Four-Minute Leadership is a series of informative and inspiring interviews with Atlantic changemakers exploring business and leadership in the new economy, in four-minute reads. Our second conversation features Carrie Forbes, Chief Executive Officer of League Data. League Data provides information technology services and support to the 46 credit unions in 130 locations across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island.
What has 2020 taught you about leadership?
Carrie Forbes: 2020 is the year I became a CEO, in a pandemic, and with a major digital shift happening in our sector. I believe one of the greatest lessons taught to me was from one of my early female mentors who said, “the only constant here is change, so learning to adapt is your greatest strength”. That resonates even more strongly in 2020, and further tests my assumptions about this challenge.
What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?
C.F.: One of the biggest lessons for me is about assumptions. We hold lots of assumptions, but it’s only when we test them that we grow in our awareness and knowledge—and that makes us not only better listeners, but much better leaders.
What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?
C.F.: A key piece of advice I received early on was to evaluate how “married” I was to my path, and to be open to opportunities I hadn’t considered. I saw myself in a “role” rather than trying to find the joy and passion in what I was doing. That led me to learn about other skills and talents I didn’t know I had within myself, and that makes for a more enjoyable journey along the way.
Who shaped you the most as a leader?
C.F.: I credit my father with shaping me into the leader I am today. He held me accountable to some key things I value in life as well as leadership: honouring commitments; being honest and working with integrity; working hard and doing your best, even when no one is watching; being resilient to keep trying and not give up when things get tough; and above all, having empathy for those around us.
What advice would you give to emerging leaders?
C.F.: A lot of emerging leaders can feel solo on the journey. I encourage them to reach out and form communities to learn, network and find peers. It can feel competitive to develop our skills, but collaboration puts us in both a learning and a teaching role. I see this dynamic in strong mentoring relationships where the mentors learn as much or more than the people they are mentoring. Great leaders learn constantly and from everyone around them.
What’s the most unexpected thing about you?
C.F.: I have been described as “eclectic”, because I’m really interested in a lot of different things. Despite being in financial technology, I have a background in arts, and still enjoy creative pursuits. I also love yoga and just became a registered teacher.