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Ask the Experts: What’s Your Leadership Style?

November 16, 2010

Sarah McGillicuddyLast Thursday, Sarah McGillicuddy, the Marketing Manager at Walsh Brothers, answered your question about her favorite blogs – today, you can read about how she developed her leadership style.

What is your style of leadership at your company? How did you develop it and how has it evolved over the years?

I should begin by saying that I am still in the early stages of my career and hope to have a long and exciting road ahead of me filled with many great people who will inspire and mentor me. That being said, I would say the leadership skills I have developed thus far are a direct result of having several influential mentors in my life, which is of great importance to me.

To me, mentoring isn’t something that is exclusive to the professional realm, as a lot of my family and friends whether they realize it or not, mentor me every day. I love to listen to people talk about what makes them who they are because I know there is a lesson in every story— the struggles, triumphs, and even the mundane details— that I can learn from.

My parents have been the most important mentors to me. As lifelong public school teachers who are now entering retirement, I have gleaned so much from their stories and insightful reflections on their distinguished careers. I have learned from those who I have witnessed manage well and not so well and taken both the good and bad from those situations and applied those valuable lessons in order to develop my own basic principles of effective leadership: patience, collaboration, reciprocation, confidence, and a thick skin (something I’m still working on!). My father always encouraged me to— if confronted with a challenging situation or wished to emulate a person who I greatly admired— “Remember this now, write it down, make a mental note, because some day you will be in a position of leadership, and when you are called upon, use this experience as a guide.” This simple but salient advice has helped to mold me into the leader I am today and will shape the leader I hope to be tomorrow.

Though early in my career, I have been fortunate enough to be afforded positions of leadership and what I try to do is turn tasks into leadership opportunities. I personally am much more effective at something if I have ownership and passion for it, if I’m invested in it.

Another effective leadership technique I use is collaboration, if I need something from someone to move a goal of mine along I try to approach the situation in a collaborative way, I try to illuminate the value for both of us and then share information. A collaborative style of leadership really works well for me. I find that it’s a lot easier to lead a process, specific initiative, big or small if you can engage the people you need to work with in order to move forward.

Another critical element of leadership that has helped me is acceptance of the idea that if you want to lead you have to be comfortable with making yourself vulnerable to criticism. As a younger person you worry that people won’t take your ideas seriously, but by sharing nothing you are not instilling others with faith in your abilities. Learning and sharing with others, diminishing your fear of criticism, always trying to move forward, and utilizing a collaborative approach is how I try to effectively lead.

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