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'To do more, ask more,' women execs advise

Friday, September 30, 2016  
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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Rachel Chiappetta of Mars Petcare, Alison Midili Smith of Publix and Pam Stewart of Coca-Cola brought insights to the NEW Academy supersession at NEW Summit.

Thought-provoking questions can inspire others -- and yourself -- to think more creatively, be more engaged and take action, according to a panel of women executives at the NEW Leadership Academy supersession held during the NEW Leadership Summit, Sept. 30, in Orlando.

Rachel Chiappetta, grocery sales director of Mars Petcare, Mars Inc.; Publix Super Markets' Alison Midili Smith, vice president, talent and organizational development; and The Coca-Cola Company's Pam Stewart, vice president, national retail sales, shared advice for examining your career goals during the "What Successful Leaders Ask Themselves (and Others)" panel discussion. Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., moderated the session.

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"If you ask yourself 'Why?' enough times, you'll either get a complete and concise answer, or you'll drive yourself insane," Miller said. She urged attendees to instead concentrate on forward-looking questions – such as "What can I learn from this?" -- which engage and motivate.

"Observe yourself, the questions you ask yourself, and the questions you ask others," Miller added.

For Chiappetta, the question "Do I want to be the best 'in' the team, or do I want to be the best 'for' the team?" -- suggested by an early-career mentor -- provided a lasting lesson in leadership.

The right questions invite collaboration, too. "Asking 'What's your recommendation?' is important, humbling and enabling," Stewart advised.

Self-assessment can encourage growth and a sense of well-being, according to Smith, who asks herself, "What did I do today to make a positive difference?"

Questioning leadership

"If you don't know why you do what you do, it's going to be hard to inspire people," Chiappetta said.

When faced with a difficult situation, Stewart looks for the lesson, asking herself, "What is here to teach me?"

Invest in your team to make the most of it, the leaders advised. Smith recommends asking your team members, "What is it that I expect of each of you and what will I give you in return?"

Stewart likes to ask, "How can I be of service to best enable your success?"

Embrace growth and open-mindedness if you want to lead effectively. "Bring a curious mindset," Miller said. "It can affect performance even more than hard work."

"Remember, just because you have a seat at the executive table doesn't mean you have all the answers," Chiappetta said.

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