When you start out in your career, it’s all about you. You’re on a mission to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. You watch what great leaders around you are doing and try to emulate it. You’re trying to get ahead and continue moving upward on the path to achieve financial stability and compete at a higher level. You’re trying to prove yourself to both your peers and your superiors.
But there comes a point in your career when it’s no longer just about you. It’s about the team that surrounds you, and your focus shifts. You realize that how you are achieving goals is dependent on decisions being made by those around you—people you have spent time coaching and mentoring. This is an eye-opening adjustment for many, but it is also the time when great leaders will shine.
Whether you’re managing one team member, or three hundred, it’s important to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. You also must understand the strengths of your team members and be able to delegate important assignments. And, don’t forget to have a sense of humor.
In whatever role I’ve had in my career, I’ve tried to figure out what results I needed to achieve and tried to never lose sight of that ultimate goal. By focusing on results and doing a great job, you naturally stand out. The real key is taking the time to support the growth and development of those around you—motivating teams to excel and allowing them to experience the glory of success.
On Facing Challenges
Some of the most challenging times in my career were when I was asked to go outside my comfort zone and step into a role with which I was unfamiliar. For example, I was asked to take a sales role when I had no experience in sales. I had to remind myself that I was put in the role because people believed in me. I learned as much as possible, as quickly as possible, by asking questions, reading books, and staying up late. The hard work paid off, and it turned out I was quite successful at sales. The next time I was asked to take a cross-functional assignment, it wasn’t quite as difficult.
I have had roles in sales, marketing, sourcing, managing a small profit-and-loss division, and managing operations. While stressful at the time, I wouldn’t change one moment. I began to realize that my business acumen was flourishing due to these varied experiences. Today, I feel confident that I could talk with any executive about challenges in any department, and be able to bring an educated voice to the conversation. I also believe these experiences have made me a better chief information officer.