It is important for women to recognize that they do not necessarily need to mold themselves into exactly the kind of leader as the person who mentored them. My growth as a leader has revolved around finding my personal style and staying true to it. Women cannot be afraid to display leadership traits that might not have been associated with those who had success before them.
Men and women in particular have different leadership styles. Both are effective and necessary to make our board rooms stronger and more successful. My leadership philosophy—treat others as you wish to be treated—means I work hard to create relationships with as many people as I can. It’s important that employees at all levels feel comfortable coming into my office. This has certainly evolved from my first supervisory position where I was much less personal and mostly consumed with being perceived as tough and challenging to my employees. Being true to my personal style means I’m just as interested in having a conversation with the evening cleaning crew as I am a member of upper management.
When I speak with younger women I always advise them to take on those leadership roles that might make them feel a little uncomfortable. I think sometimes women are hesitant to start new positions because they do not feel proficient in all aspects of the job or they don’t know all the details of it. In those cases, it’s important to lose that sense of perfectionism and self-doubt. My best opportunities for advancement and recognition have occurred only after stretching my limits and accepting a position that felt uncomfortable at first.
I still have a lot to discover and grow in my career. My focus now is on learning how I can improve the quality of life for the people I work with and the customers we serve at Ameren.
Advocating more for others with differing points of view is also something that I can do more of now, and I take that responsibility seriously. Each member of my team will think about things in a different way, and that is where our strengths are.
My greatest accomplishment has been seeing that when I am true to my own leadership style my team can still realize substantial goals.
How has education affected your career?
I grew up in a small town so attending college served as the foundation of my career and expanded my ideas about what I could do as an accountant. I credit my experiences at the University of Missouri for introducing me to something like public accounting, where I was able to gain exposure to different types of businesses and diverse groups of people early on in my career.
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?
My mother, Judy, was absolutely my role model. She was the first member of my family to attend college, which she attended while I was in elementary school. I could see how hard she worked in her full-time job and pursuing her education so she could better both of our lives. I realized that education, a strong work ethic, and the ability to support myself were all vitally important.