I Moved into a Leadership Position in 2020 — Here’s How I Showed Up for My Team

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Photo Courtesy of Capital Group.

Photo Courtesy of Capital Group.

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In her 14-year career at Capital Group, Jennifer McDade has taken on many roles. In 2020, she decided to move into a leadership position. 

“I wanted to help people uncover their unique skills and inspire them to use the skills to positively impact the organization,” she recently told Fairygodboss. The move turned into a bigger challenge than anyone could have anticipated; as a pandemic, civil unrest, and a rapid switch to remote work and learning drastically transformed work and home life. 

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Capital Group has shown support through leadership mentor groups and ongoing conversations about what successful leadership looks like. Whether supporting her team or her family, the key is, “remembering that we’re all in this together.” In that spirit, McDade shared her strategy for learning to lead during turbulent times and carving out space for self-care. 

Tell us about your career journey with Capital Group.

I’ve been with Capital Group for 14 years and have worked in several roles, including Account Representative, Customer Service Specialist and Financial Coach. Currently I’m in a leadership position in the American Funds Shareholder Services department.

What made you consider transitioning into a leadership role?

There are so many aspects of leadership that appeal to me, but helping people succeed is what I’m most passionate about. I knew that leading a team would give me the opportunity to teach others how to drive their own success. I wanted to help people uncover their unique skills and inspire them to use those skills to positively impact the organization.

As a leader what are 2-3 things you do to show up for your team?

I find it most important to be present, supportive and authentic. To be a strong leader for my entire team, I need to understand where they need assistance so I can provide them with the tools to be successful. I also want my words to have weight, so it’s important to align my actions with my words and to be transparent with my messaging. 

What has the transition been like in 2020 Covid/Civil Unrest?  

By moving into a leadership role in 2020, I knew I was going to have some unique challenges ahead of me. One of those challenges was deciding how I was going to lead my team. I wanted to make authentic connections, foster relationships, build trust, and show empathy and presence in my interactions. This was a large task in and of itself. Having to do it in a virtual environment added to the challenge. Luckily, I work with an amazing management team who has been extremely supportive. We discuss best practices for leading in uncertain times and have conversations about what is working and what isn’t. Having that bond with my team has been paramount in my transition.  

Regarding civil unrest, Capital Group has provided transparent messaging about the company’s stance and what they are doing to make sure that associates of color are represented at all levels. It’s important for me to know I work for a company that takes this topic seriously and is taking steps to make sure that associates of color are given equal access to opportunities at all levels in the organization.

How has CG supported you during the transition and this year overall?

Capital Group understands that leading in this environment isn’t easy, which is why they’ve created leadership mentor groups. I’ve had one-on-one conversations with leaders at different levels in our organization to talk about my experiences thus far. I also have ongoing 1/1’s with my manager about what successful leadership looks like and how she can support me in my role.

How has Capital Group Associates of African Descent (CAAD) helped support you during civil unrest?

CAAD has hosted a series of open dialogue forums about the civil unrest in America. These conversations are open to all associates and are meant to be a safe space to speak openly about the topic. The opportunities to listen and share have been meaningful for me because they allow associates to be vulnerable and learn from each other. It’s a very supportive and educational environment, and the goal is to bring positive change to Capital Group and beyond.

What are some of the most meaningful conversations, events or benefits that have helped you cope with this year?

Capital Group has promoted a number of meaningful events this year, many of which focused on racial equity. We had Dr. Ibram X. Kendi as a guest speaker to discuss his book, “How To Be an Antiracist,” as well as Carla Harris, a senior executive with Morgan Stanley, who gave a presentation on the Power of Inclusion. In addition, Capital Group has held internal workshops, including culturally relevant wellness healing sessions for associates who identity as Black or African-American.

How are you managing being a full-time work-from-home mom? Do you have any tips related to your kids' ages and grades?

Being a full-time work-from-home mom definitely isn’t easy, and some days are better than others. I have four children ranging from fourth grade to eighth grade who are currently doing virtual learning. While this transition felt difficult for me, I knew that it was equally as difficult for my children. Remembering that we’re all in this together has been key to making this work. 

Something that I’ve focused on, is showing up for my kids just like I show up for my team at Capital Group. I listen to my kids’ needs and struggles so I can create a plan to help them. In addition, I’ve learned to ask for support from my family when I need it. If I know that a busy week is coming up, I let my family know so we can create a plan to support each other.

What are 2-3 things you specifically do for self-care?

Prayer is so important for my self-care and is one of the main things I do on a regular basis. Another thing is writing in my journal to recap the highlights, struggles and learning opportunities that each day brings. Lastly, I’ve started dedicating Wednesday nights to myself. I order dinner, do my hair and give myself a mani-pedi while listening to music or an audiobook. This has been a great way to unwind after a long day.


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