From Gratitude To Greatness: Nikole Reed’s Path To Leadership Success

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Offline Khan Ehsanul Hoque

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From Gratitude To Greatness: Nikole Reed’s Path To Leadership Success

Leadership may not always look like a destination, but it most certainly is a journey. It’s a journey paved by one’s ability to tap into one’s inner leader while inspiring others to do the same. It’s also a journey that requires one to lift as one climbs, and that’s precisely what Nikole Reed has done throughout her career. Reed is the regional vice president of INFINITI West, a division of the automotive company Nissan. With over two decades of leadership experience, Reed has learned the importance of cultivating a solid team in the workplace.

“You have to surround yourself on your team with people who can do great things with you. I can't do everything, and I had to learn to delegate. I had to learn how to hire the right people around me because I can't do everything, I can't make every decision, and I can't think of everything. And I think that's where people get in trouble sometimes. You get a lot more from your team when you involve them in the decision than if you just make it and give it to them. I like to get buy-in from my team because that aligns everyone, and sometimes they have great ideas. I don't have the best ideas about everything.”

While Reed has intentionally poured into her colleagues to ensure a healthy team structure, the same can be said about her relationships with the next generation of changemakers. When it comes to her relationships with her mentees, she makes it a priority to share her mistakes along the way so that they can learn from them. It’s one of the reasons why she’s so passionate about sharing her successes and losses.

“I wasn't always comfortable talking about myself in a forum like this, but I realize it's not talking about myself in a bad way. I tell my mentees that if they can learn from my mistakes and not make the ones I made, then I'll get something out of this. Everyone will make mistakes but don't make that one because I already did, and I will tell you how that will work out for you. I wish I had people to help guide me through some of that stuff.”

This may be considered a radical form of transparency for other executives, but for Reed, it’s directly rooted in humility. A simple scroll through the Detroit native’s resume reads like a catalog of achievements, positions, and more information that succinctly illustrates why she’s a trailblazer in the automotive industry. But for Reed, being as humble as she is successful is essential, a quality her family and friends have instilled in her.

“I wasn't given the same opportunities as other people and fought for everything I had, but it was important not to stomp on anyone along the way. At the end of the day, when all this is said and done, and it's time for me to go, I want people to say that I was a good person. Even as an executive, you can be a good person and empathetic to your team, and that's just who I am. I have a lot of great people in my life, my husband and some of my very closest friends; they wouldn't dare let me get that way and get a big head.”

As a Black woman executive in the corporate realm, obstacles are something that Reed is familiar with. So much so that they don’t bother her nearly as much because of the powerful tool equipped to her by her parents — gratitude.

“How I've always tackled things, even from a young age, is to let my work speak for itself. Whether that was in school or professionally, I know if I do my job and I do it well, no one can take that away from me. So you're going to face all these obstacles. People probably still doubt me but it took time to get there too. I'm not going to say it never used to bother me but It doesn’t bother me now but it didn't used to be that way. I think my parents have helped with that too, just the way they raised us, to always be thankful for things. They taught me to always remember that things can be taken away from you just as quickly as you get them. And life will do that to you. So be thankful for what you have. I start my day with meditation and with positive thoughts and just being thankful. I always have a moment of gratitude in the morning, a little meditation, and go into the day that way, thankful for what I have because I know I'm blessed. I know I'm blessed, but I also know I work for it.”

Khan Ehsanul Hoque

Daffodil International University