RSS Lessons from the Past, Part II

I hope that you enjoyed my comments in Part I of this two-part post and that you will find this concluding episode equally beneficial. I’m excited to complete my list of the top-ten lessons that I’ve learned throughout my working-career. For me, it’s a bit cathartic because I get a chance to summarize and reinforce those teachable moments I have experienced that have had a profound impact on my professional development. 

 Again, please keep in mind that some of these lessons came at a time when I was much younger and less enlightened, so don’t hold it against me! Here are the top-five lessons I have learned.

 Number Five: Walk with purpose, but tread lightly. 
This lesson became a reality for me following many years of observing leadership characteristics demonstrated by 20 percent of the workforce that seemed to create 80 percent of the organizational value. Over time I discovered that the majority of individuals who were effective leaders actually walked with a heightened sense of focus or dedicated purpose. Yet even with this slightly quickened-step, these leaders made others feel comfortable, leaving little or no wake behind as they navigated through the workplace. On the other hand, leaders who were loud and brash could also be effective, but the wake they left behind as they moved from one place to another appeared to create a sense of distraction and disorientation in team members. I still observe these differing styles of leadership today and my experience leads me to believe that the best leaders are constantly on the move but they do not leave large wakes behind them.

 Number Four: Keep your door open. 
Having open doors means we’re open to new possibilities. New possibilities invite innovative thinking. Innovation leads to new realities and quite possibly, improved outcomes. I learned this lesson from my father when I was working for him in the order-editing department of the company he managed. His management style was one of openness through being accessible and available, even when he may have had other more pressing priorities. Regardless of whether we are in positions of leadership, this is an important life-lesson to learn. 

 Number Three: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
This saying is a bit colloquial, however it has never been a more important truism than it is today, especially after the last few years of economic turbulence. I became aware of this lesson of personal sacrifice and shared fairness when a former supervisor passed on a portion of their bonus-incentive to their team members in order to reward them for their extraordinary efforts. A team is not a team without a leader who understands that fair is fair. 

 Number Two: Exercise your mind constantly.  
This is all about life-long learning and the importance of taking personal initiative to improve “you.”  It wasn’t until I really invested a significant amount of personal time into my professional growth that my career began to take-off. Take it from me, personal initiative and constantly working to expand your knowledge helps!

 Number One: Listen more and talk less, MUCH less. 
Yes, it’s the same lesson that I listed for number ten in Part l of this article, but I can’t reinforce it enough. As employees, we need to listen empathetically to the coaching we receive. Don’t take the words as criticism. Take them as inspiration to become all you can be. And you leaders out there, don’t talk just to assert control over your team members. Help them discover their own path to success by guiding them to the various resources you think they need to fulfill their own personal dreams. It is so important for employees to listen to gain understanding and it is equally important that supervisors communicate with the intent of educating, encouraging and inspiring their team members. Think about it this way, harmony doesn’t exist if there is a bunch of background noise. To me, too much talking is like too much noise, it clutters the work environment and can lead to unintended consequences.

 All right readers, now it’s your turn to respond! I look forward to reading about the lessons you have learned in your working-careers.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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