Leaving my old institution for a role at a new institution got me thinking about different ways I can get to know my colleagues. It got me thinking about what I need to do to start fresh in an exciting new environment. Thinking made me reflect back on the advice some of my previous mentors and managers have shared since my early days in higher education. Three individuals who have had a huge impact on my professional development shared ‘ words of wisdom ’ that stand out in my mind:
Never start a sentence without knowing how it’s going to finish.
My first manager was a dynamic and charismatic individual with bold ideas and the passion to see things through to fruition. His greatest talent was his ability to captivate a room full of people, regardless of age or stature. I marveled at his talent for speaking on what seemed to be any topic at any time. Though my time with him was well over ten years ago, he taught me something I follow to this day: never start a sentence without knowing how it’s going to finish.
In other words, take the time to carefully think (on the spot sometimes!) of the words you are using (which are necessary and which are not) and the point you are trying to make. This is certainly no easy task, but after years of practice, I’ve learned it is possible to train your brain to think in this manner. It is possible to do in any conversation or presentation.
Every individual has an important role to play in the success of an organization.
The second manager remains a personal and professional inspiration. I often witnessed her ability to juggle and manage multiple projects, read a room, and develop rapport with a diverse range of people, regardless of their position or authority. I learned many things from her, but the most important thing I learned was to value my colleagues at every level. Through her actions from day one, I saw the incredible value of making the effort to get to know those around her. She showcased that not knowing people’s names, their role, or how they contribute to the overarching goals of an organization is like trying to put together a puzzle and not having all the pieces.
Recruit hunger, everything else is trainable.
A more recent manager who I admired for his confidence in difficult or confronting situations, his loyalty to his team, and his ability and willingness to address complex matters (which most other managers chose to avoid or ignore) shared the final piece of advice. On many occasions, he shared with me one key piece of advice which he believed was critical for recruitment and the success of an organization–hiring hunger. In other words, look for those individuals who demonstrate and exude passion and excitement rather than those who appear too polished (saying all the right things at the right time), apathetic, or unenthusiastic about the opportunity you are presenting.
Without naming names, you know who you are. I sincerely thank you for the words of wisdom and the role you have played in getting me to this next exciting phase in my career.
I know I’m not the only person to value the words of wisdom, knowledge, and support of a current or former manager. What advice would you add to the list?