For 25 years I’ve helped people find success and happiness because for years I couldn’t. Throughout my 20’s I worked for micro-managers in fear-based cultures and experienced more than one incident of sexual harassment.
A dramatic meltdown forced me into a month-long hiatus. It was time I learned to manage my career instead of leaving it up to fate. As I figured things out, I attracted others looking for similar answers and soon had a side job as a career coach in addition to a new career in public relations and marketing.
Helping others on a bigger stage
While in Raleigh, NC visiting a friend, I was skimming the want ads (it was the 90’s) and saw a position for Assistant Director of Career Services at a top B-School. I didn’t meet all the qualifications but knew with every fiber of my being that I had to get this job.
I got the job and spent the next 7 years coaching and teaching MBA students on finding their passion and standing out in the job market. I also consulted organizations on successfully attracting candidates who’d love their culture, add value and help them grow.
People want to matter
This experience taught me that companies don’t always deliver on what they sell in job interviews and presentations. Alumni shared story after story of ideas ignored and potential suppressed. They’d left B-school energized and ready to fuel growth and innovation. Their experiences left them disillusioned and hoping not all companies were the same.
Applying lessons learned
By the time I was recruited for an executive role with an education company, I knew what the team needed from me to be successful. Based on our results, I did a lot of things right. People were staying and being promoted in record numbers and they knew they mattered. Managing up for resources and advocacy required learning some new skills and tools.
These days I coach and train leaders on how to build high performing teams and manage up for the support they need to succeed. Some are happy and successful and work in cultures where employee engagement is more than a hollow concept. But too many struggle in ways echoed in the stories of my disillusioned grads.
Do people leave their managers or their jobs?
It’s said that people leave their managers, not their jobs. It’s true but it’s more complicated than that. Even the very best leaders have limited impact when under managers who are directive, disconnected and pushing out initiatives that aren’t helpful.
Traits of leaders and cultures that inspire greatness.
I’ve worked on all sides and here’s what I’ve learned about leadership and culture:
- Be true to how you portray yourself or people will leave you.
- Be passionate about creating an environment where people are successful and happy. If it doesn’t feel good, they’ll leave.
- Equip new leaders with the skills to do their new job as successfully as the one that got them promoted.
- Coach, don’t direct.
- Ask questions instead of giving answers. People know more than they realize and it’s a leader’s job to help them see that.
- Be curious. Don’t judge or show your irritation. You’ll learn a lot more.
- Be as committed to giving people what they need to be successful as you were on the day you made the job offer.
- Remember that every person has something unique to bring and the leader’s role is to bring that out.
- As yourself if how you lead is stifling the creativity, passion and drive of those working for you.
- Stop rolling out initiatives without assessing their impact or why the last one didn’t deliver.
- Don’t hire great people and then tell them what to do. (I know – you’ve heard this one but can’t say it enough!)
I help leaders and teams find their confidence and courage and achieve more. If you could benefit from what I’ve learned and the tools and strategies I share, you can reach me at Cheryl@StevensLeadership.com or visit my website at StevensLeadership.com.