A Firsthand Account of What Makes a Great Leader

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In my 18 years with Adecco, I have learned some new skills and a lot about staffing. What stands out for me, though, is the valuable opportunities that I have had to work alongside excellent coaches and leaders. These mentors have helped me to develop my “people” leadership.

We all have tasks and goals that we must accomplish each day within any organization, yet, how you treat people while in a leadership role will often be what you are remembered for. Here are four principles that help me to be the best leader I can be, and hopefully you too.

One important lesson I learned early in my career was to invest in people not only professionally, but personally also. I am proud to work with our Southeast & Puerto Rico teams each day and thankful that their families loan them to me for 8+ hours a day. I am well aware that there are times they are sacrificing personal experiences to help get the job done efficiently. I try to invest right back into them as much as I can.

One of my recruiters once asked me to leave at 4:30 p.m. as her son was in a play that evening and, if she hustled, she could get there right when it started. I told her that I was happy to see her go, but on one condition: she needed to leave at 4:00pm so she had enough time to get a seat so her son was able to see her presence in the audience.

I am also a mom, and I can’t tell you how many of my leaders have invested in my family this way at Adecco. The next day, she not only sent me pictures and videos of him performing, but took the time to tell me how valued she felt in that moment. It meant so much to her that the company was investing in her on many different levels. We give to her and she gives so much more back to us.

Good leaders are excellent communicators. Great leaders listen first. Trust me, this is not an easy skill to develop. By seeking to understand before responding, you will build trust with your colleagues because you are taking the time to pay attention to what is important to them. From this vantage point, you’ll also better learn the various personalities of your team, and better paint a picture between your perception of what is happening and the actual reality of the situation.

Recently, one of my Recruiters asked me to join a sales call. Normally, when this happens, I am on the call and working to help them move the customer along in the process, but this particular call was different. The colleague called me prior to the call and asked me to say…nothing. All she wanted from me was to listen to how she positioned our organization and provided value. She wanted me to be aware of her words and offer feedback after the call had concluded.

You see, if she had not had asked that then it would be me speaking again and I wouldn’t have listened to her and been able to offer her the feedback she so very much wanted. I appreciated her call to me to say, let me speak, and you please listen.

Transparent leadership is so important today. Things move so fast in the staffing world. When I first took on a leadership role in the company, I was not confident in delivering solid, transparent feedback. I gave the type of feedback often known as the “sandwich.” Give the colleague a compliment, then give them with the most critical thing they need to work on, and end with a compliment.

Example: “Holly you are doing a fantastic job with ABC Company. Excellent work. I need you to focus on communicating better with your colleagues to ensure we aren’t missing things when you are not in the office. But, just remember, you are excellent with ABC Company.”

This is not transparent and Holly did not hear anything explicit she really needs to focus on. It is much better to level the conversation and be transparent.

Example: “Holly, we are going to have a conversation today that might be uncomfortable. There is something that I really need you to work on. I bring this to your attention because I am invested in your career and want the very best for your growth with the organization.” Then, deliver the critical pieces Holly needs to work on. As long as you are delivering more healthy deposits into that piggybank than you are taking out – transparent feedback will be welcomed by the colleague.

Titles are to be respected, but all colleagues should be valued for their opinions. I often seek feedback from not only my leaders, but from those in my organization who don’t hold leadership titles. A lot of the great internal changes we have made in the organization in the past year come from ideas solicited from our teams who are working within a recruiter desk daily.

When you ask their opinion, they offer excellent feedback on process improvement and how to make it better. They live it every single day, why wouldn’t we solicit this advice? Most colleagues who are truly invested want to feel like they are a part of the decision making process within an organization. They want to be heard.

I continue to learn what it takes to be a people leader from great coaches and mentors. Yet, I have learned just as much from those great colleagues in my organization. Being relatable, genuine, and open are all things every colleague values. As a leader of people, we must not forget that they are the most valuable asset we have.


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