I’ve been in many leadership positions starting with my career in the Navy. I’ve experienced great and horrible bosses, and there have been times when I’ve been either a great boss, or a not so great boss.
My Leadership Story: U.S Navy Veteran to Leadership Coach
It’s 1981 and a shy, high school drop-out, small-town Cindy is looking for a job. The job market wasn’t great, so I joined the Navy. Wow! That was a huge decision, and indeed changed my life.
The Navy was an amazing place to learn and grow, especially in your youth. The seasoned leaders spend most of their time teaching younger leaders how to be a good sailor and leader. I became a solid leader and was recommended for officer school. I decided to get out and go to college.
Leadership Lesson: With Guidance and Support, You Can Thrive as a Leader
After many hard years of working and going to college I graduated with a Master’s in English. I taught English for a while, but could never seem to get a full-time offer. I met a mentor who believed in me and helped me secure employment as a trainer/Instructional Designer.
Leadership Lesson: Opportunities Present themselves if you are Open
Over time, hard work and a “can do” (Navy) attitude increased my responsibility and I was soon in a management position in Human Resources. I was asked to lie on official documents by a senior Vice President. Terrified, I declined. I did not lose my job, but I did not get any more promotions.
Leadership Lesson: Integrity is Sometimes All you Have
Later in my career as a senior leader, during an especially stressful time, I failed. I was devastated to learn that I was so focused on my stress, my department deliverables, my projects, and my initiatives I was not focusing on my team. They were uncertain, flailing and unfocused. At the time, I thought I was doing a fine job. In reality, I was far from fine. Because I was focused internally, I was not able to perceive, hear or sense that something was wrong with them.
Leadership Lesson: Building Trust and Empowering People IS Your Focus
Working in an organization that was made up of silos, I felt isolated, embattled and bitter. I was so absorbed with willing my initiatives to be implemented, I completely ignored the needs of my team, my colleagues and myself.
Leadership Lesson: Professional and Personal Networks are Powerful Tools for Feedback and Alliances
These experiences have formed my unique perspective on being a leader, and being a leadership coach.
Here are the ten things I know for sure about leadership. My manifesto:
- You can’t change unless you know what the issue is.
- You must be open to feedback—from anyone.
- You need to understand how to use their intuition, emotions, connectivity as strengths. You are a whole person.
- All leaders must mentor others.
- Women leaders must find time to mentor other women leaders.
- Male leaders must find time to mentor women leaders.
- Thoughts and strategies are good. Action is better.
- Asking for what you need is not a weakness. It’s a communication tool.
- Your body language matters greatly.
- We must be life-long learners.
- Create a strong, relevant and supportive network.
- We must be our best, best, best advocate.
“Power isn’t control at all–power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” –Beth Revis
Individual and Group Leadership Coaching available in Portland and virtual. Work with me to become the best leader you can be.