and will help bring the 22nd annual Women in Leadership Institute to a close. Be sure to continue to follow along here on the Linkage Leadership Insights blog and follow us on social media for in-the-moment insights. 

Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute is taking place November 2–5, 2021. Didn’t get a chance to join us for the live experience? On-Demand passes are now available, giving you on-demand access to the recorded conference from November 10, 2021–January 31, 2022. Learn more about On-Demand passes.

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Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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