I would advise anyone that aspires to lead to first be mindful of their ability to serve and mentor. Find ways to leverage your position so that it creates a path to progress for you AND your teammates. Leading is powerful but doesn’t always require having a traditional leadership title.
What does leadership mean to you?
I’ve always believed that leadership is the highest form of service. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to lead in very untraditional ways, usually involving a deep level of service and support.
A Robert Greenleaf quote says it best, “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
Who has influenced your idea of leadership?
When I think about this question, many people and experiences come to mind. Specifically, ones that were extremely difficult. I was once under the authority of an “unorthodox” leader that many would describe as difficult and maybe even unpleasant. However, I wouldn’t trade that experience because it influenced my idea of leadership in the most positive way. I am truly grateful for this “leader’s” example. It taught me how lead as a servant with empathy, grace and integrity in the face of opposition.
Most importantly, for the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed the “quiet” leadership of the volunteers and paid professionals at the American Red Cross. Our team always leads with a humanitarian heart; impartial, neutral and independent of politics. When the mission is saving lives, leadership is important and it always reveals itself as service.
Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What do they add to the table?
I love this question but, I think it should be; why aren’t the roles that women currently dominate already recognized as firm leadership? To me, I compare this change in thinking to the new science behind the food pyramid. For example, we once believed that we received the most nutrients from a large consumption of carbohydrates which dominated the foundation of our food pyramid. However, new science (or new thinking) shows that plants actually give us the best overall nutrients. Nonetheless, we should analyze the current “leadership pyramid” and begin to reevaluate what it means to lead or where we are getting the “most nutrients”. It is important to recognize where women are already leading; however, the need for women in traditional leadership remains equally important.
It is imperative that more women have a seat at decision-making tables. Women can offer a unique selection of talent and experiences that are beneficial to any organization’s overall performance. Studies have shown, women rank highest in trustworthiness, service, mentorship as well as effective-speaking and negotiating. I truly believe diversifying the workforce, particularly with more women, will create spaces that accurately mirror our communities and ultimately generate more success.
How are you leading in your career/community?
I have had the opportunity to lead in my career in unique ways. As a Senior Talent Advisor, I am regularly responsible for project work that helps drive our business forward. Over the past three years, I have had the pleasure of serving as a Subject Matter Expert for our Talent Advisors at the American Red Cross. I have been able to support our full-service talent team (who recruit virtually from locations across the country). As a SME, I get to equip our recruiters with the knowledge that they need to work virtually with confidence and autonomy.
In 2017, I helped spearhead our Talent Management Volunteer Program for our Biomedical Unit. We developed this program to engage community members who aspired to use their human resource skills in a volunteer capacity. We believe that everyone’s time and talent can be used to make a difference in their communities.
I am also currently serving as a Talent Management Champion Team member. Our members are assigned project work that will help improve company culture and create development opportunities for our recruiting team. Currently, we are focusing on developing a culture that supports open and honest communication and information sharing across lines of business.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Organizations rely on all kinds of leaders and most do not have traditional authority or direct-reports. I would advise anyone that aspires to lead to first be mindful of their ability to serve and mentor. Find ways to leverage your position so that it creates a path to progress for you AND your teammates. Leading is powerful but doesn’t always require having a traditional leadership title.
What is the best way for someone to contact you?
I can be reached at Niki.Bratchette@redcross.org or via my LinkedIn profile. If you’d like to Volunteer or Donate Blood, please visit https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-role-finder.html or https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive
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 firstname.lastname@example.org