Theresa Reno Weber is President & CEO of Metro United Way in Louisville, Kentucky. She has held several important roles such as Senior Consultant for McKinsey & Company and Chief of Performance & Technology for Louisville Metro Government. She is a rock star in her data-based approach to organizational improvement and has a deep understanding about what it takes to build a successful team. We sat down in her office on a sunny day in Louisville to talk about her experience and how it’s shaped her approach to work and life. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation:
Top 3 skills she gained from consulting at McKinsey & Company
- How to look at a large problem and break it down into its component pieces, trusting that it’s going to unfold as you work through it.
- That there is no one right answer. There are a thousand ways to accomplish something, so speak with confidence. Do your homework, but don’t be paralyzed about finding the right answer because your best guess is as good as anyone else’s.
- How to translate complex information to people in a way that they can follow you and how to plan out clear communication beforehand.
Advice for other women who want to get into the field
- Go after the things that you’re passionate about because if you’re working in the areas that you’re passionate about, it’s not going to feel much like work and you’re going to naturally light up. When you’re shining, others will take note and provide opportunities for you.
- If you can’t get there immediately, try to carve out spaces where you can do it through volunteer work. If you find an outlet for things you like to do, people are going to take notice. Serving on a board is a great way to get connected and build relationships.
- Go in eyes wide open into agency management consulting. It is a very demanding pace and grueling schedule.
Advice for new leaders
- Read The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins.
- Don’t try to do things too quickly. Listen, observe, read dynamics, and how people perceive you and the organization. Assess if the organization is strong or unstable and sit with that knowledge for bit before acting.
- I’ve seen leaders make broad brush sweeping changes too early. They may be the right changes, but they happen too early and scare people. Understand the critical things that need to be addressed, but be as transparent as possible while being decisive.
The type of culture she wants to build at Metro United Way
- A safe space where people are excited to come to. We celebrate each other and lift each other up, not just here but with our partners as well.
- A place where everyone is working side-by-side together to accomplish the same, unified vision.
- To know and understand everyone’s contributions (including strengths and weaknesses) to that vision.
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