To Grow, Stretch. To Lead, Connect
As I was trusted with more challenging assignments, I realized that my capabilities stretched beyond my limited perception of myself.
As I reflect on my career and my educational journey, I’m grateful to have connected with strong, kind, and generous mentors early on. In working alongside these individuals, I was provided with two priceless gifts. First, the gift of respect and patience, which helped me to replace my initial impostor syndrome with the belief that “I am enough.” Second, a model of conscious, effective leadership that I would later seek to mirror in my own career.
During my PhD studies, my supervisor was a woman who had completed her degree years earlier at Stanford under the guidance of a famous psychologist responsible for ground-breaking work in the area of personality, assessment, and impulse control. I was somewhat intimidated, given her academic lineage, but she was incredibly kind, generous, and patient with me. Her leadership style epitomized what Ed Schein refers to as Humble Inquiry: “The fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.”
Early in my academic career, I also had the opportunity to work under the supervision of a young psychologist who was incredibly brilliant and driven. From her I learned the value of hard work and accountability. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. As I was trusted with more challenging assignments, I realized that my capabilities stretched beyond my limited perception of myself.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge important male mentors who have also supported me during my career. Their encouragement led me to the understanding that professional growth is often achieved by stepping outside our comfort zone. My experiences with these mentors shaped my own leadership style and have underscored the importance of collaboration, humility, and vulnerability—qualities that are critical to learning and growing, both personally and professionally.
As Vice President of Sigma Assessment Systems, I now have the privilege of mentoring several young women and men in our business. I strive to emulate the qualities of my own mentors. I’d sum them up as follows:
- To nurture your team’s self-confidence, show confidence in their abilities.
- Be humble. No matter how accomplished you are, there is always room to learn.
- Encourage others to take on assignments outside their comfort zone. This builds competency, humility, resilience, and confidence.