#LeadLikeAWoman with Julie Holton

Principal Strategist + Owner at mConnexions 

 Learning what not to do as a leader is just as important as figuring out what to do. Some people are talented in their skillset, but not everyone has the ability to lead others with compassion, patience, and grace.

What does leadership mean to you?

We often think of leaders as politicians, CEOs, and celebrities because they are in the media spotlight. But I think the best leadership is often homegrown and on a much smaller scale. Actions don’t have to be big to be impactful. As everyday leaders, we can have a powerful impact on the lives of those around us.

I’m drawn to the concept of servant leadership. We know that good leaders lead by example, but if we take that a step further, the best leaders find a way to serve a purpose bigger than their own. Instead of coming to the table to see how you can grow your own success, look around the table to see how you can help others rise. And, because we know that a rising tide lifts all ships, everyone wins.

Who has influenced your idea of leadership?

I have been supported and encouraged by some incredible leaders. The strongest influences though may have come from people who fell a bit short. Learning what not to do as a leader is just as important as figuring out what to do. Some people are talented in their skillset, but not everyone has the ability to lead others with compassion, patience, and grace.

Some of these lessons for me came fast and furious during my 12 years working in TV News as an Executive Producer. I worked with some exceptionally talented people. In a fast-paced, adrenaline-packed, high-stress environment, you see the best and the worst come out! It was during these times that I learned that the end result isn’t just about your product, it’s about your people. How do you make them feel? How are you supporting and motivating them to the next level?

My biggest influences in leadership lately have come from my co-hosts and guests on the podcast, Think Tank of Three. We are three women from different backgrounds who have come together to encourage, empower, and support other women, both personally and professionally. Our show tackles topics like inclusion and diversity, how to negotiate salaries, breaking away from imposter syndrome, and how to earn (and keep) your seat at the table.

Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What do they add to the table?

My biggest hope is that we are paving the way for the day when no one gives a second thought to a woman being hired as a Fortune 500 CEO or being elected President of the United States. Women are often naturally nurturing, in addition to being intelligent decision-makers. The business world needs both strength and compassion, so women in leadership positions is a natural fit.

What we actually need to focus on is breaking down the barriers that prevent women from taking seats at the table. Societal norms still heavily stereotype gender roles. For instance, we often ask “working moms” how they manage to balance taking care of children while also working outside of the home. Yet “working dads” typically aren’t asked about whether having children slowed down their rise to professional success. This kind of change begins with how we are guiding our youngest generations. I love mentoring young girls through organizations like Grit, Glam & Guts and Garden of Hope, because it’s inspiring to see how quickly they take our lessons and create something even better than we imagined.

How are you leading in your career/community?

I do not believe in finding a work-life balance. To me, it’s all just life. Balance doesn’t actually exist, so we have to be passionate about each way we choose to spend our time. I am incredibly blessed to be building an agency where my work is helping other businesses to grow and thrive. We are mission-driven and like to say we are good people who do good work for other good people because we want to use our talents to help others succeed.

I’m also passionate about giving back because I believe we all have a role to play in building a better community. I sit on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association in Michigan, where I serve as Secretary on the Executive Committee and also Chair of the Concern & Awareness committee. I also volunteer time weekly with organizations like Voices of Color, Grit Glam & Guts, and Garden of Hope.

Professionally, I also serve on the Editorial Board and as Issue Co-Editor for the Legal Marketing Association’s Strategies Magazine. Each month, I also co-host a networking event in Lansing called TDL Networking (The Drinking Lunch).

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

My best advice is to connect with the right people to grow your tribe. Just as we say that it takes a community to raise a child, it takes a community to help each of us grow throughout all stages of life. Find advocates and mentors — don’t just find people who are going to tell you what you want to hear. You need people who will help you figure out how to improve, especially when that means facing the toughest challenges head-on. You also don’t need just women in your corner — find men who get it and can be your advocates!You have a purpose, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, cut yourself some slack when inevitable mistakes happen. We’re all human! The right tribe will support you through thick and thin.

What is the best way for someone to contact you?

Connect with me on social media! You can reach me personally on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also email me at julie@mconnexions.com or call me at 517-208-2087 and learn more at mConnexions.com.

We’d also love to have you join our marketing conversations by connecting with mConnexions on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Our mConnexions Marketing Minute podcast is on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, Anchor, and other podcasting platforms.

You can also follow Think Tank of Three on our website, various social media platforms, and our private group on Facebook.