I was flattered this week to be asked, as a local female leader, to speak at the Women’s Development meeting for my company. The topic was, aptly, development and the talk I gave was well received – and fun to give. I thought I would share it with you, Reader-Friends – I hope you find something interesting here.
The wording of the invite to today’s event [Where do you want to be in 3 years? 5? 10?] got me thinking…but in reverse. Where I was I three years ago? Five? Ten? What do I think played significantly into my “development” to be where I am today. For those of you who don’t know me that is the Director of Show Site Operations for FAV ROC, a mom, a runner, a wife a church goer and a few other things here and there. At work, I oversee five departments whose work happens in show prep and on show site, as opposed to in the office or warehouse and our work takes us from Denver to the Pacific Ocean.
So where do you start? What is development? I feel like development is the process of getting ready. The trick is you don’t really know what you are getting ready for. You just want to BE ready. Opportunities show up – like FWD, like CES, like our Heart Association activities, like promotions. Be ready. How did I get ready? What made me feel prepared to take on four distinct roles in 8 years with Freeman? Or even presume to stand here speaking to 60 people about something I have never spoken about before? In what I imagine as a lens zooming out, here are some things that I believe are key to my continuing development.
First, is attitude. This is completely under your control. You decide how you respond to challenges and people every day at every turn. And as a colleague of mine would say over and over, perception is reality. Cultivate your values and attitude and find out how you are being perceived. Make sure those things line up how you want them to.
Ok, so you have figured out how you want to be perceived and are working towards that. Next, figure out what you impact from where you sit. A great way to do your job well is to understand the system in which you fit. And it is a good way to get ahead. Something I have found valuable in all the organizations where I have works is learning what happens in all the departments and making some contacts scattered throughout. I love solving problems across divisions and when I have the chance I ask the folks with whom I come into accidental contact the hows and whys of their job. They remember me – I increase my value to my division – and I have resources when I need to get things done. Win. Win. Win. Learn about the systems you are part of.
And systems don’t start and stop here at Freeman. I find the best employees to be the most well rounded – outside and inside the office. Everyone should have interests outside of work – and if you are looking to develop your leadership skills or your speaking skills or your planning skills find ways to do this in your community groups as well. There are opportunities at church, as the coach for little league or in any charity that sparks your passion. This is an engaging way to get ready with immediate rewards since, let’s face it – we don’t get too many hours away from work. Find something you really enjoy.
So here you are – you have cultivated your attitude, you are figuring out how Freeman works and you are, say, running for local office…do you see how we are zooming out? From you to Freeman to the community. Now the world. What? Well, I have found that smart business people – the people I want to emulate and follow – know what is going on in the world. From a business perspective, when you are paying attention to a wide array of messages and issues it means you can talk to just about any client about things relevant to them or their field of work. From a personal perspective this keeps you well rounded and for me helped me think about a variety of issues from a variety of perspectives. This is always appreciated by people you are interacting with. Just ask your significant other.
Here you are – all zoomed out – you have honed you “personal brand,” new employees seek you out to learn about Freeman, you have hobbies that keep you active and engaged and you have solved the crisis in Syria. It is a vision. But what gets you of bed in the morning? These are all important elements to being a well-developed adult. None of it gets you out of bed.
Let me circle back to my own story here – I came into this company as a Production Manager. I love live events – I love the truck pulling up to the dock. I love wearing my steel toe boots and being on the floor for 15 hours. I love watching an empty ballroom become a show. You can see why I am in the AV division. These were the things that got me up in the morning. I am also an achievement junkie and found myself on that path you are supposed to take…go to a good college, get a good internship, get a nice job, get a promotion. So when my boss came to me with a promotion opportunity I jumped at it. And then after I got it, I thought: What am I doing? Where are my shows? Did I take this management role because it is the next step or “promotion” with no other reason? Friends, ask yourself these questions BEFORE you change jobs! Soon after I took this new role I was able to help someone create a way to work with a family emergency. And I saw in a blinding moment of clarity what bosses impact in the life of an employee and that my role is making the best work life possible for my team. That. That is what gets me out of bed. No one but me could have decided that this was the underlying meaning to my work. Not every manager will find this to be the meaning in their work. What provides meaning in your work, just like the attitude you cultivate, will be yours alone since we all arrive where we are with different skills and values.
Developing yourself is a piece by piece, step by step journey that takes seeing your own specific attributes clearly; understanding your impact here and how things around you work; growing your own interests; seeing what is happening in the world and then applying all of that, with an understanding of why you do what you do, to your everyday life. People will notice this and you will grow, learn and develop every day. I hope you will be as fortunate as I have been and enjoy that journey – it is time well spent. Thank you.