Lead(H)er Board Q&A: Courtney Jones

This week, we sat down with Lead(H)er Board member, Courtney Jones, AmeriCorps Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley and mom of a busy 16-month old. She shares her feelings on self-worth, community impact, and overcoming challenges.

1. When you were new to your career what was something you struggled with, or worried about, thinking it was unique to you, but later discovered is very common?

I was really afraid to ask questions and ask for help for fear that I would look incompetent in my position.  I later learned that MOST are fearful of asking questions and asking for help for the exact same reason. 

2.       As a young professional, in a role without much authority, what should you focus on to develop as a leader?

Speak up, be confident, share your ideas; however the key to doing these things is being aware of your audience.  

3.       Why is a mentor relationship important for growth?

It is important for growth because it gives you the opportunity to aspire to reach a potential that you respect.  Mentors challenge you, respect you, and encourage you;  without one you lose the support of someone who wants you to be better than themselves both personally and professionally. 

4.       What are the biggest challenges women face in the workplace?

Gender stereotypes-example when a woman is firm in her stance she comes off "bossy" or "inflexible" or even on the other end-women without children have more time on their hands and can "handle larger projects" vs. women who have children do not/can not.

5.       What are the biggest challenges young professionals face in the workplace?

Being taken seriously--take dress for example.  I have seen two types of young professionals, those who "dress the part" and those who do not; I have come to find that those who actually get dressed up for work are taken far more seriously than those who show up in jeans and a t-shirt despite a casual atmosphere.

6.       How can you make a difference in the community?  Why is that important to you?

I feel that I can make a difference in the community by contributing to causes that mean the most to me personally. When you are passionate about something you are typically able to make more of an impact.  I am passionate about helping women navigate their way professionally so that they will be successful and hopefully do the same for another.  

7.       Why are you passionate about Lead(H)er and its mission?

I love the fact that Lead(H)er empowers young women to lead in the Quad Cities.  Time and time again, I too have seen great talent leave this area for lack of a professional connection.  I have been fortunate enough to have people believe and invest in me professionally; I am honored to play even the smallest role in inspiring others to do the same for other women here in the Quad Cities.  

8.       Why is Lead(H)er uniquely positioned to make an impact in the Quad Cities?

I believe Lead(H)er is uniquely positioned to make an impact in the Quad Cities because it targets any and all women who simply want to be better; better for their employers, better for their communities, better for themselves. Truly, who does not want to be their best self?