I believe the path to leadership is created one step at a time. Along my path, I have realized my learning and professional growth is attributable far more to the mistakes I’ve made and less to the successes I’ve achieved. This is an important lesson for those who aspire to leadership; you must be willing to take (calculated) risks and learn from failure in order to strengthen your probabilities for greater levels of success.
I built a recruitment/outsourcing business that I sold after 20 years and then joined Kelly Services five years ago. As I reflect on my career and the path I chose to senior leadership, I am very grateful to a handful of key mentors who served as my champions – and challengers – and enhanced my success along the way.
My mentors have been the role models, coaches, and critics who provided me opportunities to stretch my capabilities to advance to each level of leadership. It’s because of their influence that I take mentoring others so seriously, and invest a tremendous amount of time and energy to help others grow, personally and professionally.
As a leader, you must be very passionate about your work and about mentoring others and challenging individuals and teams to strive for excellence. To have a positive impact on others, you must learn to deliver constructive feedback and be willing to have the tough conversations that lead to awareness, acceptance, and positive change in others. I trust I have mastered these skills along the way.
Leaders also accept responsibility for modeling the behaviors they expect from their team. You must be fair, honest, empathic, genuine, professional, and committed. You also should be humble when occasions arise that call for this behavior; don’t feel the need to take credit. Instead, allow others to be recognized. Be satisfied taking a backseat when celebrating success. I’ve learned to be a great listener, and to build strong and collaborative relationships with individuals at all levels of the organization. These relationships have had a direct impact on my growth and success as a leader.
Many individuals I have mentored over the years have grown into leadership roles themselves, and have shared with me that my influence on their career path was significant. For me, this is the greatest measure of my success as a leader: to impact others in being the very best they can be.