Bring Your Leadership to Life!

Today is the nineteenth day of the new blog series entitled Bring Your Leadership to Life! Join us throughout the month of March and beyond as we feature guest bloggers who share their perspective on how they bring their leadership to life! This blog series highlights the theme of the 2nd Annual Evening for Austin Leading Ladies, which took place last night. Over 200 amazing women leaders came together for a night of inspiration, networking, and learning. 

Jennifer Foery, SPHR is the manager of Human Resources for Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, Inc. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Centre College in Danville, KY, and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the HR Certification Institute.  Her 15+ year career in the Human Resources field has provided insight into the manufacturing, video game, and electric utility industries and supplied her with more humorous stories than she can count.  Ms. Foery provides leadership and guidance in the areas of employee relations, benefits, culture, and safety and her participation on numerous committees and project teams in the organization contributes to the strategic direction of the organization. She currently resides outside of Austin, TX with her husband Chris, kids Max and Ella and dog Luke.  She can be contacted at Jennifer.foery@bluebonnet.coop.

I am the poster child for “just do it”.

Not the Nike “just do it” but more like the Little Red Hen “just do it”.  As in, I’ll do it myself.  You know the story; the Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat and she asks the farm animals if they will help her make it into bread. They all decline so she says she will do it herself. At the end, the Little Red Hen has a beautiful loaf of bread and she asks who will help her eat it.  Of course, the other animals are eager to help her with this task, though she tells them she will do this by herself.

And though it never said so in the book, I’m sure by the end of it the Little Red Hen was exhausted and steaming because no one wanted to help her.  Her bread probably didn’t even taste that good because she was too tired and mad to enjoy it.  Not that I’VE ever done THAT…..

Dwight D Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. “

Like the Little Red Hen, I’ve learned you can be very efficient when you do things yourself, but you don’t really show good leadership.  When I find my feathers getting a little ruffled I remember these things:

Make friends before progress and build trust. Take the time to chat with people. Show them you are interested in more than making dough – you are interested in THEM.  Find out what motivates them, and find out how you can help them be successful.  Be present with them and start to build trust so the next time you are hard at work at the mill, they will know you aren’t just putting on airs – you really want and need them to be a part of the process.

Give them something to believe in. Bread is just bread.  But if you can bake bread that is whole grain, organic, fair trade and a portion of the profits goes back into the upkeep of the barnyard, you have given the people you are leading something bigger to latch on to. Plus, you trust you built with them has them believing in YOU.

Be transparent. You can’t lead and expect to know everything there is to know about everything.  You might know how to mill the flour, make the flour into dough and how to make the dough into bread.  But someone had to know how to plant the wheat in the first place.  Being transparent also means not being right about everything – because you aren’t. When you are wrong, admit it.  When you don’t know how to do something, let someone show you.

Lastly, be sure to share your appreciation for those who you are leading.

Just as bread is made of more than wheat, leadership is more than these four ingredients. They are, however, an important part of the recipe.

Stay tuned in the days to come as the Bring Your Leadership to Life Series continues….

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