I have had several significant defining moments in my career that dramatically shifted my focus in life. These moments taught me the most about who I am as a leader and, more importantly, who I am as an individual.
One of my first defining moments came while i worked at a small hospital in Detroit, Michigan. In just six years, I had worked my way up from an assistant to become the chief operating officer. I was successful in my job, but I had no work/life balance. I had worked so hard for this title that it took a significant shift of thought for me to see the need to redefine my life. This defining moment led to a conscious decision to create a personal definition of success based on my own core values. Based on your core values, challenge yourself to create a personal definition of what success looks like to you.
Armed with “balance” as my first value, I took the leap, leaving the job and title I had worked so hard to obtain to begin a PhD program. The learning challenges I experienced while obtaining a PhD made me recognize my second core value, continuous improvement. I have used this value to continuously challenge and improve the person I am and the things that I touch. My basis for personal decision-making is what will stretch me the most. There have been difficult times in my career when I have turned down positions with higher titles to take roles that would help me to grow the most.
As the vice president of Six Sigma at Textron, I continue to guide myself by my core values. I have expanded my personal view of continuous improvement to encompass Textron, the people who report to me, my leadership abilities, and myself. One way I do this is through collaboration, which has become my third core value. I strive to partner with colleagues, customers, and my team. Collaboration is frequently the hardest value for me to translate into action because it takes time, energy, and a conscious effort to turn a disagreement into an opportunity for finding common ground.