In this leadership spotlight, we introduce you to Kim Hardy, Shareholder at Matthews, Cutrer & Lindsay, P.A. I had the pleasure of meeting Kim when we both participated in the 2013-14 class of our Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP). Kim had great passion for her in-firm project during the program, which was to pilot increased flexibility during busy season by eliminating mandatory Saturdays.

Kim has since been promoted to Shareholder in her firm where she has extensive audit experience in the areas of small business, 401K compliance, governmental and nonprofit organizations. She also continues to drive internal initiatives at MC&L as their partner responsible for HR and we are thrilled for her new role in leadership. We hope you enjoy her perspective:

ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
KH: I believe a leader should be relatable and have the ability to bring out the best in the individuals he or she is leading. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, was quoted stating, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” This quote speaks directly to my beliefs - leaders should lift others up and inspire greatness.

Sandberg also gave a commencement speech earlier this year at the University of California, Berkeley, where she showed great vulnerability. She shared with the students her experiences and feelings surrounding the loss of her husband. During the speech she stated, “It is the hard days – the times that challenge you to your very core – that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.” She gave examples throughout her speech of how she has been surviving since her loss. A leader that is willing to share vulnerable moments with others has the ability to relate to people on various levels. If a leader discovers what others are hoping to accomplish, he or she can be more effective in moving them toward a common goal.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
KH: Resilience and flexibility are important because all leaders will face some type of adversity. If there is no resistance to a leader, I believe that individual is not truly leading. If they are focused on making everyone happy or comfortable, they likely are not driving the changes needed to be competitive or to keep up with the market. There are constant changes in our workforce and in product/service development. A true leader must be willing to listen to insights from others and find ways to adapt the overall objectives to stay current in today’s markets.

ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
KH: I look for individuals who are willing to put in the effort necessary to obtain goals. I think up-and-coming leaders should have experience in areas that strike their interest and push their limits. They should strive to achieve desired goals in a way that takes them out of their comfort zones.

ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
KH: I try to encourage others to take on responsibilities they would not ordinarily do. Sometimes this involves gently pushing them away from places they are comfortable. I have struggled with this myself and I feel it’s my duty to encourage others to do the same.

ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
KH: I think future leaders should try to gain a good understanding of the firm’s current goals, business models, and processes before attempting to change. They also need to understand how any given change will impact other employees. Understanding these areas provides a great foundation to make positive improvements.

ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
KH: Resilient, democratic, and transformative.

I love that Kim shared her own personal challenge in being pushed outside of her comfort zone, and how that has now become a part of her leadership and development style today. She sees an opportunity to help others challenge themselves and grow and can also share her firsthand experience to further their journeys. We often know the things we like to do, but we can’t know what else we might like unless we challenge ourselves to try something new and to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” – a quote from the Stanford women’s soccer coaching team that we share with our TLP participants.

Kim’s answer to our question about what up-and-comers can do to develop their leadership skills translates throughout our entire career. We can always improve our skills, especially in leadership. Have you become too comfortable? How do you find ways to challenge yourself in your work? What other advice do you have for helping up-and-comers get out of their comfort zones? We’d love to hear your perspective!

Warm regards,