WriterGirl CEO Christy Pretzinger discusses her leadership journey

WriterGirl President & CEO Christy Pretzinger

I’ve been privileged to lead WriterGirl for about 15 years now, and it’s been a true awakening. I realize that the person I am now — the person I’ve become through leading WriterGirl — is very different from the person I was. If we let it, the act of leadership itself can be a true change-maker. I’ll explain.

Leaders are made, not born. We have the opportunity to make ourselves into leaders every day, through our behaviors and perhaps even more important, through our thoughts. When I look back five years, I see how different my thought patterns were back then compared to how they are now, and the effect that has on the business. I used to believe that I played a small part in the growth and culture of WriterGirl — a thought pattern that, in my experience, is more common for women entrepreneurs than for men. Perhaps this is because of cultural norms and the way we raise boys and girls. Who knows.

In any case, I no longer believe that. I can clearly see the leadership role I play and its importance in creating the culture and the business. And because I can see my role, I’m also able to see the important roles others play in the tapestry that is WriterGirl.

Be collaborative

For me, leadership is collaborative. As the saying goes, “if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room.”

While that statement is humble and vulnerable, it’s also imbued with quiet but sure confidence; by believing that, I don’t have to wear the mask of being the know-it-all, of having all the answers. That, in turn, allows others in the room to speak freely, share ideas, and participate fully in the growth and structure of the business.

Be vulnerable

Leadership is also a willingness to be vulnerable. As a leader, that can be scary, and in fact, not all that long ago I thought of vulnerability as weakness. Now I know that is the exact opposite of the truth. When I allow myself to be vulnerable, to acknowledge that we’re moving into new territories I’m not familiar with, to admit that sometimes it’s scary to be the ultimate decision-maker, my team can be vulnerable as well. And as Brene Brown says, “The only way to courage is through vulnerability.” I’ve found that to be true.

Be willing to grow

Leadership is about personal development. Years ago, when a coach told me that “WriterGirl is you, and it won’t grow until you do,” I felt like I could do the classic V-8 smack in the head. Until she said that to me, the obvious was not so obvious.

As I’ve shared before, after that input, I spent many months reading, and most of the books were on personal development that didn’t have anything directly to do with leadership or running a business. I didn’t read up on coaching, or irrefutable laws of leadership (an awesome book that I had read years prior) or even how to build or scale a business.

Instead, I read books like The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself and How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries. I read books that encouraged me to look inward, to meditate, to be still, to get into my body and out of my head. (The excellent coach who works with WriterGirl using the Enneagram tells us, “Remember, body time is slower than head time.” What a valuable lesson to learn!)

So while there’s much more to leadership than I’ve gone into here, these are three things that I’ve found to be true in my leadership journey. And the best part? The journey is just beginning!

Note: This blog was updated on Dec. 19, 2019.