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Talking working with women in leadership with Kedren Crosby, President at Work Wisdom LLC

About Kedren Crosby

Kedren Crosby, 51, brought more than two decades of experience as a business executive to Work Wisdom, of which she has been president since 2015. She also serves as adjunct graduate school faculty at Elizabethtown College and has written and presented extensively on numerous issues, including burnout, work-life integration and communication best practices.

Crosby has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kutztown University, a master’s in policy science from the University of Maryland, graduate level certificates in nonprofit studies from Johns Hopkins University and in conflict resolution from Notre Dame, and has completed graduate coursework in 0rganizational behavior at Harvard University.

She and her wife, Sarah Colantonio, live in Lancaster Township. They have two children – Therese, 19, and Tommy, 20 – and two dogs, Gracie and Lacey.

Q: Having focused on burnout and work-life integration in your work, what methods do you prescribe to women in leadership to help them maintain balance?

A: It’s important to be a single, authentic version of yourself, and that sounds simple, but making sure you’re the same version of yourself in all facets of your life can make it much less difficult to navigate all the streams a woman might be in throughout a day. Once one understands deeply what their values are they can show up in any facet of their life and live into that value. It makes one feel lighter and clearer on what their purpose is. You can feel more energized and that your work is more meaningful in the workplace, and maybe also at home or in your volunteer life. In addition, it’s important to have some sort of practice where you are meditating or in solitude or journaling or doing some sort of reflective practice for at least 20 minutes a day. That really fuels you so you can have the creativity and even the endurance to get through rest of your day. 

Q: What is the most interesting thing you have learned while working with women in business?

A: One thing I have found interesting is that assertiveness is a lever for success. Constructive assertiveness ends up being a lever for increased self-regard, confidence, well-being, profitability and performance. I’ve realized (this) is very key for women and so I will help give them some tools around how to be more constructively assertive so it becomes a lever for other high-performing parts of their lives. 

There’s something called orthopraxy, which is this idea of living yourself into a new way of thinking rather than thinking yourself into a new way of living. With many of the women business owners with whom I work, I’ve found it interesting that they really need to embrace this orthopraxy. A concrete example might be they really need to start paying themselves not just a livable wage but a wage that makes them feel valued in order to get them to think of themselves as valuable. You have to pay yourself first so you start to believe you are worthy of this wage. 

Q: How do you define authentic communication, and how can executives achieve this with their teams?

A: It’s the artful practice of communicating with others so you can optimize creativity, performance and engagement. Authentic means it’s honest and it builds trust. It doesn’t always mean it’s nice, but it might be kind. I thought about all the communication practices I’d been keeping in this folder — we called it the “ratty yellow folder” because it was so old — that had the practices that fostered trust-building, this kind of honest conversation that built psychological safety in teams. What we ended up doing was going through the ratty yellow folder and pulling out 20 practices we thought were most helpful for teams in building these kind of cultures. Some are very simple, some are more complex, but really it depends on your team. 

Q: What is your go-to for a midday pick-me-up?

A: I would say 10 minutes of silence, whether it’s sitting alone — I have a comfy chair in my office — writing in a journal, flipping through a magazine, meditating. For me, because I’m a very high introvert but also a business owner, the way to re-fuel quickly is just solitude. 

The other thing that is a huge pick-me-up for me is, I like to send cards. Maybe it’s a thank you note or an “atta girl” kind of card. In our office we have a room with lots of beautiful stationery and cardstock. That always makes me feel better. Hopefully it picks somebody else up!

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