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At my best as an Enneagram 1, I value honesty above all else, I’m responsible and honor my commitments, and I am always working to improve myself. At my most unhealthy, I am rigid with my structure, resent those who don’t do it my way, and strive for perfection. 

 

So, as I have grown in my career and progressed into leadership roles, I’ve had to be mindful of my prominent traits, whether good or bad. I’ve had to actively put myself in others’ shoes, be flexible with my organization, and be mindful that just because it’s not my way in no way means it’s the wrong way. 

 

Here’s what I’ve learned about leadership through successes, as well as challenging times, in the past few years: 

 

  • Every team member needs different things: Each person on our team needs different resources to learn effectively, needs feedback differently, wants to be celebrated differently, and has a unique viewpoint on what success looks like. As I approach conversations – both good and hard ones – differently with each person I have the pleasure of leading, I take note of and bear in mind their distinctive needs whenever we talk. We have weekly one-on-ones and every single one of them looks different. It’s a lot to keep up with at times, but I believe, to be a strong, effective leader, I need to meet them where they are. 

 

  • Keep learning and growing: Each quarter, we are fortunate enough to have access to a professional development day. On those days, we can utilize resources that help us grow and learn. That could be attending a conference, listening to podcasts, watching masterminds or webinars, or reading a book. I spend those days learning as much as I can about leadership for the experts that have much more experience than I do in this area. One of my favorite books on the subject is “The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You,” by Julie Zhou. I’ve read it multiple times in the last year, and I’ve recommended it to SO many people. I love listening to Lead to Win with Michael Hyatt and Megan Hyatt Miller, Boss Files with Poppy Harlow, and HBR IdeaCast. I also love learning from Crosby Noricks with PR Couture. There is so much good information out there. I’m grateful for the time to soak it all in. 

 

  • Seek advice from those you admire: Similar to my above bullet on learning from experts, I also consult those in my life that I identify as strong, compassionate leaders. Sometimes that’s as simple as thinking about what I’ve enjoyed and what I’ve hated about leaders in my past. Other times, that is sitting down to coffee with former bosses or friends in leadership positions and troubleshooting or gathering their advice. 

 

  • Don’t forget where you came from: A decade into my career, I am still trying to put myself in the shoes of our interns and our entry-level, newly graduated employees. I try to remember what was stressful to me then, what was important to me personally and professionally, and what I didn’t know that I wish someone had told me. I never want to lose empathy or sight of who I was then. 

 

  • Lead by example: Last but certainly not least, I try to emulate the work ethic, work quality, and enthusiasm for our clients that I hope my team has, too.  I also try to cheer on those that I see doing the same. We need strong leaders to show us the way. I want those I am guiding to feel empowered and ready to lead when needed, even if it’s scary or new to them. I always try to celebrate leadership within our team.

 

I know I have so much more to learn about leadership. I welcome the challenges and the success ahead for me, personally, and our team. And, I can’t wait to hear your advice and lessons learned in leadership. Share them below!

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AUTHOR: Kerry Gardner
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