By Jacqueline Carter, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager, Washington University -- Olin Business School, and AACRAO Board of Directors President-Elect
I firmly believe that everyone is a leader, whether formally as represented in your role or informal. If you are in the role you have a responsibility to your direct report and those that are looking towards you. I realize a leader has many responsibilities in balancing the needs of the organization, boards of trustees, executive team, employees, and customers. A good leader has many qualities. Accountable, supportive, transparent, empathetic, consistent, and trust to name a few. It is my belief great leadership is tied to the people of the organization.
What makes a great leader?
There should be a genuine interest in the person and their ability to be authentic rather than personal interest.
Should understand their privilege and know when and how to exercise it to benefit others
One of your primary responsibilities is to your people. One should strive to be a great people leader through relationship building. Leaders must gain the trust of their people. Trust isn’t bestowed on you because of your title or position; it must be earned.
How do leaders gain trust?
Create positive relationships
Demonstrate Good Judgement
Respect all individuals
Ethics (Model the values written)
Integrity (Accountable for all actions)
As a leader, the growth of your people is imperative to the mission of the organization. You should serve as a guide to pathways to possibilities by providing equitable opportunities for professional growth whether it is gaining new knowledge, enhancing skills, or empowering them to advance. You should be using your privilege in one or more of these ways:
Investing in them is a positive ROI for all.
Your leadership is less about you in your role and more about your actions. How are you contributing to others? Are you lifting others while you climb? If you're not creating opportunities for other people, then your leadership is only self-serving. While I’m not saying a lack of genuine qualification shouldn’t be overlooked, I am saying leave the door open where you enter. After all, you didn’t get where you are by happenstance.
Your leadership should be used to help others through mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship rather than gatekeeping. As a mentor, you can serve as a guide to assist in navigating space or decisions. You can also assist in skill development and provide feedback as a coach would. Equally as important utilize your privilege and influence to advocate for others.
I once read positions are temporary, ranks and titles are limited but the way you treat people is permanent. Strive to be the leader you always wanted!