Great Role Models Are All Around You

An essential leadership skill is the ability to lead diverse teams, while considering the importance of visibility. Being able to look around the organization and see examples of men and women leaders in action allows you to envision your own leadership potential. We know that female representation at the most senior levels is still a challenge in most organizations, and having powerful female role models is critical. Seeking out, appreciating, and learning from a member of your own gender important.

At times in my career, strong female role models who were senior to me were hard to come by. As the first female leader of the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, everyone above me and most of my subordinates were male. Although I learned a great deal from them, examples of strong female leadership were lacking. Through this experience, I learned that mentors and role models do not have to be higher on the organizational ladder than you are. They can be peers, colleagues, and subordinates.

For the last nine years I have had the privilege of managing compliance at Fannie Mae, reporting to both the board and CEO. Fannie Mae is an organization that is committed to diversity, and we engage a vigorous strategy to focus on promoting diversity and fostering inclusion in our workforce, among our suppliers and vendors, and among our partners in financial transactions. We have strong women leaders and role models on our board, on our management committee, and at every layer of the firm. I have learned and drawn inspiration from these women leaders, confirming that the ability to learn from strong and talented women exists all around us.

Throughout my career, I’ve been recognized for building diverse teams filled with strong leaders—both male and female. I have mentored and promoted these leaders for their skills and what they uniquely bring to the table, and because of what I can learn from them. Extremely astute emotional awareness, an outstanding network, inspired project management leadership, and strong legal knowledge are some of the skills my team members possess that exceed my own proficiency in each area. My role models are not only the senior leaders I encounter, but also are members of my own team. They inspire me, teach me, and set examples for me to follow.