I grew up in a large, raucous, but loving, family; and I now have a supportive husband and children. Therefore the challenges I have faced have been primarily self-generated or as a result of the work situation.

I’ve always been competitive, so I get revved up when I see a challenge to overcome. It’s great to feel that sense of accomplishment when success is achieved.

How do you challenge yourself? First it’s about stretching your boundaries. Get out of your comfort zone. Take some risks in assignments. Don’t stay on the sidelines in team or support roles. Take on the uncomfortable leadership role. It won’t always be smooth; it’s not supposed to be. Taking on the more difficult challenges and being successful build your ability and confidence to take on even bigger challenges.

Second, it’s about making the hard decisions. Don’t shy away from the facts. Use them to build the case for change; but then paint the picture of the destination and reward positive moves toward it. Inevitably, the hardest decisions are the ones that have an impact on people. You need to do what’s right for the business but treat those affected with dignity and respect.

How do you challenge others? Enter each interaction with positive intent. Hold others to the same high standards you set for yourself. Coach constructively and often. Have the difficult conversations; they provide significant opportunities for both parties to develop. Create opportunities for others to challenge themselves.

Offer support and empathy when needed; be flexible and work closely with someone going through trying times. My company loyalty was forged by how positively I was treated when i was pregnant, as a working mom with small children, and during the deaths of my parents. These circumstances may involve only brief stretches of time over a long career, but they are remembered and paid back a thousand times over.

A good leader strikes the right balance between challenge and support. I am extremely grateful for the assignments and challenges that have enabled me to grow as a person and a leader, and strive to help those I mentor be successful in facing their challenges.