This weekend I took a day trip to Cork. The train from Dublin was about 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was well worth the trip, and I got to see a lot. I went to the Marina Market, the Cork Public Museum/Fitzgerald Park, University College Cork, Elizabeth Fort, and the English Market. While I cannot believe there are only 2 weeks left, I am beyond grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far.
This week’s blog post focuses on our journey as leaders. My leadership style has always focused on open communication and discussion. While I think it is important as a leader to be able to move with confidence, it is extremely important to actively listen to the people on your team. I believe making people feel heard is the best way to show that you are invested in the well being of the team. Moreover, if you rush through things without being receptive to feedback you might actually make the wrong decision. Understanding all perspectives at hand can lead to the most effective and efficient solution.
My time abroad has solidified this approach to leadership for me. Working with large client groups often requires several project managers. This means that everyone has to communicate with the team to ensure that everything runs smoothly. If one person were to work alone or simply distribute instructions, tasks would become more time consuming. For as much as our main director leads, they are actively involved in all projects and always making a point to check in with team members.
Therefore, working abroad has emphasized that a leader should keep track of things and serve as a guide. A leader does not need to take control of every situation. The main focal point is utilizing team member’s skills to the fullest and being a resource as needed. Further, leaders should take initiative and bring energy to the team. For example, acknowledging how hard the team is working. This goes a long way to keep people motivated. It is a small action that shows projects are not going unnoticed.
Whenever I finish a day of work, one of my senior colleagues will always say “thank you for all of your work today”. It is a great reminder of the power of a single statement. This consistently brings a positive outlook to my presence in the office. Another way leaders can support their team is by having non-work related conversations. My colleagues took a genuine interest in my trip to Cork and even offered suggestions. After the weekend, they asked me how my trip was and we talked about how their weekends went as well. These conversations allow team members to be their full selves at work. It strengthens the balance of not being 100% work oriented at the office.
I am becoming a better leader during my time by interacting with all of my senior co-workers. Seeing the way our director leads inspires me. I learn a lot from how they manage stressful programs of 3,000 clients and handle challenges without translating stress to other conversations. Despite the high level of involvement required for larger groups, they still go out of their way to chat during lunch. This is another takeaway that being a leader is not just being an expert in your industry. It is about how you can leverage your experience and who you are as a person. When a leader can combine knowledge with a willingness to bolster their team members, they are at their strongest.
I am not a senior employee by any means, but I can still take ownership of my work. This is my own version of leading at the office by taking full accountability for my tasks. The work I complete needs to be ready to use. As a result, it is on me to ask questions when working on a task and write down the specifics of what I need to do. When I finish an assignment I am proactive. I ask my supervisor what I can do next or talk to someone else on our team to see what they need. This has furthered my ability to take initiative and be open to feedback from others.
Investing the right amount of time into a project and knowing when to switch gears also relates to this. I need to assess the quality of my work and then decide if I can take on something new.
My path as a leader is ongoing, but I know these last two weeks will only continue my growth.