That’ s me. 10 Years ago. On my best friend’s wedding day.
I had been working for about 6 years by then, and was in my first leadership position.
I felt it from the beginning of my career that I wanted to manage teams and people. Just didn’t know if I could and if it would really be a fit.
I knew I was a generalist, not an expert and did not have the ambition to become one. Something that in the financial industry often is perceived as the logical step. Especially in wholesale banking. You can grow towards management, once you are the best.
I did not believe in that model. Leadership is a skill. And it does not fit with everybody. It is not something that grows on you when you close a lot of deals or have all the expertise. I knew that already. So, i consciously left wholesale and started looking for opportunities were it was recognized that leadership is a skill that needs to be developed.
Once I found the perfect match, I had to take an assessment. I remember vividly the conversation with the senior manager that would hire me, about my profile and outcome of the assessment. He asked me my own take always. I named everything in there that summarized where I lacked experience. Not very strategic, I know (now).. But I’m a pretty honest person and quit critical to myself so that was my natural reaction. He listened very carefully and corrected me “That is not what I see. I read everywhere that you have the potential to develop what is needed.”
That was such an eye opener. It is true. The report explicitly mentioned that I had the potential to develop certain things. But all I read, was that I thus did not have it yet.
The way you look at yourself is sooo important. I tend to limit myself, in my own thinking, in my perception about myself. It took me quit the development to improve on that. But its still there. That’s my first feeling that pops up if I want to do something new. I focus on what I do not have or could improve on. That’s a strength, because it keeps me sharp, modest and self aware. But its also a huge risk if you want to grow further. If you do not believe in your own potential, how will you convince others to believe in you?
Self confidence, gives confidence to others. I know that now. Still have my self-doubts, but recognize them and change my mindset when I do.
I know I am not the only one struggling with this self image. Its mainly a female issue. An issue where I can help others with. Because I’ve been there and have been able to grow through and work with it.
Today, 10 years later, I am an experienced senior leader. Within that same company. Few kilo’s heavier 😉
Back in Wholesale, adding a lot of value and expertise that brings diversity.
I have followed my own path. Growing my leadership skills ever since that first position and am currently heading around 300 employees in 20 countries, as Global Head of Product Operations. I am in my flow, doing what I do best in an environment that provides me with what I need. So I can be my authentic self and be appreciated because of it.
Today is also the day that I founded my own company: Ellemonte.
Elle monte. That is French for ‘She Rises’. Because we can and will rise.
If I can, you can! And I will be here to help you with that.
We all need someone to guide us through the ‘common’ or ‘male’ way of thinking and doing. To show us how it can be done. To give us trust in our potential, even if we might not (yet) see it ourselves.
Exciting times and a lot of new stuff in development!