Emerging Leader Spotlight: Dawn Hepburn

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence. This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Dawn Hepburn, Territory Finance Manager at Brown-Forman.

Dawn Hepburn July 2014 headshot_opt(1)What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?

The telephone has been crucial to my success. Email is useful, but five minutes on the phone can often prevent an hour (or more) of back-and-forth email misunderstandings. The telephone isn’t a substitute for in-person contact, but it remains a great way to connect. Complicated topics are best reviewed verbally, with email used to reinforce the verbal message, not deliver the initial message.

My support network is also important. I rely on a network of friends and co-workers to help me work out difficult issues. Sometimes it means I need to brainstorm ideas, or flesh out the best way to negotiate a difficult topic with management. And occasionally I need a pep talk! I am fortunate to have a number of people who can help me in these areas.

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?

I have begun asking for feedback frequently. Questions like “did I add value,” “do you have any feedback for me,” and “do you have any suggestions for next time” are great to ask my co-workers after meetings. I’ve learned that some people are hesitant to provide feedback because they are concerned they might hurt my feelings. By asking for feedback frequently, I demonstrate to others that I am open to it, which helps them feel more comfortable sharing their comments.

What is the next step you plan to take in your career to develop your leadership skills?

One of my mentors suggested Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Goldsmith focuses on adjusting interpersonal communication styles for success as we move up the corporate ladder. He reviews how “blind spots” limit many of us—which I personally found very insightful. He also recommends involving co-workers and family members in your self-development objectives by telling them what you’re working on and asking them to help hold you accountable. This is something I’ve applied in my work and professional life. Most people are more than happy to help – particularly if your behavior change benefits them!

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as high potential emerging leaders?

Recently over dinner, another mentor suggested that many answers to leadership challenges are inside myself. Know yourself. Know your strengths!

I have done a lot of self-exploration work, and have learned to not try to be someone I’m not — it will always come across as false. For example, I am a “level 10” extrovert, and many of my co-workers (and my husband) are introverts. Extroverts have strengths and weaknesses just like introverts; and even though I am in a finance role, I don’t pretend to be introverted to “fit the mold” of a finance manager. Having said that, I think understanding the introvert/extrovert difference is crucial for developing good working relationships. “Temper your weaknesses but don’t forget to leverage your strengths.”

You recently attended a session with Jo Miller. What was a key takeaway from her session that you have started to use?
I need more female mentors in my life!

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Ann Roushar

Ann joined Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. as Operations Manager in 2011. Her background is in events and program management, however, with the launch of Be Leaderly, Ann has discovered a new passion for the communications side of the business, including blogging, social media and graphic design. Ann’s vision for this blog is to make it a “must have” resource for women in business, a virtual space where women can feel comfortable about sharing their career wins, woes or worries. Follow @ann_roushar on Twitter.

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