After 34 years of law enforcement service with the FBI and being a student of leadership, I learned the importance of elevating people for success. Throughout my FBI career serving in executive-level roles, the ground was fertile for learning how to promote employees to another level. It was gratifying to provide tools to elevate them to their genius. Fortunately, my leadership journey started before I entered on duty with the FBI. I have been accustomed to being exposed to women leaders since I was a little girl, and years later, I eventually began my leadership journey. In my 2.0, I lead in nonprofit and professional organizations and continue learning leadership nuances. One of my favorite quotes on leadership is from Dr. Cornel West. He says, “you can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” As part of my leadership study, I have become apparent of the investment of people and the benefit of how elevating people elevates me to be successful. Let me share some insight on women in executive leadership positions and how elevating your people will build a solid foundation for success.
#1- Help Employees Understand the WHY.
Emphasizing the mission helps solidify the WHY. When I joined the FBI, I knew the FBI fought the bad guys but the FBI’s overall mission, it’s WHY, was not initially clear to me. I knew that I wanted to become a Special Agent with the FBI to protect people and make an impact on my community, but its overall mission was not apparent. As I matured in my various positions within the FBI, the WHY became clearer. Employees who understand the WHY become more
intentional about getting the job done.
#2 - Surround yourself with SMEs
There is no shame in not being an expert on a topic. Surround yourself with SMEs (subject matter experts) that know topics you do not have. When I served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in New Haven, Connecticut, I
oversaw the National Security, Criminal and Administrative Branches. I did not know everything. But I tell you one thing; I knew enough to surround myself with the people that had the expertise I did not have. Surrounding yourself with SMEs is intelligent and courageous, making perfect sense.
#3 - Invest in Your Employees
When people are hired, they expect their leader to motivate and inspire. People are motivated and inspired differently, and it is the responsibility of a leader to learn what motivates the people they oversee. I was fortunate to have been able to motivate myself, but that is not always the case with everyone. Motivating and inspiring is a part of being a leader, and as a leader, you must invest time and tools.
#4 - Support Employee Professional Goals
In getting to know the people you lead; you must recognize that people have different professional goals. Employees join organizations for various reasons, and you must understand that the reasons will not be the same. Set aside that judgmental mindset and be open to the diversity of goals people have set for themselves. Your responsibility as a leader is to support employees in their quest to reach their professional goals.
Remember, if you elevate your people, you and the people you serve will elevate to success.