Personal power and influence are key ingredients for success in life. Developing power begins with preparation and a strong focus on leadership, but the intersection of power and leadership is more intricate than that. Leadership is about who you are and how well you harness the resources available to you. Be committed to something. Be passionate. Create a path to power that is defined by purpose.
The successes in my career and my ability to navigate the challenges are rooted in early mentoring and strong leadership models. From the examples of preparation, courage and service set by my mother and grandparents, to the support provided by sponsors and mentors throughout my professional career, I have always had a passion, and been driven, to coach and mentor. I view it has an obligation. Early in my career, that meant assuming leadership roles in professional and community organizations. Later on in my career, it meant exposing and encouraging young blacks and Latinos to enter the world of Investment Banking, and today it means coaching, mentoring and leading by example within JPMorgan Chase and my community. Mentoring has been a passion driven by purpose to leave a legacy of unlimited possibilities.
Recognizing the importance of strong leadership skills as a success factor in corporate America, in 2003 I co-developed and implemented in partnership with the president of Spelman College, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, the first Leadership Center for Women of Color: Spelman LEADS, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. Each year, the Spelman Leadership Center nurtures the ability, strength and dynamic intel- lect of women of color, preparing them for the world of work.
Truly, the Spelman Leadership Institute is the realization of my passion for mentoring and building networks of power and influence for women of color. I count it a blessing that I was exposed to powerful examples of courage and leadership early in my life.
The examples provided by my family taught me the following:
- Faith and family always come first.
- Never ask for permission to lead.
- Never ask if it is okay to take a step in a new direction.
- Leadership is a willingness to leave your mark.
The lessons of preparation, faith, family and community that I’ve learned from my mother, grandmother and influencers in my life have built bridges that I am now proud to usher others across.