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In this episode, Heather speaks to Jennifer Fairweather, Chief Human Resources Officer at Jefferson County in Colorado about her leadership style, her drive to lead, and her struggles with facing conflicts head on while still showing care for her people and coworkers.
- Give people space to come up with their own ideas in a safe environment.
- Be a vulnerable leader who invites the team in to help overcome obstacles.
- You don’t have to do leadership alone.
- Continue to work on yourself, and fill yourself up first.
- Be honest with your people. They want to help you.
Jennifer Fairweather is currently the Director of Human Resources (CHRO) for Jefferson County, located in Golden Colorado. She is also an Affiliate Professor at Regis University where she facilitates undergraduate and graduate courses for the College of Business and Economics.
She has over 20 years of experience in both the public sector and the private sector human resources, in addition to operational management experience. Jennifer received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from CU Denver and a Master of Arts in Human Resources Development from Webster University. She also has her SHRM-SCP, IPMA-SCP and PHR professional certifications as well as a Certificate in Professional Training.
Jennifer has facilitated sessions on leadership and development for local and national forums. She also has written articles for newsletters and newspapers on various management and human resources topics. Jennifer is a Colorado native and enjoys gardening, cooking, traveling and spending time with her family (pets included!).
I originally started my career in the finance world during the 90’s. I was not really sure what I wanted to do, but I found myself in a leadership role on finance. What I had realized was I liked the leadership part, but I was not that passionate about finance. So, that is how I moved to HR in the finance industry, and turned into someone passionate about the people in leadership, and in employee engagement.
It has really been quite a wonderful journey moving through HR in finance, and moving into management HR roles where I could combine my passion for leadership with my passion for HR. In addition, I became passionate as well about the public sector once I moved into that world.
I discovered my drive to lead through different tools, and one of them is StrengthFinder.
A few years back when I checked, I found out that I am a maximizer and an includer. I’m really good at maximizing the potential of other people, as well as including people in so that they feel part of what is going on.
There’s a natural element of things I am good at, and my drive has always been the feeling you get when you see other people succeed. It’s the feeling you get when you see good things and good outcomes happen.
Even through high school, I have always enjoyed being in supportive roles, and watching the magic happen. I don’t need to be seen or staged, which I think is why human resources has been a great role for me. It is where I combine leadership with my strength in maximizing and including others, so my people would feel part of what is going on.
It’s amazing looking back at the people I have worked with. They did the work and I did not make it happen for them. To see my people flourish, grow, and move on with their careers, is a rewarding feeling. I am not taking full credit for it, but hopefully somewhere along the way, I had a piece in helping them get where they are. That is always a wonderful satisfaction.
There are days when you’re not in your A-game, but hopefully, you figure out a way to be resilient, to get back and to remember your passion.
I am a humble leader and I give my people space. I do not dictate or micromanage. I give people space to be creative in doing what they need to do, like coming up with ideas based on our vision.
I’m good at supporting people and recognizing their whole person. I know that they have things going on outside of work, which comes into work. In parallel, they have things going on at work that goes home.
One thing I do everyday is to just try to think back. At the end of the day, I express gratitude for the things that went well. In the same way, I also reflect on areas where I could have improved. Afterwards, I let them go and try to focus on tomorrow.
It’s good when I come looking back and I see more days where I have been grateful that I have fortitude to move forward and be more proactive in taking conflicts head on. It is important for your team to feel that you’re going to be willing to put yourself out there for them.
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