I was not born to be a leader as some people are, but I have grown into the role and have come to enjoy it. As the second of six children, I learned the value of teamwork, negotiation, compassion, and humor. I had to find my own voice, and I had to learn to use it effectively.
Having benefited from wonderful mentors, I am now at a point where I can reach out to others. what I have learned is that I get as much from the experience as I give. As the first woman member of our company’s executive leadership team, I am often asked what advice I would give to young women who aspire to be leaders. The advice below applies equally to men and women, young and old.
Be passionate about your work. I wake up most days excited about my role in making a difference for our customers and employees. If you are not passionate in your role, consider a change. Passion is critical to success.
Take risks. Many believe that if you work hard, success will follow. Working hard is important but only one piece of the equation. If you know you are ready to take on more responsibility, let others know. If offered a position you’re not quite ready for, consider taking it and build support around you to learn the skills you may lack. Don’t wait until you are perfectly suited for that next step. Timing is everything.
Build and nurture a great team. You’ve often heard, “Hire people better than yourself.” I would add, “Build a team with diversity of experience and perspective.” Surround yourself with individuals who will challenge you. Listen to your team members and thank them often for the work they do. Their accomplishments will reflect well on you.
Save time and energy for the people you care about. Remind yourself regularly why you are building your career. Make time for the people you love and allow yourself time to enjoy life.
Enjoy the journey. Try not to think of your career as a “track” where you are either “on track” or “off track.” Instead, think of it as a journey with detours and forks in the road. If you can shift priorities for a time, I believe you can have it all. The detours and forks in the road will make you a stronger, more balanced person.