It is hard to think about the topic of leadership without thinking of the individuals and teams that I have worked with over the years. I have been fortunate to learn as much from them as I hope I have imparted along the way. It really is a continuous process, and I am grateful for each experience and what I have gained from it.
I have always thought of leadership as a legacy, in terms of what you give back and what you leave behind. Clearly you direct your focus and activities, and that of your team, to achieve the business objectives at hand. Yet, much of the value you deliver through coaching, mentoring, and developing others may not fully manifest until long after you have moved on from your role.
Embracing that responsibility is rewarding and humbling at the same time, particularly when you consider the role of female leaders. There is often an underlying symbolism that you learn to appreciate as you progress. At some point you realize that it’s not so much about individual accomplishments, but rather what your career success represents to other aspiring females. The progression itself can be inspiring. Beyond that you have a greater opportunity to set a positive example, to guide, counsel, and help develop the next generation of leaders. I believe that to be a very critical component of my job.
I have been with Kelly Services Inc. for 23 years. From my start as an entry-level supervisor to my current role as senior vice president, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a formal mentor for more than a dozen people and function informally countless times. It is important to be accessible for that exchange, whether speaking to a group of new recruits, discussing a career path, or responding to a request for guidance or perspective on a given issue. It demonstrates the capacity and willingness to grow and cultivate growth in others in order to achieve positive results. In the end, leadership is less about what you do and more about who you are.