These are three things I, as a leader, believe everyone should know. They are a reflection of the conversations that took place on day 1 of the Executive Summit held by the WFF and of my own life experiences.
Bossy. Loud. Opinionated. Vocal. Talkative. Stubborn. Creative. Visionary. Narratives and titles change with the times, and from my experience age, but at some point or another most every (women) leader has embodied the epitome of the aforementioned words like a greeting card placed to proceed and define them. Take them as you will, when you get to a certain level in the corporate world, leadership is seen as not only a positive thing, but a critical component to running a successful business. Those character traits (often frowned upon in youth) become the strength and driving force to constructive, necessary, and often critical conversations.
The days of the ol' boys club are shifting and a more inclusive landscape is revealing itself. As someone who has taken each step towards business, and brand ownership, weighted by my previous experiences, I recognize that the stories we tell (and discover of ourselves) matter. That's why, the Executive Summit is such a special place. It's a time when TOP leaders in the food industry come together to share their learnings, and inspirational moments, in hopes of creating a lasting legacy of inclusive and well-nutured future leaders.
Now that I've framed the context, here are three key take aways from my own journey to leadership that I find to be universal (that were reaffirmed by the experienced panel today):
1.) Overthinking something can sink you. Find the balance of thoughtfulness, clarity, and measurable results and you will win every time. Very often, we start the problem solving process by focusing on what we can't do. When we left fear cripple our actions, we block the full potential of our creativity and potential contribution to a cause. Let go. Trust yourself. And give it all you got, always!
2.) Demeanor and energy count! One piece of feedback I've held with me since I was very young is that I have a great energy. I like to live my life in a positive way and genuinely enjoy seeing others smile through our interactions. That said, I recognize that projecting that "bubbly" personality doesn't come easy for everyone. My recommendation? Practice. Everyone, at any age, enjoys a happy person. Be the leader you want to see and the rest will come naturally.
3.) Find a mentor. No matter how independent we can be, we need each other to succeed. As the saying goes, the best way to not repeat a mistake of the past is to look back. This goes for work experience also. If you don't know how to do something or get somewhere or reach that "unattainable" goal, ask! Or better yet, READ! It's very possible that your biggest influence has a waiting list of emails (i.e. -- this is Ellen, Oprah, and Jessica Alba for me), but what doesn't mean we can't still learn from them. Take initiative to internalize why you like what they project and emulate that for yourself. Think "what would (insert imaginary mentor here) do?". Works like a charm.
If you or someone you know needs to be a part of the leadership program that the Women's Foodservice Forum offers, email me directly at Stephanie@MsDallasMaven.com!