1. Mentoring and comradery among women is a critical recipe of success.
Being inspired, mentored, and coached by another female with more experience was pivotal in my success. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by an amazing female who was then rising through the ranks of the male-dominated field of fire service. What I learned from my mentor & friend, Kara, is what commitment, passion, and perseverance looked like. Kara gave me the courage to ‘leap’ into entrepreneurship even though I had fear. Now known as “Battalion Chief Kalkbrenner”, Kara Kalkbrenner went on to become the first female Battalion Chief in the history of our state.
I think an important element that contributes to success is our ability to support one another. It’s okay to be competitive as females, but comradery is just as important. I think utilizing a great mentor and gaining support from other female leaders is extremely important for success and growth whether it’s in your specific field, or not.
2. Work-life balance is a constant game of spinning plates, and time doesn’t expand.
Efficiency with my time became extremely important when I became a wife and mother while also performing as CEO in my business. My motto truly had to become “if it can be outsourced and it’s not something I completely love – then outsource it”! I became a master delegator in my home life. I found amazing people to support me, my family, and my home that enjoyed the things I didn’t and frankly are better qualified for those things so that I could spend quality time with my family at home, and quality time at work. Just because I could do the grocery shopping didn’t mean I needed to.
Effectively outsourcing ALL of the things that I can, allows me to be more present and in the moment at work and at home. Efficiency with my time at work and home is paramount when juggling the demands of both.
3. Networking is important and vital.
I don’t believe that women necessarily need to network differently than men; however, I find that the depth of relationships I want to create as a woman may differ. Some of the women I have networked with throughout my career have also become some of my closest friends. I do think finding common ground and shared perspectives with women can be easy if you can be open, honest and transparent. There are amazingly brilliant women out there who are willing to help one another and I see that pool of women consistently growing. In order to effectively network, it’s good to be fearless, open, and authentic.
4. Staying self-aware is the path to constant learning and personal evolution.
There was a great article in the Harvard Business Review on Authentic Leadership. The goal was to interview 125 leaders and learn how they developed their leadership abilities. The study concluded that there wasn’t any universal characteristic, trait, skill or style that lead to their success. Rather, their leadership came from their life stories and willingness to test themselves through real-world experiences and reframe their life stories to understand who they were at the core.
The best thing I think I can continue to do as a leader is to be willing to work on myself and commit to continual growth as a leader and a human being. That’s through whatever means available to me including coaching, counseling, reading, seminars, and continuing to listen to both positive feedback, and constructive criticism.
5. Continue to set goals and think bigger for yourself.
The challenge is working on the next layer of leadership and learning. The good news is it never stops and there is no finality, the bad news is that it never stops and there is no goal line.
I think as women we can be prone to second-guess what we have to offer. I’ve met many women who have been offered an opportunity to lead outside of their organization, or even their comfort zone, but can rationalize that they might not be ready for that next step; the truth is that we should seize those opportunities! With passion & commitment, we will figure it out!
Board leadership has provided me a different layer of learning. It allows me to learn from other successful executives and provides me an opportunity to leverage my skills and experience to add value to another organization.
The event included the following esteemed panelists: Christine Aguilera, Chief Financial Officer of International Cruise & Excursions, Inc.; Kimberly McWaters, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Technical Institute, Inc.; Karen Abraham, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona; and Trish Bear, President and Chief Executive Officer of I-ology, Inc.
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