Written by Adriana Bankston
A Personal Perspective
This time last year, I was embarking on what would be my greatest adventure yet as the third CEO of JSPG. This has been a great opportunity to make a difference in something that I’m really passionate about, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. On the flip side, being a first time CEO, nothing could have prepared me for all the aspects of this role. In some ways, you have to be doing the job itself in order to understand what it takes to do it, while you are also learning on your feet as a new leader.
I have to admit that, a year ago, while I craved the challenge, deep down I was unsure if I could do it well. But I believe that if something is a bit scary but you know it’s good for you, you should say yes and figure out how to do it later. I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Most immediately after taking on the role, I felt a sense of responsibility to do a good job and continue the path placed before me by those I looked up to. But I realized that this was my opportunity to make a mark, and that I should reflect on what I wanted my legacy to be.
Leadership in itself is a privilege, and provides the opportunity to significantly impact the lives of those you work with, mentor, train and interact with. Realizing that everyone looks to you for direction is both incredibly exciting and daunting at the same time. During this time, I reflected on how I could build a positive environment for those in my supervision at the journal. There is a balance of driving towards a common vision, while understanding why others would choose to follow you and their motivations to stay.
Looking back, I gained some really valuable insights about myself as a leader through this experience. I still spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a good leader and how that aligns with my own values and with those of the organization. By way of wrapping up this introduction, personally I have felt that being a female CEO comes with its own challenges to overcome as women are still underrepresented in leadership roles. I hope to inspire young women who may be thinking about these roles to put their name forward.
This past year in many ways has felt like climbing a mountain, leaving the unknown behind and looking over new horizons for opportunities. But also, this has been very much going between peaks and valleys with ups and downs. I wanted to impart a few lessons learned:
One thing I wish I had done as a leader is to seek out additional mentors early on, or join a leadership peer group to learn more about how to drive change. Overtime, I have sought to educate myself on leadership through articles, books and other programs, while also recognizing that working on your leadership skills is a life-long learning process.
Today, I couldn’t be more proud of what JSPG has accomplished as an organization, and I thank all those who have believed in my abilities to lead when I didn’t believe in myself. I’ve certainly gained more confidence in myself through this role and I am a much stronger leader than I was a year ago. I hope that I’ve made our boards and advisors proud this year, and I’m looking forward to the future. Read the second post for more!