When I sit down to write my annual plan, I find that each year I start with the same objectives:

  • Support and demonstrate a positive, ethical work environment that enhances the performance of the diverse business team.
  • Provide clear communication on priorities and expectations and provide forums for continuing two-way communications.
  • Ensure alignment with corporate priorities and build the foundation for future growth.

My focus on leadership today is very much about these objectives, which push me to create an environment where individuals and teams can thrive and deliver results. Although leadership is frequently defined by positions and titles, my personal definition is “authentic self-expression that creates value,” from my favorite leadership book—Leadership From the Inside Out, by Kevin Cashman. Some of my thoughts based on this definition are as follows:

LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING VALUE. Leadership is about critical thinking, creating strategy, driving change, executing results, developing people and getting the job done. This creates value for your company, your shareholders, your associates and your community.

LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT COMMUNICATION. Everyone needs to understand the strategy, the expectations for change, the targeted results and the priorities. The diversity of each organization will require a multitude of communication formats and venues. Leadership styles vary, but leaders must be able to energize and inspire others at all levels in the organization to bring out their personal best.

LEADERSHIP HAS TO BE AUTHENTIC. It’s about servant leadership. This means letting people know that you can be trusted. This means walking the talk and doing what you say you’ll do. This means caring more about the organization, your team, and the communities in which you live and work than about your own accolades. I’ve found that leading with integrity carries me through all situations and lets me sleep at night.

Looking forward, the advice I give to readers is the advice I
give to myself. Focus your energy on giving and making a difference, and the personal rewards will follow. For me, that means mentoring and developing others, giving time and resources to my priorities in the community and being a rainmaker for women. Where will you make a difference?