We all seek to find purpose in what we do. Sometimes doing a good job in and of itself provides satisfaction of purpose. If you’re a teacher, a firefighter, or a police officer, it’s clear your work makes a direct difference in people’s lives. Contrast working at a for-profit organization, your primary purpose is to drive value for shareholders and it isn’t always obvious how what you do makes a difference.
Quoting Robert F. Kennedy, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.”
Early in my career I found I needed to balance providing value to my company (and its shareholders) while simultaneously satisfying my personal purpose of giving back. I have since realized those two purposes are not necessarily in conflict with each other, that in fact if done properly, they complement each other.
Good leaders hire the best people for their organizations. Great leaders help people grow to be the best they can be personally and within their organizations. Managing a rather large department, I have on occasion needed to address work-quality issues. One time in particular I had a young man who was struggling to fulfill his job role. After speaking with him, we determined his skillset was better suited for a different department. Shortly after helping him make the transition, he appeared not only happier but also became one of the top performers in his new department.
By caring for employees, advocating for them, and providing them with opportunities to advance, managers effectively foster a culture of loyalty and respect that strengthens an organization.
I was fortunate to have great leaders who mentored me—leaders who shared a belief that teaching and advocating for people are not assignments, they are a core value of great leaders. They helped me become the person I am today and guided me to become a more successful leader.
If asked what my greatest professional accomplishments have been, I would identify those who I have worked with, mentored, guided, and helped grow their careers. Watching them develop and fulfill their own dreams has provided me with great personal satisfaction.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
I have had many role models in my life. From my high school social studies teacher to colleagues and bosses, I have gained skills that have conditioned me to work for anyone under a myriad of circumstances. Each of these individuals instilled confidence in my abilities and taught me to never be afraid, challenge the status quo, and stand firm against what is wrong.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Make good choices and associate with those who mirror your values, integrity, and work ethic. Many women do not realize that professional advancement opportunities are indirectly impacted by whom they chose to spend their time with—in and outside the workplace.