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: Tell us about International Ordnance Technologies.
A: We are a manufacturer of machine gun links and other military products. As an ISO 9001:2008 certified company, our goal is to be the world's No. 1 machine gun link, ammo clip, and other ammunition component manufacturer that ammunition suppliers rely upon. Our website address is www.iotusa.net.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: My education has come from extensive work experience, research, reading, and acquired knowledge from others. In addition to my high school diploma, I've also attended various courses and business classes at Jamestown Community College.
Q: I noticed you chose to include a photo of you with your employees as opposed to an individual headshot with this feature. Tell us why.
A: I would rather have a picture of our employees, company, our logo or our trademark in the article, as I feel the successes of our company have come from God, our past and current employees, business associates, dedicated customers, owners, our community and all of the people who believed in IOT.
Q: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
A: This question is difficult for me to answer, as there have been so many people who've influenced me on this business journey. I have so many memories of good and hard times, memories of people who helped me throughout my life, offering advice and working hard for the success of me and our business. I am the luckiest person in the whole world to have received these blessings. Many people have had a tremendous impact on me as a leader through the years, all being significant at each respective juncture of our business and my leadership development.
Q: Tell us about some of the most important lessons you've learned as a leader.
A: In the past, God taught me my most significant lesson: I must let go to be able to move forward. This might sound simple, but it was the most difficult for me. It's extremely hard to let go of (decisions related to growing a business) you poured your heart and soul into, not knowing its ultimate fate.
Nevertheless, I had reached a point that I knew I had exhausted all of my resources to fix the problems (associated with sustaining our business). It was time for me to let go, put the unsolved problems in God's hands and refocus on growing our business. I did just that and amazingly enough, the final solutions to our unresolved problems arrived as a phone call and knock on my door.
Having the faith and courage to let go (of having all the answers myself) allowed me to move forward and grow our business, while my faith ultimately produced the solutions for which I had endlessly searched. This taught me a very valuable lesson about believing and letting go.
Q: What advice do you have for other leaders who may be going through difficult times?
A: (It's important to understand that) no journey is without trials and tribulations. Most importantly, a leader's success is truly defined by their ability to weather the storm. (If you) lead with passion and faith, others will follow!
Q: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
A: (Anything having to do with) personnel. You can't have a successful business without good people.
Q: What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders' careers?
Q: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
A: I capitalize on opportunities to gain knowledge and learn from mistakes. I'm also consistently resourceful, always remembering losses are opportunities for improvement.
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.