I love leading teams. It is a passion for me to help others achieve goals that seemed like pipe dreams. There’s no greater reward for me than to helping people grow up and out.
Over the past 20+ years of my career, I have had outstanding opportunities and had great leaders take big chances on me. My desire is to give back 10 fold to those who poured (and still do) into me so that their legacy grows. In my current position, I am an individual contributor. No team to lead. No operational responsibility. No chances to take. It seems disconnected from my true love, and in some ways it is. But I don’t look at it like that.
I have been here before. Like any great team or coach, experience matters. I have been in positions with little perceived leadership influence twice. During these times, I find that I always develop a new skill. In my first individual assignment, I worked in a call center and conducted training. 6 years after that assignment I was running a call center and a team of 40+ people. If I had not had the experience, I would have struggled with the daily operations. In my second assignment, I worked as a financial analyst. I learned to lead up and the reality of how healthcare finance really works. These have proven very valuable as I have progressed through the ranks in healthcare and higher education. I am currently developing and implementing policy at an institutional level, as an individual contributor. I am learning to ask the right questions, tell stories (vs. giving boring presentations) and how to navigate very strange political waters.
I find that while my pride sometimes reminds me that I am not actively leading a team, by keeping the right perspective, I am able to get past that and use this opportunity to develop a new set of skills and thus preparing me for my next opportunity. If I do not develop new skills, then this is wasted time and will lead to a life mediocre – which is not acceptable and goes against my life manifesto.
If you’re not happy with where you are today, use the time to prepare for tomorrow. Thus you’re leading where you are by being an example of integrity and by being visionary in you thinking and approach.
What can you do today that will prepare you for tomorrow’s leadership challenges?