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  • Kelly Ferneau

Be Your Authentic Self

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

When I started my career in nuclear power, I saw that most of the leaders had a similar style. They were directive and demanding. This was not my normal style and I wondered if I would fit in? Would I be able to advance? Also, as I advanced in my career, I was very conscious of ensuring that I did not have emotional reactions to situations. I didn’t want to be labeled as an emotional female and I also knew that if I wanted people to bring issues to me, I needed to ensure that I didn't reactive negatively. I continued on my path and received feedback that I was not passionate enough. What this really meant is that I didn’t show passion the same way that others who preceded me had. I was really appreciative of this feedback as it allowed me to look at how I was getting my message across and also to evaluate how my message was received. What I learned is that you need to stay true to yourself. You need to remain authentic. People will know if you are putting on a show to create emotion or to initiate action or change. In order to be effective, you need to be authentic. You need to figure out how to get your message across. You can state how you are feeling, you can use powerful words without raising your voice. You do not need to conform to an old way of communicating. When I first became Plant Manager, I received words of encouragement from other women. There were a few that let me know that they worried that they would never advance in their career without changing their way of leading. They thought that you had to be directive and demanding. They had considered leaving nuclear power because they thought that they would not fit in.

During this program, I was able to spend time reflecting on what my core values are. This work has allowed me to really identify my authentic self and understand why I react the way I do (what core value is being impacted). This insight allows me to understand why I am reacting and with that knowledge, I can check and adjust to ensure my message is getting across in a powerful and authentic way. Being part of this NEXT program allowed me to interact with many female leaders who are all successful and all have different leadership styles. This is proof positive that there is room at the table for many leadership styles as long as you are true to your authentic self. Nuclear Power is an amazing industry that has room for all types of leaders. You do not need to conform to some perceived expected style. You just need to be your authentic self. Take feedback in and check and adjust to ensure that you are getting the messages out that you want. Nuclear Power is stronger with many diverse styles of leadership.

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