Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Or: How Mr. Rogers won over the U.S. Senate and earned $20 million for PBS

AREVA CFO Kathy Williams was the featured speaker at the LAWiT luncheon held April 23.

AREVA CFO Kathy Williams was the featured speaker at the LAWiT luncheon held April 23.

More than 100 Lynchburg area professionals gathered at the Lynchburg Area Women in Technology (LAWiT) luncheon to hear AREVA CFO Kathy Williams talk about using emotional intelligence to succeed in fast-paced, high-stress, technology environments. “But it’s not just for work,” she told the group. “Emotional intelligence will serve you in all areas of your life.”

It’s curious to see an expert in what is typically a data-driven field show such awareness and passion for the “soft skills” associated with emotional intelligence. But Kathy is not your typical CFO. “A manager at one of my earlier financial positions sent me back to a Communications class three times over to take the Myers-Briggs personality test because my results weren’t what they were ‘supposed’ to be,” she explained with a laugh.

Kathy spoke to the LAWiT event attendees at the invitation of Elizabeth Narehood, Vice President of Technology for the Region 2000 Business and Economic Development Alliance. “The LAWiT luncheon is one of the ‘connector’ initiatives that we’ve put together focused on women who work for technical companies like AREVA, to provide networking and professional development opportunities,” said Elizabeth.

Over 100 people attended the LAWiT luncheon featuring AREVA CFO Kathy Williams’ presentation on “Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence” in Lynchburg, Va.

Kathy accepted so she could have the opportunity to provide some insight from her experience in corporate finance to the women (and men) in the audience. Studies have shown that people who demonstrate high emotional intelligence have greater mental health, exemplary job performance and stronger leadership skills. “Women are generally more adept at monitoring others’ feelings and emotional queues, and they shouldn’t be afraid to use this awareness to become better leaders,” Kathy said.

“It’s important for us to be strong women,” she continued, “and it’s also important for us to raise strong women.”

She went on to share her three attributes of strong women:

  • courage,
  • respect for yourself and others, and
  • always seeking to learn.

She gave practical advice on how to employ emotional intelligence both at work and at home with seven strategies to apply at the next opportunity to influence someone.

The topic came to life for the audience when she provided this historical, thought-provoking example:

“If your project needed $20 million in funding and you had to send someone to appear before the U.S. Senate to get it, would you choose former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, or the beloved children’s television show host Fred “Mr.” Rogers?

“Most people would choose Ballmer for his energy, experience closing big deals, and, more importantly, his aggressive go-getter style. Mr. Rogers, on the other hand, was mild-mannered, talked slowly, and was the epitome of the nice-guy approach. It’s easy to think his gift was communicating with children, not adults, and he had no place in the world of money, power, and influence. It’s easy to be mistaken. In 1969, Fred Rogers addressed the Senate for a mere six minutes and ensured $20 million in funding for PBS. How’d he do it? … with authenticity and emotional intelligence.”

Kathy concluded her message with these words of advice: “Be your authentic self. Don’t change your personality to meet a certain profile. How can you influence others if you aren’t ‘you’?”