Melody Lenox is a strategic human resources leader at Axxess, where she’s in charge of global human resources strategy. With experience in retail, supply chain, health care and municipal government, she has been a leader in performance development, diversity, talent acquisition and organizational change. Lenox spoke at the 2021 Women in Business Summit.
How has the business world changed since the start of your career?
The world has truly changed a great deal. We’ve seen the decline of some industries and businesses because the world is always changing and evolving. We move towards making things easily accessible from anywhere in all aspects. Whether that be products on the cloud or apps on your phone, this has impacted almost every industry and brings on new opportunities and lessons.
How have you changed?
Regardless of the changes in the world, it is important to always develop transferable skills. Strategy for the business is always top of mind, as well as developing others in their role for growth. There is no comfort in the growth zone, and that’s why it’s important for us to look for these challenges, look for changes and embrace them as learning opportunities. I have learned that the role you take is the only thing you have control of.
What obstacles did you face?
As a woman, your agility is always under question. As businesses globalize with the help of technology and the virtual space, growth in business is exponential, adding yet, another layer of people to whom we have to prove ourselves to as women in business. We have to prove ourselves capable of working across teams, capable of leading global teams and simultaneously being a mother, a partner, etc. Getting the very credibility that we deserve from years of experience is a hurdle every time you meet someone new. Sometimes they’re as small as a handful of sand. Sometimes they feel like mountains. But I know how to climb.
Did any of the obstacles surprise you?
No … I think the world can be so unpredictable, that nothing is surprising anymore and yet it makes sense at the same time. Emotional intelligence has been very important to develop as a human resource professional and that has helped me almost empathize and leverage that understanding to move past a lot of obstacles that have presented themselves. It’s been helpful in leading around or over them, breaking them down, as opposed to being blocked.
What experiences, training or education best prepared you?
Every experience is an opportunity to learn and at the end of the day, it’s about the people, not the company that helps you grow. It is people who challenge me, inspire me and encourage me. Doing the same for others and fostering those relationships creates a loop effect, almost, that never stops giving.
What has helped you the most during your career?
I lead by example. You can only control the role you take, and I chose to be a leader. This is independent of any title I hold. And being strategic, staying positive and always taking a step back. It is more effective and efficient to look at a situation or business problem from different angles, perspectives, using context, etc., to make a decision. In turn, it can also enable you to be more proactive, as opposed to reactive, in the future.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Always welcome the opportunity to learn and build relationships. Only growth and empowerment can come from that.
What is the worst advice?
“Knowledge is power.” This was given without context. It is how you place that knowledge into action that empowers.
What do you wish you had known earlier?
I am appreciative of all the lessons I have learned. I don’t know that there is much I would change here because it would have an impact on my growth, I am sure.
What advice would you give to others?
You make the shift. Don’t let the shift make you. Always believe in yourself. If you don’t give yourself the confidence, no one else can.
What do you think the future holds for women in the business world?
Empowerment. We have an opportunity to inspire and be inspired. That is one of my biggest takeaways, day to day.
What book had the most impact on you and your career?
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown — the lesson of leadership requiring vulnerability, trust, values and resilience
What is the biggest mistake you see women making when advancing their careers?
Not speaking up is the biggest mistake. Constructive conversations foster an environment for opportunity. If you aren’t having those conversations, someone else is. You need a voice at the table, too.
What was one of the most interesting (or useful) things you learned this year?
This year, I have had the opportunity to work a lot with teams from all over the globe — in person!
Gaining global experience and exposure provides the ability to embrace new challenges and diversity. When we open our minds to global thinking, we gain new perspectives. You believe you understand that, until you have the opportunity to see it in action, going beyond the surface.
What’s a recurring hurdle for you? (time, money, attitude, location, knowledge, etc.) What strategies are you using to overcome that?
Time! Is there truly enough time in a day to accomplish everything I would like to? No … but that’s why it’s so important to nurture relationships. We only have one lifetime to do what we want to do, and no one can do it alone. No one can get it all done by themselves. It’s important to set yourself up with positive people, embrace your differences and play on your strengths.
Leadership is more than a title.
What’s your personal brand and how do you nurture it?
My values: Integrity, inclusiveness, humility and servant leadership. I have a strong set of principles that fuel my commitment to improving myself and those around me.
Local Profile‘s 21st annual Women in Business Summit will be held on September 30 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Click here for tickets.