Authenticity was a concept mentioned early and often throughout the EDI experience. Learning about who we are at our “Authentic Best” had a lasting impact on me as I started a new role just after graduating from the 2018 Leadership Discovery Program.
In September, I began my new role as Senior City Planner for the City of Pasco. Pasco is a mid-sized city that has been one of the state's fastest growing communities for over a decade. This new opportunity will allow me to work on various long-range plans but, I am most excited about the chance to work as a planner for the City I have known my whole life. The EDI program coincided with my job search, from dusting off my resume and searching for jobs to the interview and offer process. The timing was perfect. Engaging with my classmates as we learned from our facilitators helped me throughout the process of identifying specifically what I wanted from my next role, and why. The projects and plans I will be working on will allow me to use my analytical background combined with my passion for public involvement. Working with numbers is fun, however it is important to understand that these numbers represent real people in our community. I accepted the new opportunity with a humble appreciation for the responsibility it brings.
So, who am I at my authentic best? I am a compassionate and enthusiastic believer that our city and community members deserves equitable access to the things that some of the world's most livable cities and neighborhoods have. EDI taught me to channel my passion vocally with clear intent while remaining true to myself. I look forward to utilizing the skills I gained from EDI as our city plans for the future.
“If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley – but be the best little scrub by the side of the rill; be the bush if you can’t be a tree”.
I remember putting this poem up on my wall the very first time I walked into my place of work 22 years ago. At that time, I was young, starting out in my career and happy to be doing what I was doing. I landed a job as an Accounting Assistant for a general contractor in the Pacific Northwest, and I know I must earn my keep. That poem by Douglas Malloch was my guide. I knew I was young, full of potential, yet I understood that I had to start somewhere. At that stage in my life, I gave it my best, worked with excellence and put in 150% of whatever my present task was. I was the youngest employee in the company.
Fast forward 20 years later… I have gone through role changes in my career, and have been continuously promoted to increasing levels of responsibilities. I got promoted from Accounting Assistant to Staff Accountant, to Accounting Supervisor, then to Accounting Manager. I became the co-chair of the company’s Lean Committee. I grew up, got married, started a family. I am no longer that youth from years ago. I am still authentic, and only better. Outside of work, I serve the community as Board Director for both the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics and the International Community Health Services Clinic boards. In those leadership roles outside of work, I learned a great deal from other leaders – CEOs, CFOs, principals of the Seattle business community and learned best practices from other companies and industries which I can then apply to my professional role. It’s like landing a job in other corporate settings and learning best practices without having to leave my current work. In all these years, there is one common denominator. I have kept that poem, in the original stationery where I printed it 22 years ago, and it served as a reminder for me that at whatever stage I am in my career, I am giving my best and excelling in what I do.
A TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY
EDI came at a time when I was at the pinnacle of my career and ready for the next step. I have everything that I need, as well as the soft skills, but I needed that final push, that final formula. The EDI Leadership Navigation Program has filled that void and enabled me to take the next step forward and find my voice. The seven-month journey with my cohort and intense training with executives sharing their real-life key moments and leadership journey were invaluable. The seven months with the EDI Leadership Navigation program was very transformative, to say the least. It gave me the exposure to real-time, real-life executive perspective, insights and soft skills that not even an undergraduate degree will prepare me for. The topics discussed are things that are not necessarily taught in business schools, those are the things and knowledge that can only come from experience. I had several key takeaways, and if I have to drill it down to the top three, these are it:
1) Intent vs. Impact – EDI allowed me to become fully self-aware of my blind spots. I realized that even with good intent, my impact, or others’ perception of my actions, may come across differently. EDI helped me to see those blind spots and navigate through it so that my intent is reflective in my impact.
2) Polarity Management – this is about choosing between two good qualities, but conflicting ones. An example is being authentic and effective. As Colleen Yamaguchi shared, this is about finding the balance between the two areas and being intentional and self-aware so that you balance out the qualities without leaning in too much to one at the expense of the other.
3) Leading Change - at this capstone session, we were given the toolkit to successfully navigate through large-scale organizational change. Change is the only thing that will remain constant in any organization and in life in general. My ah-hah moment is the realization that leading others through organizational change will only be effective if you’ve done the background work to prepare the people for it. Without that key step, the highest level of performance won’t happen. If you’ve worked with the people through the process and brought them to the higher level, they can successfully navigate through anything that comes their way.
A wise person once told me: Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why not perfection? Because perfection is a destination. Once you reach it, what would be next? Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why? Because it’s a journey, you always innovate, improve and grow, and continuously pursue to be the best of whatever you are.
“There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do… and the task we must do is the near”
I was recently promoted to the role of Seattle Controller of Lease Crutcher Lewis, a regional leader in general construction in the Pacific and I am embarking on a new path in my leadership journey. I bring to this role my diversity of thought, first-hand experience, best practices from other organizations, and my collaborative leadership style. I see my current organization, already high-functioning and effective, and I can only see that it gets better from here! EDI has prepared me for this role, and I can’t wait to pour out the goodness and excellence that lies ahead. I still have that poem on my desk from 22 years ago, and I look forward to the positive impact that I bring which will benefit and contribute to the organization’s success. I wanted to end this by quoting the last lines of Malloch’s poem, “If you can’t be a sun, be a star. It isn’t by size that you win or fail, be the best of whatever you are!”