I have been very fortunate throughout my career to work for companies that have believed in the possibilities of their employees. What these companies had in common was that they created environments that encouraged and supported professional and personal development. You were allowed to try new things, fail, learn, and succeed. Most importantly, though, within each of these companies were a few select people who believed in me, encouraged me, and quite honestly, gave me a chance. I try to do the same.
In examining the behaviors of the leaders who helped me, I use three concepts to guide how I lead, and I always share these concepts as expectations of people I work with:
- INSPIRE PARTNERS (EMPLOYEES) TO EXCEED their personal best. I always encourage each person to competeonly with themselves. If each day she tries to be better than the day before, then she has been successful.
- DEVELOP FUTURE LEADERS. At the end of the day, this is what it is all about—people. People always come first. Be truthful, be genuine, and be direct.
- MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN EVERY PERSON’S DAY. Every interaction is an opportunity regardless of its seeming importance. You never know when a kind word or encouragement will be a life long memory for someone else. Make it a positive memory.
I believe that what truly makes a great leader is the ability to be genuine in whatever you are doing. I am fortunate in that I love what I do, so my values and my behaviors are consistent whether I am at home or at work. I often advise women to focus less on the next position they want and more on loving the position they currently have. Staying focused and truly engaged in what you are doing will prepare you for the next position. As long as I love what I do, and believe that I am making a difference in a position that keeps the possibilities open, then the title doesn’t really matter.
The most important advice I can give (but the most challenging) is: keep focused on the relationships you build. Have the courage to keep your family and friends as priorities. As I reflect upon my life, really it is not the numbers I remember, is the people, the relationships.