PODCAST: Finding a path to authentic leadership

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2020 by Nicole Fracasso

While some positions may have more influence than others, leadership is possible at every level of an organization, says Darci Congrove, CPA, managing director at GBQ. On a recent episode of The State of Business, Congrove discusses her career journey, the importance of growing your network, the traits she thinks young professionals need to have today to succeed and much more.

“Fundamentally, leadership has nothing to do with title or position or experience. We see leadership happen at every level of our organization on a regular basis,” she said.

Congrove, who has been at GBQ for more than 21 years, says one thing every leader needs is followers. If nobody’s following you in the direction you’re going, then you’re not leading, she says.

Outside of her professional career, Congrove also volunteers for multiple nonprofit organizations throughout Ohio. For example, she is involved with the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, volunteers with the Chamber of Commerce and was named a 2019 YWCA Woman of Achievement.

Congrove says receiving the recognition motivated her to keep going and continue contributing to the community. But the career highlights that bring her pride are the strong relationships she’s been able to develop with clients, and when she’s able to offer advice to her colleagues. For example, she recently received a note from one of her clients thanking her for the work she’s done with them over the past 20 years.

“I think the pride comes from lots of little things,” Congrove said.

Congrove also says that early on in their careers, people tend to be cautious about how much of themselves they bring to work, but one of the most important lessons she’s learned is that a leader needs to be authentic and transparent.

“I’ve gotten to a place where I’m unapologetically honest and authentic about almost everything,” she said. “And what I have found is that people really respond to that.”

Congrove also says she used to define success as getting to the next step, such as a promotion or a raise. But after working in both the profession and volunteering in nonprofit, she now emphasizes the importance of the relationships and connections she’s formed over time.

“I have figured out a way to integrate it all,” Congrove said. “I would say that’s my current definition of success, that I’m able to do the things I want to do.”

For more advice on the pathway to leadership, check out the podcast in full.

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