LEADERSHIP IS ALL AROUND US
In my roles at PUMA North America I have the honor of acting as a leader in various situations. As a result of this experience, I’ve also have ample opportunity to observe and be influenced by great leaders at work. I’ve learned over the years that in order to be effective leaders we must first be disciplined.
Then we always need to be willing to expand and grow. After that we must be cognizant of other people’s needs and abilities. In my work at PUMA I’ve seen almost everyone have an opportunity to lead in one way or another. And so, it’s clear that one need not have "leader" in their title or job description in order to set a good example or embody the ideas of good leadership. I am happy as well to report that today there are more and more women filling leadership roles. This is becoming more the norm and I’m proud to be a part of that movement.
Here I’ve outlined some of the exceptional ways I’ve seen leadership manifested and carried out. Give some thought to whether you can apply these in your own work.
inspire your team
As a public speaker leadership means being aware of your audience’s mood and energy. If you lose them you are wasting your breath. If you don’t meet their needs, you have been ineffective. The ability to assess the group is imperative. Additionally, leadership in this case, means being fully prepared in terms of knowledge and content.
When I present I must be able to quickly assess a group made up of anywhere from 20-100 people. I am super careful to prepare so that I don’t misspeak or give wrong statistics.
Under these circumstances leadership also manifests itself in the passion and desire you display when helping people to develop. Your audience always knows whether you are sincere or not. They can tell if you enjoy what you do. Your passion or lack thereof is contagious. When you communicate your love for your work, people are very open to learning from you. As a result, you become even more effective.
be a helper
As a project manager, leadership means clearly communicating and supporting your people. When they have what they need they can run with the project and you can celebrate their success without micromanaging.
I learned this lesson while leading PUMA Values, an internal organization of volunteers whose purpose is to maintain a standard of high morale in the Westford office. We plan and host various events to recognize the office employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. This requires that I keep the volunteers engaged and then endow them with my trust to achieve our goals.
EMPOWER COLLABORATION AND CONFIDENCE
As a mentor, leadership comes in a variety of forms. When mentoring a team, for example, leadership becomes clear in the consideration and accounting for differences on the team. Part of my job at PUMA University for Retail Leaders, a program designed to recognize and further develop our Retail team members, requires me to mentor two teams through a Global Project Assignment. Leadership here looks like being a master coordinator- considering time barriers, language barriers and cultural differences on the team.
When mentoring individuals, we can show leadership with encouragement, keen questions and good listening. I can think of a conversation I had with a person who had been promoted and felt out of her league. But when I asked her about what made her qualified for her job, she was able to list the things she had accomplished in the past and as a result was able to gain confidence and pride, then recalling exactly why she had been placed in her leadership role.
In the typical office environment, leadership opportunities sometimes appear in casual conversations. Colleagues often appear in my doorway and just want to discuss the issues they are dealing with. Here I mostly listen and let people create their own solutions as they explain their struggle. This often happens with emails or written letters when someone just needs help editing for tone. Leadership in this case happens when we listen without judgment.
There are countless women who have shown leadership to me personally. I’ll share just a few examples here: working with energy and displaying an ability to motivate. Making a point of doing everything to the very best of your ability every time. These lessons came from the woman who is now my direct boss. The biggest lesson she taught me:
The importance of stamina. You must have stamina to achieve your goals. You cannot get tired because then your people will get tired too.
Another colleague, who I admire, displays the ability to be both understanding and firm with her expectations at the same time. The Head of eCommerce for PUMA North America has the brilliant ability to always say the exact right thing to whomever she is speaking. Once on a site visit I saw her speak to each person who works on her team, highlighting at least one specific task that each person completed. You could see the validation and appreciation on their faces. These women inspire me every day.
I hope these examples show that we all have opportunities to act as leaders no matter our official role. Please feel free to share interesting stories of ways that you’ve seen leadership manifested in your own work environment.