Each month, my weekly business column features a respected leader in our region who has been in their career long enough to have learned a lesson or two worth sharing. The name of this monthly feature is, Leadership Reflections.
You will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the featured leader's leadership journey that led them to their current role. Most importantly, you will gain valuable insight from helpful "real life" lessons they've learned along the way. It is my hope that these life lessons will help to inspire a spirit of continued personal leadership development for everyone who reads it. Enjoy.
Q: Can you tell us about Jamestown Pediatric Associates?
A: We are a private pediatric medical practice providing comprehensive care for newborn infants, babies, toddlers, children, adolescents and young adults. Our website address is www.jamestownpediatrics.com.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I received my doctor of medicine from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, and graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University where I earned my bachelor's in neuroscience.
Q: What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?
A: I believe there are two characteristics every leader should possess: self-discipline and superior communication skills. Self-discipline is a key to leadership and success in the world. How can you lead others if you haven't figured out how to manage yourself? A strong ethic goes hand in hand with self-discipline. Just because an individual has reached a leadership position doesn't mean the hard work is over. It's at this time they should work harder than ever.
The art of communication is the language of leadership. If a leader cannot convey a message clearly and motivate others, then there is no point in having a message. Communication starts in the hearing, not in the talking. We are so often involved in thinking about what we are going to say that we don't truly listen to what is being told to us. A great leader who possesses excellent communication skills is first, a careful listener and then second, a keen speaker.
Q: When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine who to hire?
A: I would choose to hire whom I feel would be more ambitious and willing to take a risk to do something they've never done before. This is the type of person that would not only accept, but look forward to challenges. This is who will help an organization grow and thrive.
Q: What is the one behavior or trait that you've seen derail more leaders' careers?
A: Dishonesty is, without a doubt, the trait that I believe can lead to the downfall of many leaders' careers. From powerful world leaders to small business owners and everything in between, once a lack of trust has been established, there is no longer any respect. A dishonest leader will not be respected. Sooner or later dishonesty shall lead to their demise.
Q: What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
A: I would recommend moving forward with an open mind, a lot of enthusiasm, and a smile on their face. Optimism is always more productive than pessimism. Make sure you have a mentor to fall back on for a second opinion. Stay confident but always be adaptable and open to new ideas. Remember that change is good. It may be a little scary at times, but for progress to occur there must be change. And finally, if some days you feel like you have taken on a bit more than you expected, just keep smiling. It's amazing how much better it will make you feel than frowning.
Q: What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
A: One mistake leaders make is failing to define goals. Without clear goals, workers cannot be productive because it's unclear to them what exactly they're working for. In the workplace, just as in life, goal setting is critical to success. Short term goals as well as long term goals need to be clearly defined for individual success, which will ultimately lead to organizational success.
Elizabeth P. Cipolla is a regional director and senior consultant with JL Nick and Associates Inc. She is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for nearly 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JL Nick and Associates' website at www.jlnick.com.