Plansmith Blog

Learning to Lead: 5 Things a Leader Must Learn

Posted by Sue West on 12/28/16 7:56 AM

From my very first job at 15, I knew I had management potential. I was always able to coordinate a variety of projects at once. I often compare myself to a circus act. You know, the one that keeps the plates spinning on sticks at one time? Now known as "multitasking."

I studied marketing and business management, and at every stage of my life I've held management positions. The reason I make this distinction is because until three years ago, when I became president at Plansmith, I had no real idea what it meant to lead. And it’s been truly eye-opening.

I thought leadership meant efficiencies and problem solving. Never afraid of hard work, I welcomed challenges. Situation, solution, situation, solution. Very clear and measurable.  But this certainly was not.

This new position requires me to understand the people I work with. Not what they do, but how they feel about what they do. Wow, feelings… I wasn’t prepared for that!

Plansmith employees take great pride in their customer base and sincerely care about the clients' success. It’s now my turn to take the same care with them and show that their success is Plansmith’s success.

Here are five things I've learned during my transition from manager to leader that particularly stand out.

5 Things A Leader Must Learn:

  1. To actively listen
  2. To not over-react
  3. To ask others for help
  4. To view situations from multiple perspectives
  5. That patience is key to implementing change

So, as I head into my third year in this position, I've learned to appreciate what leadership means, and that it’s not necessarily instinctive. Like all new skills, leadership needs to be learned and practiced.

And lucky for me, I have a great leader to learn from.


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