Lead(h)er Board Q&A: Laura Sivertsen

Laura Sivertsen spends her days at Deere & Company where she manages recruiting and staffing for North America...a big job! Somehow, she finds time to lend her talents to Lead(H)er. We are grateful for all she has to lend, including these thoughts about leadership, mentors, and community involvement.

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 noticed very early on that people I worked for saw me in a similar light as their children (frequently, I was the same age as their children!) and treated me as such - much more like a parent/child relationship vs. a manager/employee.  

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

Don't apologize when asking for something - information, support for an idea, etc.  Act like you are worth the other person's time and they will respect you from the very beginning.

3. Why is a mentor relationship important for growth?

Mentoring is extremely critical for growth because it provides a safe place to ask questions and get advice without having to worry about how those questions are perceived.  Another aspect of an effective and healthy mentoring relationship is for the mentor to provide very honest feedback and have it be accepted and considered in a very positive way.

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

One of the biggest challenges women face is feeling that they have to be perceived as "nice" in order to be thought of as doing a good job.  I don't think that men have that same obstacle.  When we talk about women's strengths we tend to say things like "She has a good personality" or "She's a pleasure to work with" vs. "She's very knowledgeable" or "She is a hard worker and gets things done".

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

Young professionals right now have to battle the stereotype that comes with being labeled as a "Millennial".  Whether it it true/accurate for a person doesn't matter - it's a perception that can be hard to change.

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

I am from the Quad Cities (Moline) and have lived here nearly all of my life.  When I think about all of the things the community offered me as I was growing up here, I want to make sure others have access to those same opportunities.  I have chosen to get involved in organizations and programs that I have experienced with throughout my life - the YMCA and Junior Achievement for example - as well as others that align to my personal values and passions - this is where Lead(H)er comes in!

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

See above!  Women have so many thing to offer both in the companies where they work as well as in the organizations where they choose to give their time.   Lead(H)er is all about giving young women an opportunity to make connections and utilize their many talents to succeed both at work and in the community.

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

There is no other organization like Lead(H)er - it provides intentional connections for young women to experienced leaders in the community as well as connections with other young women in a peer group type setting.