For eight years Kay Kuenker was the only woman on the executive team at Dow AgroSciences.
That experience has taught her much about how women and men can work together in the agribusiness executive suite. Today, Kuenker works as consultant with her own company, K2Kinetics. At the recent Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she shared a collection of insights for women who aspire to leadership roles.
For starters, Kuenker says it’s critical that we lead from the inside-out. That means leaders have to know how to get the best out of themselves before they can help others reach peak performance. In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Kuenker explains why leaders need to be self-aware, confident, act with integrity, and be authentic – simply be themselves. Story continues after the interview.
Based on her experience, Kuenker believes two of the greatest challenges women face in leadership roles are confidence and communication. She notes that women often tend to beat themselves up after making tough decisions. “We ruminate relentlessly on the woulda, coulda, shoulda done it differently and we could learn from our male counterparts who say: ‘crap happens, let’s move on.'”
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Kuenker also believes it was important for her not to dwell on the fact that she was the only woman in the boardroom. That allowed her to maintain what she calls the right level of attention density. “We get what we put our focus on,” she explains. “If I dwell on being the only female and that consumes my energy and mental focus – that’s not good.” It’s much better to invest that energy in finding ways to make a positive impact, communicating effectively and acting on your values.