Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Be who you want, not what you see

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As I approach the end of a 28-year career serving students and the people who love them each day, I reflect regularly on my journey, on the impact I have made and certainly on the impact others have had on me. When I was honored among the 2018 Most Influential Women by Springfield Business Journal, I talked about how I am aware more than ever of differences in people, whether male or female, in handling their emotions. My favorite advice always centers on emotional intelligence, having the ability for self-awareness and regulation. Those with a high emotional intelligence have empathy, and use social skills to influence and adjust outcomes. This attribute is the key to success, personally and professionally, no matter the circumstance. My message to women of all ages: Figure out how you want to be perceived, and be that person. Play the part until it becomes woven into the fabric of your daily life.

Honestly, not all women influencing me throughout my career have demonstrated behaviors I chose to emulate. We encounter people each day who carry with them insecurities that create barriers inhibiting the ability to build relationships – and inhibiting the ability to advance the work. These people mentor us; they teach us valuable lessons on behaviors to avoid.

I have been blessed to encounter incredible women in Springfield, women who serve as positive mentors for others. This year’s 20th class of Most Influential Women includes many of these positive mentors whom I consider friends; women who serve in powerful roles such as attorney, executive, founder, banker, legislator and professor. These are strong women with stories of their own, stories of good and bad experiences that have shaped them into the incredible women they have become. Congratulations to each of you, and thank you for the positive influence you impart to others in our wonderful community.

Carol Embree is the deputy superintendent of operations at Springfield Public Schools and a 2018 Most Influential Women honoree. She can be reached at


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