26 September 2023

Empowering women in leadership

Start the conversation

Fairygodboss* shares advice from a manager who gets to empower future leaders and change lives.

Kerrie Williams did not have a banking background when she began her journey as a teller.

But that didn’t hold her back.

While she’s only been in the financial services industry for approximately five years, Williams has experienced exceptional growth.

Currently, she’s an assistant branch manager at PNC Financial Services Group, a role she’s been in since she was promoted from branch banker in 2021.

How did she advance so quickly? When we asked Williams for her advice to aspiring leaders, she told us:

“Speak up! Put yourself out there.

“Be uncomfortable.

“Take every opportunity to be seen and heard! You want everyone to know your name, and you want to be the obvious choice when opportunities open up.”

Williams moved into her leadership position with a very open mind, she tells us.

And she took every opportunity to learn along the way.

Her goal was to learn and be flexible, allowing her team to teach her how to be an effective leader for different personality types.

As an assistant branch manager, Williams shares that the nature of her work has also evolved alongside her career advancement.

“My day-to-day work has changed drastically, and I love every bit of it,” she says.

“Now, instead of focusing solely on my own growth and success, I find that my success comes from the success of my team.

“When my team wins, I feel so much pride in their accomplishments! It truly brings me joy every day to know my team is happy and thriving.”

Here, we caught up with Williams to learn more about her leadership strategy, style and more.

Read on for some career inspiration!

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would describe my leadership style as supportive and clear.

I set clear expectations for my team, but I also understand we are all human, with a million things happening around us all the time.

I work hard to be understanding, while also making sure my team knows there are certain things that are non-negotiable.

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing an individual or team that you think has been particularly effective?

One of my strategies has been helping my team feel empowered in their roles and encouraging them to boldly step into the opportunities they’re given.

A game changer in my banking career was the day I was able to confidently say, “I am a financial expert” and truly believe it!

We get to change lives, and that is an exciting feeling!

What’s the main thing you hope your direct reports are getting out of working with you?

I hope they are getting a sense of wanting more — that my leadership style makes them want to reach higher, aim bigger, never settle, and believe they can do even more.

A marker of my success as a leader would be seeing future leaders come from my team.

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing an individual (or team) that you think has been particularly effective?

A strategy I love to implement and find very helpful is role play.

It’s uncomfortable for everyone when they start out, but the more we practice our positioning statements and explore showing a client the value of a particular solution in a safe, learning space, the more comfortable it becomes in a real-life situation!

How do you make sure your direct reports feel supported in their personal and professional lives?

One-on-one time is key.

Every week my bank manager and I meet with our team members individually.

These meetings aren’t simply opportunities to go over reports and numbers, but to dig into what matters to the team.

What is important to them? What motivates them when they wake up in the morning?

We all have different “whys,” and understanding the “why” of each team member allows us to support them in their goals — both in their careers and outside of them.

Finally, what do you believe is the most important thing managers should do when onboarding a new employee?

I think it is really important to make new team members feel welcome and secure in their understanding of what is expected of them.

Giving them a tour, welcoming them with a little PNC gift, and spending one-on-one time that first day helps.

And always debrief at the close of the day! Asking new employees how they feel after the first day in a new job/position shows that we care about their experience.

*Fairygodboss is a job search site that can be used by anyone, but specialises in helping women find work in almost any industry.

This article first appeared at fairygodboss.com

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.