Women’s Leadership Symposium Connects, Empowers Future Leaders
By Tori Couch
Above Photo by Bruce Maxwell
The annual 360West Women’s Leadership Symposium celebrates the transformative power of women in the workplace and in their communities. Attendees have the chance to hear from industry experts, entrepreneurs, political leaders and C-suite executives while establishing new connections.
The 2023 symposium will be 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the PalmWood Event & Conference Center in Fort Worth. Visit the event’s website at 360womenlead.com for registration information. Simmons Bank is the presenting sponsor.
Lori Baldock, president of the Simmons Bank Fort Worth market since 2019, sat down with 360West magazine recently to talk about the symposium and discuss her thoughts on how to develop leadership skills. Baldock has worked more than 35 years in the banking industry and was a symposium panelist in 2021. The conversation is edited for brevity.
360West: How do you view your role as a leader?
Baldock: My job as a leader is to hire and develop talent. You don’t always have to go outside and hire. Recognize the strengths of the team members you have and continue to invest in their development. They know how to show up, they know what to do when they show up. Your job is to convey the vision, convey the goal and then get obstacles out of the way, so they can do what they do best.
360West: Why would you encourage women to attend the symposium?
Baldock: One of the greatest values and outcomes from attending the symposium is you can interact with and identify mentors while attending. You’ll take away words of advice, thought processes from different industry folks. You’re going to get exposure to things that you may not when you sit in your office with your team or when working from home. That exposure, that engagement, is huge.
360West: What makes a good mentor?
Baldock: A mentor is the person you’re going to engage with directly and personally who understands your goals. That mentor is someone you believe will be honest with you, who will spend time investing in you and getting to know you. The mentors that I’ve had have been very candid people.
360West: As Fort Worth grows, more leadership roles will emerge. How can women develop skills to take advantage of those opportunities?
Baldock: There are multiple programs through Leadership Fort Worth that target those new in their careers and later in their careers.
This continuum of leadership development is an opportunity that every company should engage with in some way. Simmons Bank has, and it’s been a great experience for our associates. I went through a leadership program years ago in another market. There are friendships you make, connections you make that can be lifelong. It’s a diverse group of people across not-for-profit, for-profit and governmental leaders. It’s a great way to root yourself. The Fort Worth Chamber, the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber and the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber are great organizations, too, because of the breadth of the membership and the programming they provide. As Fort Worth has grown, the roles of those organizations have grown too.
360West: Leadership skills can be developed outside of a work or professional development setting, too, right?
Baldock: That’s right. It’s really about engagement. I come back to the word “engagement.” We were at TCU recently engaging with the young women athletes who will be going into the workforce soon. They know how to be part of a team. They’re not all going to be the MVP, but they will all contribute. We’ve engaged with the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and their youth programming. Not everyone has acreage to raise an animal, but they might be on the robotics team that builds the agriculture equipment. They might be part of understanding ranch and land management. The discipline it takes for kids to raise animals is no different than you might see leading a basketball team.
360West: Why is it important for female leaders to find a balance between work and personal wellness?
Baldock: We’re used to multitasking. We tend to pile on ourselves. We say “self-care” and hear any number of speakers say, “Self-care is not selfish.” I agree completely. Yet that still doesn’t mean we do it. We do have to recognize sometimes less is more. That’s become a mantra for me recently. I have a perfectionist tendency. Part of wellness means taking a step back, taking a breather. If you run too fast, you burn out. Your team sees that. You’re not the best leader in that case. You must give freedom to your team, which means you must trust them.
360West: What advice would you give to recent college graduates who want to hold leadership positions?
Baldock: Take an internship somewhere, even if it’s not required by your degree plan. If you’ve been a leader in any capacity — you may not even know it, but you’ve done it along the way — be able to convey that as you start to go into the workforce. Don’t underestimate your value. Lots of women are shy to ask questions, shy to speak up. Engage with other leaders in the industry that you’re interested in going into. You might graduate college with a degree in “X” and work doing “Y.” That’s OK. The connections you can make with people who are willing to spend time investing in you, those are your early mentors.
360West: What if I have changed jobs several times during my career?
Baldock: People move around a lot more today than when I started my career. Two years here, two years there, that used to be a blemish on a resume. I don’t think of it that way anymore at all. If you’re progressive in what you’re doing and you can explain what you’re doing, I think you’re exposing yourself to lots of opportunities and maybe you are becoming more self-aware. I would not shy away from those opportunities. All of that is about growth. If you’re going to be leading, grow into that role. Even that natural-born leader is going to be challenged to lead through something they haven’t been exposed to. Leadership does require a certain amount of compassion and grit. You develop that in a lot of different ways.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Lori Baldock and are not endorsed by, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, Simmons Bank. Simmons Bank does not provide tax, accounting or legal advice.