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Optimum Talks Blog

Carve Your Own Path: Leadership Strategies for Women in Business

by Optimum Talent
January 25, 2018

Jennifer Power is a Regional Director at Pembridge Insurance with a great personal success story. In the traditionally male dominated insurance industry, Jennifer has grown and flourished by faithfully living out her leadership values over the course of her career. Always a team player, she believes that every person adds value, and that can be seen by the strong relationships she has built with the people she has worked with over the years.

Jennifer was identified early on in her career as a woman with potential. Her work ethic and willingness to relocate led her away from the Maritimes to Toronto to enhance her skills and learn the business from the hub of the Canadian insurance industry. She quickly advanced through the ranks, primarily through hard work and saying yes to the challenging, yet stimulating, opportunities placed in front of her.

Here are some of the key leadership strategies that she’s employed throughout her career journey:


Change Management

Given the accelerating rate of change that exists within the business world, change management training is critical for leaders today. Change impacts everything we do within our organizations, and one of the most important things for leaders to grasp is the need to be involved on multiple levels. It is one thing to understand the changes and strategy from thirty-thousand feet, but it’s another thing to be able to implement it on the frontline and not leave anyone behind in the process.

Strategic Thinking

It’s critical to recruit and develop high performing leaders who also posses the capability to think strategically. In the past, we relied upon great performers to lead organizations, but in today’s business world performance alone is not enough.  There is a great need for innovation and transformation, so we must offer development opportunities for those who have that potential. One of the noticeable traits among some of the younger strata of employees is an aversion to risk-taking, and perhaps this is a generational thing. To combat this, businesses must create opportunities to develop their employees while at the same time allowing them to understand that failure happens and is a vital part of the learning process. These learnings will ultimately contribute to the employee’s own success, and the company’s as well.

Women In Leadership

Many women still face challenges when it comes to taking the necessary steps to advance their careers. Call it the Imposter Syndrome or a genuine sense of insecurity, women continue to struggle with recognizing and conveying their skills and accomplishments. One of the key steps to breaking through that barrier is to look for mentors and foster relationships with women who are where you want to be.  Women need to find their courage and voice so that they can fulfill their potential and be the best employee they can be. Furthermore, the value of building relationships with those you work with everyday cannot be underestimated. Focusing on relationships helps build the kind of network you need to be highly effective in the boardroom or on the frontline.

Work-Life Balance

An emphasis on work-life balance can be a competitive advantage to businesses as many Gen X and Gen Y employees find flexibility in the workplace very attractive. Although it is up to the individual to determine their own personal needs and strike their own balance, an employer can positively promote this through an innovative culture that responds to employee needs. The measurable results from healthy work-life balance are often higher productivity and better employee engagement, as employees can become more creative and efficient in their roles.

Business Development, Change & Innovation

While some employees shy away from posted results, business targets along with appropriate incentives are an effective way to assure that the company’s goals are being met. And while it may create discomfort for some employees, sometimes discomfort is necessary to ensure that employees remain engaged and motivated. Having said that, there is also a need to look at those targets and try to be innovative in ways to reach those goals. There is a need to examine the way we, as executives, like to do things and be willing to change our behaviours to ensure that they are responsive to what enables frontline employees to grow. Sometimes the change that supports these employees must be creative. For example, leaders could implement a “no meeting day” giving frontline employees the opportunity to strictly focus on their own work. These things are healthy signs that a company is creative and able to respond to the state of flux that we all operate in.

Jennifer Power is a well-respected leader in the insurance industry. She is frequently invited to sit on insurance and related industry expert panels to share her thought leadership and insight.  Jennifer’s latest endeavour entails focusing on leveraging the competencies of her team and leaders to create a highly engaged and successful business.

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