Wendy Collie shared her thoughts on leadership during a meeting of the Women’s Leadership Alliance yesterday.
The alliance is an invitation-only network for Portland-area women executives working for large businesses.
The group met yesterday at the Nines Hotel. Collie, the featured speaker, pulled stories from her career working for Starbucks, New Seasons and other companies to make a few points about women and leadership.
She said there are two types of young women leaders: those who know they are capable but don’t have a clear path to leadership, and those who don’t know they have the capability.
Collie, a first-generation college graduate, said as a young woman she fell into the latter category. “I didn’t know my own potential.” Creating more inclusive work environments requires identifying people early in their careers, she said.
She noted perennial challenges women facing women in management: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough and a tendency to strive for perfectionism — to a fault.
She also revealed the best leadership advice she ever received — from a Starbucks executive who told her she was wearing “too many hats” trying to be all things to all people.
‘Wear only one hat, Wendy,’ he said. It is such good advice. I am who I am.”
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Collie said she is fortunate to work for a progressive grocer but the industry at large is still dominated by men.
“The grocery industry has yet to catch up to the idea that talent is talent.”
There are more women than men on the New Seasons executive team, Colllie said.
“Not because I wanted them to be women; I was looking for talent.”
Collie spoke frankly about the challenges facing many New Seasons workers, and the importance of recognizing talent potential in every employee.
“We have a lot of people in the company who are struggling: with the cost of living, medical issues, divorce,” she said.
“I make a point of stopping and acknowledging their stories. Share of yourself; give people a seat at the table.”
The Women’s Leadership Alliance runs a mentorship program pairing senior level women mentors with mid-career professional women mentees who are already in a management role or have been identified for leadership development within their own organizations.