#LeadLikeAWoman with Katie Abraham

When women lead, they don’t forget their simultaneous role as mother, sister, wife, friend. That’s our secret weapon. We don’t separate our role of caretaker from leader. It’s inherently within us and gives us a special leadership ingredient unlike any other.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership means you are not afraid to act when others are. You don’t take the existing trail, you blaze a new one. A leader stands up and speaks for what’s right when others won’t. A great leader makes others around them feel comfortable and creates an office where people feel safe and respected. Leaders are approachable, operating under an open door, first name basis policy. Trust is key to a leader’s success. A leader is kind, shows respect for everyone, and is welcoming of new ideas.

Who has influenced your idea of leadership?

My dad. When I was younger, he worked his tail off to make my mom and I happy. I recognized early on the care he took to find the proper work life balance. Even though it seemed like his demands at work never took a vacation, he was always there for me. He only missed one school concert! I will never forget when he came to one of my high school golf tournaments―in his suit and dress shoes―and walked along my side in the rain and sleet, or when he joined me for two weeks in Europe at the conclusion of study abroad, or the countless hours he put in helping me conquer a tricky subject in school. To this day, he is always there even though his calendar is booked daily with back to back work meetings and events. I have been blessed to have people tell me everywhere I go, “Katie, I love working with your dad.” Or “Katie, your dad is a special man, I have never met anyone quite like him.” I can’t tell you how proud that makes me as his only daughter. He taught me by example how to treat others in the office and what it means to be loved by a man. He is my #1 example of what it means to lead through and through.

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

Women have a special gift of bringing the entire package to the leadership role. We know how to be stern, but we also know how to show compassion. We know how to set boundaries but also how to make people feel comfortable telling us if those boundaries get crossed. We know how to solve problems, but we also know how to listen. We know how to encourage a colleague and how to cry along side them in troubled times. When women lead, they don’t forget their simultaneous role as mother, sister, wife, friend. That’s our secret weapon. We don’t separate our role of caretaker from leader. It’s inherently within us and gives us a special leadership ingredient unlike any other.

How are you leading in your career/community?

The very fact I am a woman in what is still a very male dominated energy industry makes me a leader. I am the first female to hold the position of Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal Electric Association (MMEA), since its inception, approximately 60 years ago. I am honored to hold this title and I work closely with my members to lead on several issues including engagement efforts, workforce development, and mutual aid. One of my primary leadership goals when I started was to visit all 40 members within my first year. I will accomplish this goal in the coming months and have thoroughly enjoyed getting a feel for the communities in which public power thrives. I genuinely value my members’ work, the customers they serve, and doing all I can to help them succeed.

I also enjoy leading women to the energy field. I am the newly appointed Treasurer for Advancing Women in Energy (AWE), an organization dedicated to recruiting, promoting and developing women in all energy-related fields. I take an active role in helping plan events focused on education, networking and mentoring.

I also have an active role on the planning committee for the Michigan Energy Providers Conference (MEPC). We create a forum to educate individuals regarding energy issues, enable partnerships within the industry, and facilitate communication regarding energy policy in Michigan. I remain focused on using this platform to highlight women leaders in the industry. 

What is the best way for someone to contact you?

kabraham@mpower.org

 

Michigan ATHENA is a program dedicated to developing, supporting, and honoring women leaders throughout Michigan. This program is part of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiatives. To find out more about this program please visit us at www.michamber.com/ATHENA

If you have any questions or would like to nominate someone to be featured in our #LeadLikeAWoman series please email me at akeimach@michamber.com