The final spotlight blog leading up to our Changing the Conversation event on April 20th features Kristin Haffert, Co-Founder of Project Mine the Gap. Kristin offers great insight into how she manages expectations and sets boundaries to thrive in leadership roles.
Describe a challenge that you’ve overcome in your career.
It took me a while to learn that I shouldn’t try to make everything perfect all of the time. I have thrived in positions where I often felt that I was in over my head. And because I felt as though I was in a leadership position I might not deserve yet, I felt even more that everything I did needed to be perfect. It was how I could prove my worth and my talent. I believe in the phrase that perfect can be the enemy of the good. And I live by it now!
In a leadership role, it is important to keep things moving, delegate tasks, give feedback and move items off of your desk. I realized that leadership often requires making decisions at a pace that might not feel comfortable, but that it is better than not making a decision. Leaders are inevitably going to make bad decisions sometimes. It is inevitable. We can’t always make the right call and we can add tremendous pressure on ourselves by trying. We must also remember the value of learning from errors, which can’t happen if everything is perfect all of the time.
What is a piece of advice that you wish you could give your former self?
Create boundaries for yourself that give you balance. If you take time for yourself or with friends, it rejuvenates you in a way that you can’t possibly muster without these important pauses. Understand where you get a release – whether its running, in the woods or alone in contemplation - and schedule that time for yourself. For some people, it is important that this becomes part of a daily routine. Often the happiest and most grounded people I’ve known have had both clear boundaries and a routine for maintaining their sanity. For some this is getting up and having quiet time with coffee in the morning. I had a mentor who would take a 26-mile bike ride each day. We need to know what gives us clarity and recharges our engine.
We can’t lose sight of this, even though in our busiest of times, it can be hard to maintain our ideal routine. And this is where boundaries come in. Just like “good fences make good neighbors,” good boundaries make for good employees, managers, and leaders. It is important to know when to say no. Women especially can have a hard time saying no and take on too much, which comes at a personal cost. With healthy boundaries – that we can decipher by listening to ourselves – we will be able to maintain mental and emotional rejuvenation. And this is how we can bring our best selves to work and every other aspect of our lives.
What fires you up re: diversity and inclusion? Why is this a passion?
I knew from an early age that if more women were in leadership positions, decisions in every sector would be better. When I was in college in the late 90’s, I learned that women weren’t included in clinical trials by the NIH for heart disease medication. This was a turning point for me because I knew that if women had been in enough senior level decision-making positions at the NIH at the time, that this would be impossible. And now what gets me excited is to think about a world where women not only assume positions of power, but where public policy, business and even countries benefit from the input of women and men which is very different and complementary. The workplace is expanding to foster an appreciation for both male and female leadership styles. This comprises part of our work at Project Mine the Gap. We are supporting organizations that understand the value in shifting culture to engage the full potential of women and men, and are excited about its impact on productivity, profit and a healthier work environment where all can thrive.