Women’s History Month: Wise Words for Future Leaders
Navigating a career and leadership roles within an organization can be tough. We asked some of our women leaders across the ScottsMiracle-Gro business to share the experiences, successes and challenges of their leadership journey in order to inspire and encourage us all.
Question: What is one core message you would share with women today who hope to enter a leadership role?
Give yourself grace – Ann Aquillo, vice president of corporate affairs
“I’ve learned to give myself grace. And to be willing to give it to others. It’s important to be forgiving with yourself when things don’t go as planned, learn from the situation and move on. I strive for grace, not perfection. Giving grace to others can be difficult, so try to better understand the context and background around the situation. When you extend grace to others, they’re more likely to follow you as a person, not just because of your title, and you can often build a stronger relationship.”
Be present in the moment – Ann Aquillo, vice president of corporate affairs
“The concept of work–life balance is a myth, and it’s even harder for moms who juggle a lot of family responsibilities. One habit that I try to practice is being present in the moment. When I’m at work, I focus on work. When I’m at home with my husband, daughter and labradoodle, I focus on my family. This isn’t always easy, and there are times when I fail and struggle to do both at once, but, for the most part, I’ve found some peace in being present in the moment.”
The power of being uncomfortable – Kristin Dean, vice president of human resources, shared services
“One thing I’ve learned during my leadership journey is that it’s not good to get comfortable. Oftentimes, it’s when I’m feeling uncomfortable that I grow the most professionally. Change isn’t always easy, but with change comes the opportunity to learn and grow. I’ll often do a gut check and ask myself, “Am I feeling comfortable? And if so, why?” If the answer is yes, then, maybe it’s time to stretch, approach the work differently and put myself out there.”
Stop apologizing – Kristin Dean, vice president of human resources, shared services
“I’m not sure if it’s due to personal nature or the fact that we’re women, but we have to learn to stop apologizing so much. I’ve found myself apologizing when there was nothing for me to apologize for, and that’s not okay. I would apologize before sharing information in case it was not perfect or for having a different point of view. It’s important to find the confidence in yourself, even when you don’t know everything. It’s okay to not be perfect, be curious, ask questions when you don't understand and share your point of view. You don’t have to apologize for that.”
Saying no and being respected for it – Janelle Restum, vice president of regulatory affairs
“As I’ve grown in my confidence and leadership role, it’s become easier for me to say no when I need to. However, I’ve learned that I need to say no in a way that my colleagues will respect and understand. It’s important to provide the context, background and reasoning for that answer. Once colleagues have all of the information, they’re more likely to understand and respect my decision.”
The one in the chair – Amy Michtich, vice president of supply chain
“Most of my career, I’ve held what could be considered non-traditional roles for women. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me along the way. When you’re the sole woman at the table, or the one woman amongst a group of men in a meeting, you have to be your own advocate. Also, you have earned that seat at the table, and it’s important for you to "own that seat.” Make sure your voice is heard through purpose and clarity of your message, along with having relevant timing. As a woman, you also have to learn to be a better negotiator for yourself. It’s not always easy, but this is a necessary business skill to lead and serve our teams. This is our ownership piece as women in closing any perceived equity gaps. In time, there will be more women at the executive table, however, for now, it's our job to prepare ourselves and others to enable that transition."
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