I first felt like a leader when I was much younger and not yet in any sort of official leadership role. I worked alongside colleagues who would ask me questions on how to handle difficult customer situations; sometimes they would even ask me to intervene and assist.
Over time, I believe I earned the respect of those who worked alongside me. They saw that I am always willing to do what is needed to support my team and my clients. They also saw that I was understanding and even encouraging when mistakes were made. I believe the greatest progress and learning happens when mistakes are made.
I remember when we were still a part of the PiP Printing Franchise system, we were strictly retail. I felt that since we had larger business accounts, we needed to go and meet them where they were: offices, businesses, coffee shops, etc. This was not a practice that was endorsed by PiP corporate, but it was a vision of what I knew we needed to do in order to grow. I began stepping out of my comfort zone and making appointments to meet with clients. This started our outside sales efforts. Today, Holmes is known for our personalization and attention to detail. I believe this was one of those defining moments for our brand.
But not all of my leadership moments have resulted in such positive results.
At the time when we were transitioning from just a printer to a marketing company, we had to share the vision of where we knew the company needed to go. The greatest challenge of this transition was getting our team on board and working together to make the shift.
Now, instead of just functioning as a contributor, we needed the team to create ideas and increase our communication so we could bring value to our clients as a marketing partner for their business.
In hindsight, I feel a more authoritative characteristic and strategy would have been beneficial in making the transition quicker and smoother. I learned from this experience that change is difficult regardless of when or where it takes place.
In my life, the two largest impacts on my leadership style have been Simon Sinek and my sister, Carisa. When I heard Simon Sinek speak for the first time, his words and approach to effective leadership is something I had never heard before. Since that time, I have transitioned my leadership style to mirror his. Additionally, I have always admired my sister and her ability to connect with people. I feel she embodies genuine and sincere emotional intelligence.
I typically lean toward the visionary and democratic style of leadership. One of the key things I have learned over the years is that it is impossible to only be one type of leader all the time. You must be able to adapt to the situation, team member, and client.
I see myself constantly learning and trying to improve from the day before. As new generations enter the workforce, they demand and require leadership styles that can adjust. Working environments must be a place that people feel comfortable and are empowered to do their best work.
While I know my journey is far from over, I have learned the true key to leadership is humility. If you want people to see and believe in your vision, they must be able to speak openly and honestly without worry or concern.
Be true and honest with yourself. Never compromise on your values and your integrity. Make the best decision with the information you have at the moment you have it and own the consequences (whether good or bad) that come with that decision.
As a leader, it is always better to make a decision than to do nothing.