Grounded leadership is what any good leader strives toward, but it’s something that takes intention and self-exploration to achieve. Linda Valdez Thompson, 4word board member and Certified Strengths Coach from Gallup, discusses “playing to your strengths” in leadership and how you can identify those strengths within yourself.
You can listen to this conversation with Linda on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.
How would you define grounded leadership?
From my perspective, a grounded leader is someone who has a firm foundation that is built primarily on their faith. They are resilient when they face challenges. They’re not easily distracted by what’s going on, but stay focused on their purpose and their mission. Two metaphors in the Bible come to mind. One metaphor from Psalms talks about trees planted by the waters that prosper in due season. The second metaphor in Matthew talks about the man who built his house upon the rock, and when the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, it didn’t fall because it had been founded on the rock. So I think a grounded leader has a firm foundation in faith.
Would you say that you’ve been good at “playing to your strengths” as a leader?
Over time, I’ve definitely gotten better at utilizing my strengths. Early in my career, I was advancing very quickly and was a very successful vice president early in my thirties. But as a young Latina in a mostly male environment, who had come from humble beginnings (my family and I were migrant workers), I felt many times like an imposter, a fake, someone who didn’t really belong there. Then I was introduced to strengths and I really had a change in mindset and began to focus on what I did have and not on what I didn’t have. I began to realize that I was uniquely gifted with some innate talents that God had given me, and that helped me really to gain confidence in who I was as a leader. This new mindset was a huge shift for me, and it’s what really helped me through my career, to the point where I had an executive vice president role, reporting to a CEO, and felt very comfortable with my colleagues and my peers primarily because I knew I was unique and talented and had strengths.
But I also realized that those around me had innate talents and skills, too, and by recognizing my own abilities, I was able to appreciate my colleagues’ abilities even more. Strengths have been a really factor in terms of helping me shift my mind towards what I have and how to focus on that.
Is there a right or wrong way to identify your strengths as a leader?
There’s not really a right or a wrong way to do it! How do you know you have a talent? Your talent will be something you enjoy doing, that you didn’t really have to learn—you just innately know how to do it. People may tell you that you’re really gifted with something. You may also find yourself thinking about the theme that really motivates you each day. You get great satisfaction when you’re playing to your strength. Your talents are innate and God-given, and what you do with them is up to you. As you begin to define your personal strengths, you will find there are many clues out there for you to let you know what might be a talent for you.
Linda is an accomplished executive with extensive experience in leading global private and public sector organizations. After a 20+ year successful career at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport as an executive vice president and at Fortune 500 companies such as Levi Strauss, Baxter, and Hasbro, Linda consults with clients in the areas of Leadership Development & Training, Human Resources, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Linda is located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Linda has a Masters in Organizational Management and a Bachelors of Business Administration and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Diversity Professional/Advanced Practitioner from Cornell University. She holds other credentials such as Board Certified Coach, Certified Strengths Coach from Gallup, Certified Career Coach, and Emotional Intelligence EQi Certification.
Linda has received several distinctionsduring her career. Most recently she was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal with the Leaders in Diversity, Lifetime Achievement award and the Diversity Leadership Award by the North Texas Commission. She also received the 2021 Latina Living Legend Award from the Dallas Hispanic 100.
Linda is active in the community having served on various boards such as the United Way Tarrant County, American Heart Association, and currently serves on the 4word Board of Directors.