What advice would I offer women aspiring to leadership positions? I attribute my success to three things: willingness to accept every challenge presented to me, several caring mentors who have helped me throughout my career, and an organization that values diversity and offers unlimited opportunities to anyone willing to take advantage of them. I have always trusted myself, done the best job I could possibly do, and been very flexible.
I believe that accessibility leads to opportunity. It certainly has for me. I started as a letter carrier in New Cumberland, PA. When I was offered a chance to fill in for my supervisor, who went on a detailto another position, I took it. This experience piqued my interest in management, and I applied for and was named postmaster of a small town, Marysville, PA. That opportunity in turn led to increasingly higher level positions. I am now one of three senior women officers on the Postal Service Executive Committee serving as advisors to the Postmaster General.
I am also a strong advocate for developing leadership skills among an organization’s future leaders. I believe the business achievements we have made were possible because of our organization’s top-down commitment to succession planning, starting with the officers and executives. Find an organization like mine that is diverse, that values employees, that offers them the tools they need to prepare themselves for advancement, and then promotes them based solely on their ability! For example, we recruit in colleges and universities, provide multi-level developmental opportunities for employees, and offer a corporate succession planning process that is open and fair. Naturally, if you do all this, you will get a diverse pool of the best people.
As a manager yourself, you must allow your team to be successful. You have to make sure they understand the direction the organization wants to take, set clear expectations, and then stay out of their way. But you also must be a good sounding board and support them in every way you can.