Business World asked some accomplished civic leaders in our valley for leadership insights that would help our new 30 Under 35 leaders make the most of their opportunities to make a difference in our communities. Here are some excerpts from their advice:
The Question: Drawing on your experience as a civic and business leader, what leadership advice would you give to the 2017 30 Under 35 honorees to help them reach their potential?
As a leader, try to not care about getting credit for anything. You should seek outcomes, and if possible, develop new leaders (any age!) who can champion the cause. Be yourself, show your passion and intensity, but always be respectful of others and opposing opinions.
Seek leadership in order to serve your community, not to achieve recognition. Seeing results should be satisfaction enough. Be collaborative in working with others, and never be afraid to demonstrate what you do not know. Transparency builds collaboration and trust, which produces good outcomes. Take your responsibility seriously, come prepared, work hard.
Although you should take what you do seriously, do not take yourself too seriously. You are not that good! (None of us are!)
Ron Skagen, Douglas County PUD commissioner
The greatest leaders I have had the privilege of working alongside of are those who have the ability to recognize leadership skills in others and help others reach their potential. Leaders I admire lead with humility and listen to those around them before taking action.
A great leader also leads by example and only expects of others that which they expect of themselves. A great leader is also someone who finds purpose and meaning in their work so that their passion and values are front and center in all they do.
Vanessa Gutierrez, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Learn to Listen! So many of us are in such a hurry to say what we want that we often miss key parts of a conversation. If I am not careful, I’ll be thinking of my response to a previous comment when I should be listening to the person I’m conversing with.
Most people can tell when you are not really listening, either because of your body language or because your next comment proves you weren’t paying attention. Take it from someone who has learned the hard way, and who is STILL learning; slow down and listen. You’ll be glad you did.
David Olson, CEO, Columbia Valley Community Health
Get a mentor, listen first (big ears, little mouth), be humble, be passionate, and commit to serving the community.
Ron Skagen, Douglas County PUD commissioner
First and foremost, to be a good leader you need to be a good person. Stay true to your principles. Treat people with respect. Believe in and encourage those around you. Continue to seek out opportunities to learn formally and informally. Be aware of how you’re spending your time so you can make conscious choices about how you utilize your work and play time. Ensure that your goals align with your values; establish and revisit them regularly to make sure they continue to reflect your focus and desired direction. Allow yourself the space and compassion to course correct, if needed.
Dorry Foster, Executive Director, YMCA
Congratulations! You are the future leaders that will take our community to new levels of collaboration and competition that will move us to more prosperity. My advice to you? Look for opportunities to create value in the lives of your team and your community. Work to improve your strengths and recognize your weaknesses.
Great leaders advance their natural abilities and surround themselves with people whose natural talents fill the gaps left by their shortcomings. Provide your team with the necessary tools for success and mastery, clear vision and goals, structure for accountability and transparency, and get out of their way! Learn to delegate and elevate to develop leaders on your team to be better than you.
Lead with confidence. Lead with humility. Share and celebrate your successes with your team; shoulder the burden of failure for your team. Remember people are not motivated by carrots and sticks. What motivates other people is what motivates you: purpose, autonomy and mastery.
Read and encourage your team to read. There are so many lessons I could share (most of which I have learned through experience and experienced through growth), but I was asked to share a few thoughts-not a novel. Be true. Be open. Be aware. Be humble. Be intentional. The rest will follow.
Cheri Dudek, CEO and COO, Orchard Corset
Get Involved in something you are passionate about. And it could be anything. Homeowners association board, PTA, coach youth sports, running club. It could be anything. The more you are involved the more of a difference you will make. I think each of us should try and leave this place a little better than we found it.
Frank Kuntz, Wenatchee mayor
Possessing current and meaningful information on local, state and national issues by reading at a minimum two trusted sources on a daily basis has the potential of stimulating critical thinking and creativity.
It’s also important in our changing world that these young leaders become multicultural competent by (1) being aware of one’s own assumptions, values and biases and (2) understanding the worldview of culturally diverse communities. Specific character skills needed are patience, empathy, compassion and an unconditional respect and love for human dignity. Si se puede!
Wendell George, tribal elder and author, Colville Confederated Tribes
Your unique perspective and experience can create an invaluable contribution, regardless of the where and when, just by applying them as time and energy allows.
Be aware of your relationships and talents, there are unlimited opportunities to make good things happen by leveraging them just a little….and these “little’ things often end up being some of the most meaningful things you accomplish.
Pat Jones, Executive Director, Chelan County Port District
Leadership is about setting a course toward a clearly communicated vision, and then inspiring, enabling and acknowledging others as they work with you to achieve that vision. It is about doing, not just directing. It’s about setting the example of excellence and empowering others to work at that same level. Think big, help others to see it, and then foster their energy, enthusiasm and creativity around reaching that big picture end result.
Leadership isn’t about fame and fortune for you, as an individual. It is about reaching and striving for something bigger and better for your organization, the people around you, the community, whatever, and doing it in a way that inspires others to work with you, collaboratively, to create the change that achieves that something bigger and better. Be committed to the end product because it’s a positive outcome, not because you think it’s going to make you look or feel important. The label of “leader” is something that is earned through hard work, dedication and the ability to motivate others to work alongside you.
Create a vision, inspire and empower others to join you in achieving it…bottom line, communicate, collaborate and celebrate to create the synergy around making great things happen!
Lisa Parks, executive director, Douglas County Port District
The Question: Tell me about a local leader who you either admire or who has influenced you in your career. What makes him or her an excellent leader?
Former State Representative Clyde Ballard has had a huge impact on my desire to serve our community. Although our community has been blessed by many good leaders, I have known and admired, Clyde and his wife Ruth for almost 50 years I respect Clyde most by what I know about his personal life, not his public service (though that was significant!).
The message for me, in looking at effective leadership, is that your personal integrity and character, and your motivation, is more important than public recognition or even results.
At the end of the day, and the end of our lives, we will all have to look in the mirror and decide if we like what we see or what we have done with our lives. It is never too late to make a difference, or to change. And, we should always be growing and changing. But for you that are under 35, you have many years to contribute and make a difference for our community!
So, don’t be afraid, recognize life is short, keep a good balance between your personal and professional life, continually improve, and seek to be a servant-leader!
Ron Skagen, commissioner, Douglas County PUD
I have a few. Gene Sharratt is one. Always positive and has a can do attitude. Bart Clennon. Just wants to do the right thing. West Mathison. Big picture thinker and wants to make the community better. Mike and Joanne Walker. Just super people who want to make a difference.
Mayor Frank Kuntz, Wenatchee Mayor
One of the best leaders I ever worked with was prior Ephrata educator and Superintendent Larry MacGuffie. Larry would caution me that when problematic issues landed on my desk involving people, to always look at the intent.
If the person was wanting to be malicious or take advantage of a person or situation, than corrective action and possible discipline was needed. If the action was trying to right a wrong, or the use of the best available solution in a poor situation, then support your employee. These simple and basic guidelines have proven to be very helpful in building a work culture of trust, respect, and tolerance.
Garn Christensen, superintendent Eastmont School District