Define leadership.
If you don’t have self-awareness, you can’t lead other people.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I’ve learned great things from the many leaders who I’ve encountered. I’ve worked for Kraft and Newell Brands, and I had a short stint at the Kellogg Company. While I was able to take things from great leaders at each of those places, I’ve learned that I want to manage in my own way which may be different.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
One of the things that I do for business development marketing is to help teams and other executives craft how we’re going to market back to somebody whether it’s a proposal, qualification packet, or whatever. I decide where my team is going to spend their time and that dictates where the whole group is going to be directing their energies.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Empathy. As a good leader, you have to understand people. You have to be deliberate about knowing the people who work for you. I think there are a great many people in leadership positions who think they know their team, but they don’t really. You have a responsibility not to push too hard into people’s personal lives, and you have to be respectful of the boundaries. But, understanding your co-workers, being aware of their personalities, and giving them a good work-life balance is essential.

What do you do for fun?
My husband and I believe our family comes first. My girls are at the age now where just being with them is fun. We play tennis and golf together; we boat together. Wednesday nights are girls’ nights, when I do cardio tennis and then have dinner afterwards. One of my other passions is gardening. I love being in my yard.

What’s your “go-to” spot to eat lunch in Southwest Michigan?
University Roadhouse. Great food. So many business people that work nearby never venture out, and I’m always hearing, “I’ve never been to the University Roadhouse.” I say, “How have you lived here for this long and you haven’t been there?”

If you could go to dinner with three people who would they be?
The Pope. Marcus Buckingham. Condoleezza Rice.

What are three things that you cannot travel on business without?
My Microsoft Surface Tablet, flip flops—got to have flip flops—and ZonePerfect Nutrition Bars. I always have Zone Bars stashed everywhere; someone’s going to be hungry!

Who would you most like to meet?
The Pope.

How do you get your most creative ideas?
In the shower. It’s that one, quiet place where nobody’s going to talk to you. If I have to have a crucial conversation with somebody, I have it in the shower first, just talking it out with myself. I don’t sing in the shower; I think in the shower. No one can hear me; they think I’m just singing, but I’m talking it out.

What inspires you?
The times a client comes to me and says, “We need help with this, but it’s totally outside the boundary of what you normally do.” I’m energized by that challenge and inspired to get in and solve the problem.

What are your daily routines that keep you developing as a leader?
I try to go on LinkedIn every day and find a quick little article that I can read on something that would help my team, help me, and help the company.

What is your favorite leadership book?
The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It’s a classic that conveys the essence of delivering feedback swiftly, getting to the point, and moving on.

What’s the App on your phone that you can’t live without?
ToDoist. I also am a weather freak, so I don’t know what I’d do without the weather app on my phone.

How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation?
We have fun. My team works incredibly hard. We’re the team that everyone comes to and says: “Make this look good. Make this pretty. Come up with this idea. How should we market this?” We’re responsible for so many things that I would say a construction company’s management team should not be able to do. We can do so much. Honestly, I’m amazed by my team every single day. The things that they come up with, and their creativity and innovation, honestly, inspires me. It’s amazing.

What are you doing to ensure your continued growth as a leader?
Evolving with the culture, and, really, the culture of leadership. I read a lot of leadership books, and in fact, have a bin of books that I’ve read. There’s always something to learn. Some books talk about how leaders can’t lead from the front. You have to lead from behind. You have to be able to lob out an idea and then see how it gets tackled. If you’re leading from the front all the time, you are taking all the glory and your team never gets to share in it. I like to lead from behind.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
Opportunity, and in particular, the opportunity for our Millennials. I’m a huge proponent of internships and externships and bringing our young people into the workplace to see industry and people working in their environments.

What was the last book you read that had an impact on you?
The Christian book The Shack by William P. Young. It’s an amazing story about how a man finds God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and overcomes the grief of losing his daughter. If you are spiritual, it is a must read.

What’s one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Ruling with a heavy hand doesn’t fly anymore, especially if you’re going to manage Millennials. You push too hard, and they are out the door five minutes ago.

What is your “Life Quote?”
It’s a John Maxwell quote: “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”

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