The weight of COVID-19
I have 3 small kids— a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old twin boys. In the midst of the pandemic, our nanny tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn’t help for 2 weeks while she quarantined and got better. My daughter, Taya, has online preschool and needs a lot of assistance her school activities. As toddlers, the boys also require a lot of attention throughout the day. My 76-year-old mom and 84-year-old step dad live with me and although they were a big help with the kids, they also need help themselves. My stress levels were much higher than usual during those two weeks but I got through it with a lot of partnership with my husband, Brad, help from my incredible sister and lots of understanding and support from my manager and team.
We don’t do it all
Asking for help isn’t easy for working moms. In the US, we celebrate the ideal working moms who can “do it all.” I take pride in being able to handle everything. The reality is we can’t. We need to normalize and celebrate when working moms need help. Because we do need help, even if it’s to just make time for ourselves.
Very early in my career, I had to provide constructive feedback to a teammate. I still remember how my voice shook during that conversation. I was so nervous for his reaction and didn’t expect his response. He was open, surprised and thanked me for taking the time to tell him. He confided that no one had ever shared that feedback with him. He worked on changing his behavior, and although it wasn’t overnight, I noticed the impact. I realized that while providing feedback isn’t easy, using my voice is critical.
As an introverted leader, one of the barriers I’ve faced throughout my career has been teaching others to value my authentic leadership style. Historically, our society has viewed leaders as those who loudly step up and shine their extroverted personalities. As people, we often gravitate to the “life of the party.” This mentality often extends into the working world.
The power of the introvert
I stay true to myself by not caving in to pressure to speak up more. I may speak up less in meetings but I make sure the value I add is still recognized. I coach my leaders to understand how I work, how I process thoughts and ultimately how I lead. I demonstrate the impact I make without changing who I am.
A career-launching conversation
When I became an Area Manager, I met with the Vice President for my department. I was brand new to the role and felt elated to lead a department. The Vice President told me that he saw me as a high potential leader and envisioned me achieving additional leadership roles. He even said, “I believe you have the potential to become a Director.” In that moment I felt flattered, shocked and scared.
I’d never really thought about my future and certainly didn’t have the confidence at the time to think I could become a director. He told me how valuable going back to school to finish my degree would be to achieving my goals. That conversation marked a turning point in my life. I went back to school and got my bachelors’ degree in Organizational Leadership through Discover’s tuition reimbursement program.
Pushing my abilities
Most of the career opportunities I’ve taken came from someone else believing in my potential. Leaders in my life taught me to see and embrace new possibilities for my life. I’ve made incredible progress over the years in learning to believe in my abilities. I’ve learned how to use my voice without sacrificing who I am. I’ve even started the application process for graduate school and will pursue a master’s degree in the psychology of leadership.
As a director now, my purpose has become helping others achieve their full potential as well. I want to make a difference in others’ careers. A spark in someone’s career can transfer to their personal goals and ignite their entire life towards a brighter future.
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