Photos courtesy of Hillary Ehlen
Tell us briefly about what you do and your journey.
By title, I lead an amazing communications team who help create transparency within our organization. We use a lot of creativity and new ideas to help people connect with our vision and with one another. I also lead an incredibly talented administrative services team who keep CoreLink connected through day-to-day functions that are vital to our organization’s success. I also serve as the executive assistant for CoreLink’s CEO and Vice President of Information Technology. This part of my role allows me the unique opportunity to keep a pulse on what’s happening strategically so I can infuse that information into the other areas of my work. Putting my title aside, I think the main purpose I serve at CoreLink is to keep people connected – to themselves, to our work and to each other. I love bringing people together for the betterment of their personal and professional goals.
How would you define your leadership style?
I want people to know they are supported and cared for. The people we work with are first and foremost, humans. They have families and friends, joy and sadness and incredibly full lives. As leaders, we need to recognize that in order to retain top talent, we need to allow people the opportunity to balance their lives. We need to support the whole human, not just the working professional. We need to show empathy, kindness and compassion, and we need to do it every single day. It’s our responsibility to connect people to what inspires them, and I love doing that.
As a leader, I’m also not going to tell people what they want to hear because it’s the easy option. I’m going to have tough conversations with people and it’s because I care about them. If I feel, as a team, we’re not stepping outside of our comfort zone enough – perhaps we’re pushing “the easy button” on a few things – I’m going to challenge our status quo. I’m going to push people just a little bit further than they think they can go because I know they can get there.
What top 3 pieces of content would you recommend to Ladybosses?
- I’m a book reader and my all-time favorite book is The Last Lecture written by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow. Randy also has a lecture on YouTube called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” that I absolutely love.
- I’m currently enjoying Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’m finding it to be a great book about dialoguing, listening and taking a step back.
- I’m also addicted to any video produced by SoulPancake (you can find them on YouTube). They are easy to watch and easy to share!
How has your leadership style changed throughout the years of managing a team? What do you wish you had known day one?
I’m no longer embarrassed to admit that I used to think being a leader meant being stoic. I had an imprint in my mind of what a “traditional boss” looked like and while I never felt comfortable there, it was hard to step outside that.
In 2017, our yellow lab, Josephine, died and it changed me both as a person and a leader. I worried about how my team would see me if they saw me emotional in the office. I didn’t want them to see me as human because I didn’t want them to think I was weak. When I came into CoreLink after losing her, the outpouring of love I received from colleagues brought me to tears. In hindsight, that milestone in my life made me a stronger leader. It showed I have emotion, I have pain and I can accept compassion. It was really a turning point for how I lead and I have the people of CoreLink to thank for that. The love they showed me gave me the bravery to encourage others to be themselves. It’s a true gift that I received and that I’m now able to give.
What do Ladybosses need now more than ever?
Calm. We need to manage the busy out of our lives to allow ourselves to reflect, relax and unwind. It is so vitally important that we secure our oxygen mask before helping others, and so often, I see the exact opposite happening. It’s not okay to take care of others at the expense of ourselves. When I meet with people and I hear they are busy, I ask, “Why are you so busy?” And then I challenge them to take something off their plate. It’s a small step, but it helps bring the calm we so desperately need.