Last month, I reflected on a life lesson I learned from the great Dr. Maya Angelou. This month, as part two in the life lesson series, I’m reflecting on my recent interim leadership role. Having a view from the top of an organization serving 20,000 students, faculty and staff was enlightening and challenging.
During this time, I (re)affirmed the importance of three values.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
— James C. Humes, author and former presidential speechwriter
Across all levels, communication is one of the greatest assets we have in the workplace. It’s a free gift to empower, embrace and enlighten everyone. Yet ironically enough, we do not embrace this gift as we should.
The dialogic exchange should travel equally up and down, as well as back and forth between leadership and the team. Exchanges should be honest to ensure trust so that actions taken bring about meaningful outcomes. If communication is dishonest or fluctuates without a true centered compass (see next value), people are left confused.
There’s no better way to say this except – keep it real ya’ll. This includes everything from strategic planning to budget cuts. When prioritizing, ask if the DNA of the organization is front forward.
How will you know? Good question!
Look at your strategic core values and brand identity. If they are being upheld, bravo. Remain focused on what matters most to your target audience(s), which should align with the values and identity seamlessly.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence. And making it last in your absence.”
— Morgan Flatley, VP of Marketing for Gatorade
I love this leadership mindset. I credit Advertising Age for sharing Ms. Flatley’s inspiration in their Women to Watch 2014 issue. For Flatley, she credits a Harvard Business School professor she heard at a women’s leadership forum. It is my new mantra and one that carries retrospective and introspective value.
How does this relate to humbleness? Another good question!
If you put others first, you can’t help but to remain humble – right? When others are empowered, including leadership creating the strategy along with the team executing the strategy, all are elevated. When we are all elevated, dedication thrives and the workplace becomes a family working towards a common goal.
I would love to know your thoughts on what makes a good leader, based on your own experiences.