Management

Female Leaders Must Leverage Their Strengths

The inaugural Women's Leadership Conference offers wisdom from influential speakers.

October 17, 2013
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Self-improvement lessons typically focus on offsetting or eliminating your shortcomings.

Laurie Maddalena enjoys turning that equation upside-down, encouraging people to focus on strengthening their strengths and leveraging them to lead others.

The CEO of Envision Excellence, an executive coaching and development firm,Patricia Jensen MDDCCU WLC offered that refreshing approach during a keynote address Wednesday night that kicked off the inaugural Maryland-D.C. Credit Union Association’s Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) in Leesburg, Va.

The event, which runs through Friday, includes sessions on the challenges of being a female business leader in the financial services industry, the power of networking and coaching, breeding loyalty, and promoting diversity.

The WLC features a host of influential speakers, including Patricia Jensen (right), an executive coach and consultant, and nationally syndicated Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary, who delivered Thursday morning’s keynote address.

Singletary shared her personal experiences about managing her children’s expectations of money, and the contributor to National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” encouraged attendees to nurture women toward financial freedom based on six steps:

  1. Be cheap;
  2. Be careful;
  3. Become a financial planner;
  4. Become a lover of budgeting
  5. Be informed about long-term care; and
  6. Be content.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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