Throughout my career, the inflection points for change have included two themes: a senior mentor who simultaneously challenged and supported me, and my willingness to push myself to tolerate more risk than my comfort zone would normally allow.
This combination provided the tension that served as the change catalyst which has molded my success and management style. As such, I’ve learned the importance of never saying “no” to the offer of a big challenge, even when I had enormous doubts about my ability to pull it off. Trusting your ability, skills, track record and creativity is the key to convincing others that you are up to the task of leading them.
As my career has evolved, I find that my management style has also evolved. Along with encouraging those I mentor to bite off that big challenge and have confidence in themselves, I spend less time directing and more time listening and responding. This truly helps people grow, and I’ve seen this by observing successful leaders that I admire.
The key to coaching and motivating people is to facilitate their own insights and learnings. And of course, that does not happen if you are the one doing all the talking. Effective leaders create communities to provide connections, support and shared experiences for their members. My most meaningful career experiences have been as a participant in these communities. Therefore, as a leader, I always include the creation and sustaining of such a community.
Often, I am approached by people about how to obtain work-life balance. This balance does not always come naturally to me. I have to expend energy to ensure that I stay in balance. I do believe that women can successfully balance a fulfilling career and a dedicated family life. For me it is a question of priorities and sequencing; you can have it all, but not all at once. Maintaining this balance in partnership with a spouse or significant other through commitment to the primacy of family and mutual support of each other’s career makes the journey much more rewarding and a lot less lonely.
Balance is something I want for all, but I’ll remind them that this goal, as with all goals, takes focus and drive to achieve. In the end, I hope I too can become that mentor who challenges and supports people and puts them on their own road to success and fulfillment.