There are occasions at my job that I get excited about interviewing people. Last week I had one of those moments. I got the opportunity to sit down with Brig. Gen. Laura Richardson, as she prepared to bid farewell to the 1st Cavalry Division.
Before heading into the interview, I'll admit I had been on a bit of a "feminist kick," for lack of a better term. I'd been following the hype around Sheryl Sandberg's book, "Lean In." I even watched Sandberg on The Daily Show and was tempted to cheer along with the TV audience as she spoke about the stereotypes women face. She said little girls who show leadership skills at an early age are called bossy, while little boys are praised. I was definitely that little girl who was called bossy. My dad even used to read me the book, "Little Miss Bossy," as a precautionary tale.
So this is the girl power mindset in which I enter this interview with Richardson - the first woman to lead Operational Test Command, the first woman to be deputy commander of an Army division, and one of only 19 female generals in the Army.
And she seemed to take these things in stride. After speaking with Richardson, it's clear she doesn't see her accomplishments as I do - a great leap for women. She sees them as service to her country. Simply the next step in her Army career. Richardson said they put competent, confident people in jobs. That is what was expected of her as she arrived at 1st Cav, and that is what she gave.
This was my second opportunity to talk one-on-one with her, and each time I am blown away with the simple advice she gives for success at work. Essentially she says, be yourself, understand your role, focus on the job and perform to the best of your ability.
Now reflecting back, on the great leader she is and will continue to be in Afghanistan, I wish I could ask her one final question, "Was she also a little girl who was called bossy?"
Read the full article, Richardson reflects on time with 1st Cavalry Division.