Women in Banking Conference Reactions: Intentionality

Living with intentionality means being deliberate and purposeful. Finding a purpose is key to driving work forward in a fulfilling and rewarding way. Growing as a leader means growing one’s leadership presence through intentionality.

Session three of Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Empowering Women in Banking Conference – Building Your Leadership Presence Through Intentionality by Laura Mael- unearthed the essence of the opportunity presented by intentionality. The seminar aims to provide a framework for adjusting habits and self-beliefs to achieve better results and stand out as a leader.

Laura Mael uses a three-legged stool of emotional intelligence, the right tools, processes, strategies, and a support network to approach her life with intentionality. Each leg is essential for the process to work.

Emotional intelligence

Being self-aware, controlling one’s emotions, and being comfortable in expressing those emotions is essentially what emotional intelligence is all about. The tools, processes, and strategies that follow help us be emotionally intelligent in the ways we handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

The tools, processes, and strategies to succeed with intentionality

Identity vs. role

How do you describe yourself? Your concept of yourself, your self-worth, and your ego combine to form an identity. The roles we have are the parts we play – mother, friend, community leader, etc.

Scientifically, we should associate our success with our understanding of self and how we’re most happy, whereas society establishes measuring sticks that lie outside of that science. 


Understanding oneself leads us to intentionality, and one of the widely accepted methods of understanding is the DISC approach to analytical psychology. People tend to fall into one specific category of personality.

  • Dominant
  • Influencer
  • Steady relator
  • Compliant

These buckets are a scientific calculation between critical attributes. Are you introverted or extroverted? Are you people-oriented, or are you task-oriented? Using a graph, people can chart and, most importantly, understand how they work and how their peers work.

The key takeaway from this segment was that if the conversation is essential to you, adapting to the other person’s communication style is key to accomplishing your goals. Do not think about fairness or unfairness in adapting. In the end, it gets you what you want faster.

Upfront contracts

In an upfront contract, there are five components established at the outset of a Discussion:

  • Time – set it and stick to it.
  • Purpose – what’s the reason for meeting today?
  • Agenda: ours – what I want to accomplish.
  • Agenda: theirs – what everyone else wants to achieve.
  • Outcome – what do we need to come out of the meeting.

An upfront contract sets the table for a Discussion or meeting. Having actionable outcomes and productivity coming out of meetings is critical for achieving more success for individuals and organizations. It makes the time feel more valuable and leaves participants feeling more accomplished.

Support network

Developing a solid support network is not about gathering up the usual suspects – mentors, friends, family – it’s about having close connections with peers that reflect your values. To build the right network of support, focus on who and what you want to be, then evaluate your network for the people who reflect who you want to be in your work.

It’s important to aspire to be the people you work for and network with. Be strategic when building your network.


Ami Myrland, SVP and Chief Financial Officer of Capitol Bank remarked, “as a leader, it’s important to understand that your presence and identity is more than just your role in an organization. Your leadership presence is also derived from your identity as a person (who you are outside of work) and how you cultivate both of these things through your values, communication, and connections.”

“Being a successful leader requires a higher level of self-understanding and emotional intelligence to be able to navigate relationships with the various types of people you will come into contact with. Being intentional in what you do each day to develop your relationships, connections and to enhance your personal brand is an important part of growing in a leadership role.”

Lerdahl’s Laurie Richards made a note about the value of Upfront Contracts. She remarked, “an outline of the time, purpose, agenda (yours & theirs) and outcome expected is a helpful approach to efficient internal meetings, client meetings, and even uncomfortable conversations when needed as it establishes expectations and a framework for the discussion.”

“My other takeaway would be keeping in mind the ‘DISC’ tool to determine personality styles. This helps decode how to communicate with people in a way that they are comfortable.”

This concludes Lerdahl’s coverage of the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Empowering Women in Banking Conference. Thank you for reading and contemplating the excellent content produced by the WBA.

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