Effective corporate leaders paint a clear picture of the company’s future and help employees understand their role in reaching that future. The most important job of any leader is to develop the people around them. I believe that you can learn from every interaction and find continuing inspiration in the energy and ideas of people at all levels in your company.

I have been fortunate to have been our company’s first female bank president, first female human resources leader, first female in the executive suite of offices and the first female responsible for the back office of the enterprise—technology, operations, real estate and procurement. These experiences provided valuable insight that may help other women who have the ambition to become corporate leaders:

  • LEARN TO DELEGATE. It builds future leaders and leverages your ability to make more of an impact through people. By delegating, you develop a network of colleagues and talent that you can tap in the future.
  • EMBRACE WORK AND FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES by identifying what’s important to you. Manage your time and priorities to maximize your satisfaction and impact on others professionally, personally and spiritually. And reexamine those priorities often. You are not the same person at 45 that you were at 25.
  • BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. Ignore the stereotypes of gender or position. Sometimes you may need to resolve conflicts using a decisive, assertive and direct style. Sometimes, building teams and being a nurturing leader is more effective. You can learn to be effective in many different ways, and you must find what works best for you and your circumstances.
  • Hold ethical behavior as a given in every situation. Never compromise “doing what’s right…every time.”
  • Appreciate everyone’s contributions and do all in your power to give everyone the opportunity to develop, contribute and succeed.
  • Do your best in any assignment you accept, and be open to taking a risk on yourself. It may sometimes be uncomfortable, but the payoff is often more opportunity to grow.

The first of our company’s core values states that employees come first. FORTUNE, Working Mother and Business Ethics magazines have validated our commitment to this core value by recognizing First Horizon as one of the nation’s best employers. Doing the right thing for employees, customers, vendors, shareholders and communities is key to success. And placing employees first on that list of constituents creates a secret weapon for success that is not easily duplicated.