Katie has impressed us as a bright, high-energy YOUNG leader contributing to her firm at a level well beyond her years. She has worked in public accounting since 2007 and her experience includes working with closely held businesses and their owners, as well as working with start-up companies to solve business issues, simplify processes and plan for the future. We asked Katie to share her leadership insights and here’s what she had to say.
ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
KS: I have been exposed to many different leadership styles. I grew up as an athlete and played at a competitive level through college. I think a lot of the leadership characteristics and attributes that have shaped me and which I admire the most are reflective of influential coaches and players in the sports arena. Although I did not play basketball, I would say the leadership style that I most admire would be that of John Wooden. I have read many of his books and they have been the most influential in my outlook on leadership, influencing others, and coaching. I would hope that the characteristics and attributes of his “coaching/leadership” is the base line for how I conduct myself.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
KS: I believe commitment is the single most important leadership characteristic. It is a two way street and you need commitment from both sides. True commitment is what I think enables individuals to meet their individual goals and the overall team goal. Whenever I view our organization, I view us as a team all working together for a common goal. And for our team to reach its goal, each individual component must be committed. One of my favorite quotes on commitment is from Vince Lombardi – “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” For me this quote is what I think the definition of commitment is.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
KS: Character and work-ethic would be two main traits that I look for in up and coming leaders. There are many things that can be learned but in my opinion these traits are difficult to teach and are part of the core values needed to be an effective leader at any level.
ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
KS: I have found that the best way to develop leadership skills in others is through constant communication and coaching. As a leader, you are always learning and adapting and young leaders need a coach that is willing to guide them through their journey and who is honest and available when needed. The other piece to this is making sure that you are leading by example.
ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
KS: Be authentic because if you are not, people see right through it. You want people to follow you because they believe in you and trust you — not because they have to.
ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
KS: Committed, adaptable, dependable.
These three characteristics are the building blocks to my leadership style and they all work together. I view commitment as making a promise to your team that you are dedicated to the overall mission and vision. Once you commit, you will not always be in control and there are always moving pieces that can alter your game plan. However, being adaptable and choosing to stay the course and take on whichever challenges and roadblocks life may bring develops character and respect. Finally, if you choose to consistently buy-in to the concepts of commitment and adaptability, I believe dependability is the by-product. While commitment and adaptability can be controlled by you, dependability is someone else’s perception as to whether or not they can trust you. Earning the trust of a team member at any level equals leadership success.
I can hear Katie’s commitment in her answers to these questions and I admire that this is a central theme to her leadership philosophy. Her commitment to coaching, mentoring and developing others is something that really comes through and is so important for a leader to be able to enroll others in their ideas and push them to their full potential. It makes a leader approachable and allows people to trust and relate to them. What can you do this week to demonstrate your commitment to your team? How can you make sure that the commitment that you feel inside shines through and is felt by others?