Before I even heard the term “Leadership Point of View”, mine began to form.
I am the oldest of five in an Irish family raised in Chicago, Illinois. When I was 14, three key events changed the trajectory of my life. These events taught me about myself and about the powerful influence of others—for good and for bad.
1. The first event was my father entering treatment for alcoholism. The good news is that he’s had more than 40 years of sobriety. The bad news is that until that time, I was raised by a bully. At an early age, I stepped into the role of defender. In college, I first studied to be a police officer because I cannot tolerate injustice, a lack of fairness or the abuse of power. I believe respect is earned, not demanded.
I also discovered I had made some understandable yet inaccurate assumptions about my parents. Although they were struggling to do their best, both shared the same struggles of fear and insecurity. Their responses to those feelings showed up differently: my dad used aggression and my mom simply surrendered. They were young and overwhelmed. Neither was equipped to raise five kids and deal with all that life demanded.
In fact, I thought my mom was a doormat. I assumed she was weak. I later learned her training and conditioning demanded she not argue with her husband, at least not in front of the children—a well intended, but ineffectual way to address issues. Today I know that I cannot assume to understand what prompts other peoples’ behavior. I need to ask questions and learn about others before coming to conclusions about their behavior. For that reason, you’ll find I am curious about people and what drives them. I want to know about you both personally and professionally.
2. The second event that year was my mother attending Al-Anon meetings, where she found “her voice.” She learned set boundaries and discovered her strengths. Ultimately, like Michelangelo’s description of “finding an angel in the stone and chiseling her free”, my mother did the same. She found her authentic self. At 17, I started attending meetings with her to “get what she was getting” because they somehow taught her how to deal with stress and fear. As I listened to the stories of others, I saw the impact of not listening to one’s intuition and not taking care of oneself. I also learned that people can change with self-awareness, insight and support.
3. The third event occurred just before I turned 15. My parents sent me to a psychologist named Esther because I got myself in a bit of trouble. Esther saved my life and my sanity. She revealed two truths to me that were so powerful that I continue to teach them to others. First, you can trust your instincts. Second, you are responsible for your choices, whether simple or complex, fun or boring, difficult or exciting. As a leader, I trust the power of choice, accountability and following one’s instincts. I believe in being authentic and expect others to be truthful and real. I want to know the real you–even if you have a different perspective, point of view, opinion.
Values that impact my presence, behavior and expectations
Continually reflecting and incorporating my insights shapes the way I lead others. The more self-aware I am, the more congruent and intentional I can be with others. I don’t believe in judging others or assuming to understand their perspective, world-view, motives, desires, values and/or needs. So I ask questions, remain curious and open, challenge and encourage others—all while committing to be honest, trustworthy and respectful.
To be honest means I will “tell truth” even when it may be hard to hear. I strive to tell truth respectfully without judgment or a desire to make others ‘wrong.’ I believe people are doing the best they can with what they know right now.
I respect others. I will be prompt to honor their time. I will meet and always try to exceed expectations. I will honor my commitments and when I am unable, I will tell those depending on me. Because I want to delight others and exceed expectations, I need to have a plan and do not like surprises. I can handle errors and mistakes if they are shared and owned by the other person.
I believe in great self-care. If I do not take care of my body, mind and spirit, I am not as patient, creative or insightful. Therefore, I will do what it takes to fuel myself, which includes exercise, healthful nutrition, good sleep, rest, renewal and fun.
I am a big picture person. I like to know the bottom line before diving into the details on information, plans and even stories. So a productive approach to inform me is to first provide the outcome, and then my mind can settle into hearing the data.
I care about you. I want you to be successful.
I value authenticity, honesty, congruence and connection. And because I can be intense, playfulness and curiosity are important to me.
I hope this clarifies for you what I expect from you and what you can expect from me. I consider it a privilege to work with you to accomplish great things.