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NAWO has identified five key areas that are critical for women’s engagement and success in operations:

  1. Authentic Leadership
  2. Career Management
  3. Commercial Acumen
  4. Negotiation and Influencing
  5. Personal Courage and Confidence

All of NAWO’s events and Professional Development Programs are aligned to one or more of these Learning Priorities. Following is a brief overview of each of these priorities, adapted from a report prepared for NAWO by the Centre for Ethical Leadership. In the coming year, a new Learning Priority is being added to the list: Building & Leading Diverse Teams.


Authentic leaders stay true to their own beliefs, morals, values and principles, making them more relatable and approachable. They take ownership of decisions and admit responsibility for their mistakes. They also recognise the power that comes with their role, and their responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees.


Career management plays an important role in developing the trajectory of women’s working lives. It has been shown to improve employee motivation and commitment, leading to better participation and job performance, and a greater sense of direction and purpose in their careers, while aiding in navigating unexpected challenges that may arise. It also helps to promote focus on pertinent skills that will best assist with future career prospects.


Commercial acumen is the ability of an employee to understand and handle issues from a business perspective. This involves making complex organisational decisions regarding competitors and the market to ensure the best outcome for an organisation. While recognised as a core skill for business leaders to be skilled at understanding, many employers find their graduates are lacking in commercial acumen. A leader with a great sense of business acumen can increase efficiency across entire teams, departments, and even organisations.


Negotiation and influencing in the workplace can take the form of discussions over resources, deadlines, and strategies to achieve success within an organisation through to determining suitable work schedules, asking for salary increases, or making the case for a promotion. These skills can also be important for swiftly resolving conflicts and making important decisions. Negotiating appropriate workplace arrangements can result in better access to childcare, family leave, flexible work arrangements, part-time work options, and other organisational benefits, all
vitally important to women’s career longevity and success.


Courageous acts in the workplace are important, as they allow for the correction of problems in the work environment, such as tackling mistakes, dealing with abuses of power, protecting co-workers in need, or resolving problems with no easy solutions. Improving workplaces through addressing these problems and encouraging moral fortitude can improve or eliminate a vast array of unwanted and negative behaviours. Personal courage and confidence are traits which should be encouraged across the workplace, but are most often found as a characteristic of authentic leaders.

Download Graphic of NAWO’s 5 Key Learning Priorities

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