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Be Ready To Pivot

Lessons learned navigating the complexity of leadership

Michele Bodda
Michele Bodda
Ready to pivot

When I was young, people would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I didn’t realize a one-word answer wouldn’t quite fit the bill. Did you?

As a female leader, the list of roles I fill each day has grown alongside my 20-plus-year career at Experian. Sure, my job title is president of housing, verification solutions and employer services. But the role I’m serving varies depending on which 30-minute interval you catch me in throughout the day.

On any given day, I am a strategist, negotiator, leader, client relations expert, or board member. In between, I am a mentor, therapist, mentee, and friend. In every moment, I am an ally, advocate, and a voice for those who need one. On top of all that, and, most importantly, I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, and a sister. Most days, I fill every single role at one point or another.

I’m guessing your story is similar.

As leaders, people need us to be different things at different times. We constantly pivot from one version of ourselves to another. Some days it works, and we feel as if we hit it out of the park, but this isn’t the case every day. We often put pressure on ourselves to make it look effortless.

Here’s the reality: it’s not effortless. According to Gallup, nearly eight in 10 employees experience burnout on the job sometimes. Acknowledging the challenges associated with the constant shuffling of roles and building the necessary muscle memory to navigate the pivots can help us prevent burnout and show up more effectively as leaders.

multiple roles

A wise mentor shared five strategies that have helped me navigate, and I thought today I would share them with you:

1. Plant seeds in advance: The more you can pre-empt situations before they occur, the easier they are to manage. Plant the seeds of where you want things to land days, weeks, or months in advance, so your organization and teams have time to absorb them, build on them and feel ownership over them. This strategy also will allow you to identify who your detractors may be so you can pre-empt their opposition as much as you can and prepare accordingly.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff: In our constant shifting of roles, it can be easy for everything to seem big and as if it requires your attention. Remember, most things, in the grand scheme of things, are small. Pause. Take a deep breath. Many things work themselves out on their own if we give them the space to do so. Instead, focus on the truly big things and on the long term.

3. Switch off: We can’t show up for our teams, for our businesses or for our families if we are depleted. “Self-care” is a term that’s thrown around often and sometimes is reduced to being encouraged to get a massage or see a movie. Those things are great — you should do them, but sometimes true self-care is about more than that. Sometimes you need to step away. Taking a walk, turning off my phone for a while, or listening to music are some of the most effective ways I’ve found to reset and show up as the best version of myself. When you’re truly overwhelmed, cancel the rest of your day and recognize you’re not going to be helpful to anyone in that state. Take the break.

4. Pick the moments you are ready to do things: This is one of the most helpful tips I’ve received as a leader, and the hardest to implement. Keep in mind that issues elevate to you for a reason. If you’ve empowered your team, then the things that get to you are the sticky issues that need focus, thought and authority to resolve. Give them the attention they deserve. If you’re not ready, take the time to get more information, think it through, or get advice.

5. Where you work and who you work with matters: For me, I want to work somewhere with purpose — where I can clearly see how the work my teams do is making people’s lives better. I want to work with smart, creative people who both support and challenge each other and are good humans. I’m thankful I built my career at a company that allows me to be in that environment and that recognizes diversity fuels innovation and expects everyone to bring their whole selves to work. We are recognized as a Best Workplace for Women by Fortune, a top company for women technologists by and a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. For the fourth year in a row, we were recently named as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. These recognitions are more than logos we can put on our website. They’re the result of the commitment and hard work of thousands of Experian leaders and employees who make it real. Think long and hard about what matters to you in how your company shows up in the world and find the place that fills those buckets for you.

If you can, I encourage you to pause for a minute today. Take a moment to acknowledge the roles you fill throughout your day. Doing so can be eye opening and a meaningful first step toward filling those roles more effectively — and more importantly, more deliberately.

Leadership is fun, challenging, and worth striving for if it’s part of your ambition because you can have a real impact on the lives of your team, your company, and customers. Being an effective leader takes continuous learning and personal development — embracing and enjoying that process is life changing.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine May 2023 issue.
Michele Bodda
Michele Bodda,

Michele Bodda is president of housing, verification solutions and employer services at Experian.

Published on
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