As we emerge from a turbulent two years, I’ve been reflecting on what makes an effective leader, particularly when the road ahead isn’t clear. These reflections are especially timely during Women’s History Month, as we celebrate trailblazers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Amelia Earhart. These women not only persisted in the face of adversity, but they also created a path forward for all women to follow.
Despite huge strides forward, business leadership remains male-dominated in many industries. I’m grateful to be at Lucas Group, a Korn Ferry Company, where our leadership has been intentional about creating an inclusive environment, one where everyone has an opportunity to succeed and be recognized for their accomplishments. Last year, for example, our top two recruiters were both women. These inspirational women push me to be a better leader every day.
These are five things that have helped me continue to develop as a leader:
Promoting a culture of trust with my team. Since the pandemic started, I’ve encouraged our team to be open, honest, and candid about their individual circumstances and capacity. I check in with each team member frequently. When someone is facing a challenge at work or home, they can share what’s on their mind or let me know they’re having an “off day.” We’re all getting through this together, and that support is welcome on all levels.
Creating space for connection. Our team enjoys having time to catch up with each other on Friday mornings. Since we’re not in the office anymore, it’s nice to connect, talk, and see other faces. We also have lunch together once a month. If your team prefers to be more active, you could all meet for a walk outside, attend a ballgame, or even create a collaborative playlist where everyone contributes their favorite songs.
Building a support system. My mentors — friends, professional contacts, work colleagues — have shaped my career. I’m a product of years of advice and lessons learned, and I believe every professional needs this to thrive.Our accounting and finance leadership team at Lucas Group has always supported one another. It’s not an environment where people are afraid to speak up. We’ll routinely ask if anyone’s seen a particular problem, then work together to solve it. We celebrate a colleague’s success as if it were our own.
Taking pride in daily wins. At some point in our careers, our focus shifts from small wins to all the things we haven’t accomplished–– the marketing campaign that still needs work, the emails that still need replies or the department budget we need to finish. These last two years reminded me it’s time to reorient our sense of accomplishment to take greater pride in the daily things, both inside and outside the office.
Take pride in those daily wins. Give yourself kudos for taking an exercise class or finishing a book or having a successful bedtime routine with your kids. Take a bow for cooking a new meal over the weekend. These are real accomplishments.
Asking for advice. Nobody gets a ribbon for being a master of everything. There are certain times in life when you can — and should — ask for help. Most people want to assist, and they’ll be thrilled you sought their counsel.One piece of advice I’ve received: Don’t discount people whose paths you cross. You never know how someone might impact your life, no matter their level, title, or gender. That connection typically doesn’t happen in one conversation; it takes work to build relationships.
Career success often stems from who you know. If you’ve built strong relationships, those people are more likely to recommend you for future opportunities or suggest new projects you might enjoy. What goes around comes around. Give time and support to others — it will come back to you.
What’s a great piece of advice you received that’s helped you become a better leader?