It is our great pleasure to introduce Toni Henning as this month’s Emerging Leader. Toni leads with a ‘get it done’ personality and inspires others through her visible actions. Toni is an energetic and engaging professional; she enjoys building relationships and helping others do the same and even has her own professional development book in the works!
Name: Toni Henning
Current title: Global Strategic Technology Planning
Favorite leadership quote (optional):“You get what you tolerate.”
What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
My role within Chevron is one of influence leadership to a magnitude of global technical and business leaders. I engage colleagues across functions and across the globe. My biggest learning from this diverse collaborative role is the importance of relationship management. To truly connect with others, I need to know the individual – know what they value, recognize their experience, know how they operate and understand their preferred communication style – every individual is unique.
Early in role, I sent an email which caused a stir of conflict where I had four colleagues each react differently, in their own way. One person approached me in the hall with direct confrontation, one sent me a long questioning email, one called my boss and one was absolutely silent. This was excellent data about how best to engage each colleague in the future regarding tough topics.
You don’t have to create conflict to learn about your colleagues like in my example, but you must listen and authentically study others to have this relationship insight. Work on building healthy relationships first and you can then influence with success very quickly.
What is your leadership style?
I’ve been described by others as an action-oriented leader. I like to get things done, completed and crossed off the list. I become impatient at times when others cannot proceed as quickly as I might want but I have come to recognize this urgency for execution is my own expectation. I now practice patience and use my ‘get it done’ personality in the hope that I can inspire others through my visible actions.
“Serving on a nonprofit board has been a great way to develop and demonstrate leadership and decision making skills...”
What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I am President of National Association of Women MBAs – Houston Professional Chapter, an organization with the mission to empower and propel women into leadership positions. Serving on a nonprofit board has been a great way to develop and demonstrate leadership and decision making skills and the experience may prove beneficial for corporate board recruitment later in my career.
Reading books and blogs about leadership, communication and change management keep me in a continuous learning mode. When I find a book or article that resonates with me, I share within my network.
Most recently added to my development repertoire, is dedicated time for thought and reflection. Much can be gained by stopping to think, develop inference and acknowledge lessons learned. Given my ‘get up and go nature’ this pause and documentation of experience tidbits, means I have my own professional development book in the making – always there for reference later or to help develop others.
You attended the 14th Annual Women in Leadership Conference at Rice University in Houston, TX where Jo Miller presented the topic was Build Your Brand as a Rising Woman of Influence. What were your greatest takeaways from the session?
Jo Miller always delivers an exceptional program. She opened the session with the emerging leader’s quandary, “You can’t get a higher level job without leadership experience…but you can’t get the experience without the job.” As an emerging leader myself, I can appreciate this concept, and I agree with Jo that one must seek opportunities to demonstrate leadership before being ‘given permission’. It’s not a title that makes you a leader, it’s the ability to remember the big picture while you motivate and inspire others. This ability can be honed in every meeting and on every project. If you continually exhibit leadership without authority, over time you will be recognized as a leader, and the career success will follow.
Jo walked us through how to first develop a leadership brand and to then make that brand visible. She shared that leaders with outstanding careers are known for delivering results. In my career, I have observed that demonstrated performance is recognized, but you must know what’s valued to ensure results have measurable impact. Results mean planning turned to execution and delivery of tangible success which is valuable to your team, company and shareholders.
Want to reach out to Toni directly? Connect with her via LinkedIn.