Ann Layton new york life insurance: Isn’t it draining? Any female leader who has bravely endured unjust treatment battled valiantly for her peers and achieved professional achievement is an excellent candidate to answer that question. And most people would probably agree that, sure, it may be a lengthy, exhausting road to celebrate little successes, accept setbacks, and move on.
Being able to speak with Lou Ann Layton, global head of broker relations and marketing at Beazley Group, a specialized insurer and Lloyd’s underwriter, was excellent for this reason. Lou Ann claims that after spending years attempting to win every conflict, she eventually learned to “choose her moments” and “select her words” in order to take on the issues that really mattered and create a personal brand that “leads from the center.”
Pick your fights wisely
Lou Ann was often the sole female in the meeting room, at the conference table, or at the client dinner, much like many other women who started their careers in the 1980s and 1990s. Although she gives thanks to a highly encouraging senior leader who sponsored and mentored her for new prospects, she discovered that other male executives were always watching her.
I felt that I had to work more harder than my male contemporaries, offer more outcomes, and achieve accomplishments of a higher size, says Lou Ann. In addition, despite her efforts, she was not included in the men’s chats since she was a young, unmarried woman.
She came up with the following solution: “I subscribed to Sports Illustrated and The New York Times so I could chat with them and discover things we had in common. I also studied everything written about my customers, which helped me become a lot better communicator and listener.
Lou Ann’s mind was full of information, but her efforts to be heard at the table were unsuccessful because the men either disregarded her ideas or took credit for them in order to gain favor with their peers.
Lou Ann replies, “If a male accepted my concept, I’d find a way to say, “That is a terrific idea, I’m delighted you agree with me. ” This is how I learned to selectively choose the correct locations to defend my stance, rather than fighting every injustice. And, to further develop the concept, I would add this. As long as I was taken seriously, gaining recognition was unimportant to me.
Carefully craft your argument
When Lou Ann was the lone voice for women in the workplace, the maxim “carefully choose – and position – your fights” also came into its own. Lou Ann says, “I felt obligated to stand out for women at work, but I soon discovered the guys in the room were tuning me out and they assumed I just had one lens focused on assisting women. So I stopped assaulting everything and started picking my battles. I also started to focus the conversation on the diversity of experiences and equity for people from all backgrounds rather than simply gender.
However, Lou Ann was selective when she criticized gender inequality. For instance, she was unable to remain mute at a conference when many guys referred to their female coworkers as “ladies with sharp elbows.” Lou Ann explains, “I questioned the group as to what the remark meant and why no one referred to self-assured guys in the same manner.” Our boss said, “We will not use that language again to describe women,” after one guy attempted to defend himself and dug himself a deeper hole.
Create your brand by taking the middle path
Lou Ann is quite forward about the fact that she learned these things the hard way. When she was given a senior leadership position, she also made a conscious effort to transform her personal brand.
Lou Ann says, “I learned the idea of ‘leading from the center.’ Of course, no one piece of advice rings true for all women. “Men often define women in one of two ways: We are too soft for leadership jobs, or we are too bossy (or the other ‘b’ word). So I progressively changed my brand to be viewed as harsh but fair and eager to demonstrate my emotional intelligence, thereby better balancing the two extremes of the spectrum.
Lou Ann even acknowledges that she first opposed job coach suggestions to change her brand so that people would like her. “I never felt I had to be ‘liked,’ and I always thought I needed a strong edge in business. I wanted to be taken seriously. This coach, however, told me that because of my “all-business style,” people didn’t like me since they didn’t know me.
The coach advised Lou Ann to choose three items that she felt comfortable expressing with others in her everyday encounters in order to correct the issue. “I began to be more vulnerable and allow my staff gets to know me, and I could see these connections improve.”
Lou Ann advises women not to allow their enthusiasm to turn into emotion while developing their brand. Some guys truly mean, “She’s overly emotional and isn’t open to alternative views,” when they remark, “She’s extremely enthusiastic about something. Be passionate, but watch out for getting too worked up about things.
Concentrate on what matters most
Lou Ann concludes by saying, “A lot of women still believe that working hard will lead to recognition and promotion. When they run into difficulties and feel that they aren’t being heard, they quit their job. She acknowledges leaving a position that had turned into a guys’ club. I said, “Yes, but I don’t want to anymore,” even though my CEO said I was excellent at managing such circumstances.
She recalls the exhausting cycle of always outperforming her competitors and reflects, “One of the things I learnt a bit late in my career was that you had to find out what the business and your supervisor appreciate most. Then, fulfill both what you value and those promises. People will follow you if you are a real leader who is taken seriously.
Even the most tenacious leaders will eventually confess to feeling worn out by never-ending obstacles. However, astute individuals, like Lou Ann, have discovered how to choose their conflicts wisely and develop their own brands in order to achieve harmony and prosperity in the middle ground.
Visit home.kpmg/mindthegap to read more motivational tales from female financial services executives.
Information about Lou Ann Layton
Lou Ann is the Global Head of Broker Relations and Marketing at the Beazley Group, a specialty insurer and member of the Lloyd’s market that offers customers the best underwriting and claims service available anywhere in the globe. Lou Ann is based in Atlanta, Georgia. When Lou Ann joined Marsh as a director and officers practice leader in 1987, she had already started her insurance career as a management liability lines underwriter. From there, she transitioned to broking. She worked with Marsh for more than 30 years, most recently serving as Head of the Southeast Region, where she was in charge of client projects, new business, and people development. Lou Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbus, Ohio’s Otterbein University.