Untitled design - 2021-09-26T162447.337

Leadhership Case Study

Karolya Vargscarr

Partner, Collective Consulting -  Former Chief Operating Officer of a Not-for-Profit Member Association

Karolya, or “KV” (she/they), had been in a senior administrative role with a not-for-profit for 7 years when she joined LeadHERship, and she had 9 direct reports. KV worked to translate the board of director’s vision into daily operations for middle management and was a key stakeholder relations leader. KV played a crucial role in helping employees meet their objectives and enabling the staff teams to serve the organization’s mandate.

At the 5 year mark, KV realized she had met all the goals she set for her work as COO, and that it might be time for a change. However, with Covid-19 and some other operational realities, it always felt like a bad time to leave. Gradually, KV began to feel like a victim at work and exercised poor boundaries, which led to a sense of being overwhelmed all the time. KV didn't feel successful or even relatively good at their job anymore and they knew that the problem wasn't everyone else - it was KV.

“I knew I was the problem, I just didn't know how to fix it." 

KV was stuck. They began to feel that the structure of the organization was not dynamic or inspiring, but ineffective and costly; and like no matter how well things were managed, everything could be changed or re-routed in the blink of an eye, and that discouraged her.

“I became barrier-oriented. It negatively affected my personal and professional life. I was becoming toxic and didn’t recognize the feelings I was having.”

 This feeling of insecurity made KV feel frustrated and defensive, and she lost sight of the fact that it was probably her who needed a change, not the organization she served. KV knew she needed 1:1 coaching sessions with someone who could see her through this to the other side, both to support her employer, herself, and her team.

“I was skeptical at first, but I liked and believed in Harriette once we spent some time together. Harriette is a boss, full stop. And if you break down the cost by hour it's very reasonable. The online platform and recorded sessions are also convenient when you can’t make it to the live session during the day.”

KV participated in our 5 Day Masterclass where she had her big ah-ha moment. She saw what type of coach Harriette was. Every day throughout the week Harriette helped her through a roadblock she didn’t even know she had.

KV was in a highly critical and reactive mindset. She was trying to "fix" everything at once. She was trying to give herself an out.

“LeadHERship was the fit I needed because continuing the way I was going was not healthy.”

The concept of getting off of the island KV felt they were on and learning from other women in leadership roles sounded too good to be true.

“I felt validation and empowerment.”

KV was able to see herself from another lens. She heard her own victim narrative from the cohort, she heard the same salary gap struggles from the other women, and she also heard about the other women’s lives outside of work, and processed how trauma shapes our sense of self both at home and at work.

“I didn't realize where some of my relationship toxins were coming from. I was also inspired and formed friendships within the cohort.”

LeadHERship helped KV realize that she was enough all along.

“You're not alone, your problems aren't unique, and everything is possible with the right mindset.”

KV learned that none of their problems were special and that was a huge source of relief. It allowed them to give themselves a break, and to think more strategically about what they wanted for their future and for their employer. Through that reflection, KV realized that the organization was doing very well, and that there was something more that she had to offer, but that it was not in the same role as before.

“LeadHERship is the leadership training for women executives and managers that has helped me the most.”

The LeadHERship program inspired KV to become self-employed and to create an offering that was her own. KV resigned from her senior management role, and partnered with another woman with whom she had worked in the past, and they brought Collective Consulting to life. Collective Consulting employs a collective of women and non-binary professionals with different areas of specialization, experience, and identities, in order to provide holistic strategic support to businesses. Just like LeadHERship.

“I just realized, there is nothing wrong with me - I’m a huge asset! I just needed to shift my focus.”

It was the realization that KV had more to offer, and something different to offer, that emboldened her to make the changes she needed to make, and to let go of the role that supported her and defined her for so long, but that no longer seemed to be a fit. KV now lives in complete gratitude for her past experiences, stays in touch with her past employer, and serves many organizations across Canada with her newfound inspiration and sense of purpose.

“I am doing what I love, what I think is important, and what I think the world needs more of. I am grateful. Thank you so much, Team Harriette!”