Channel

Becoming a Leader Before Having the Title

Becoming a Leader Before Having the Title
By Patricia Logsdon, Channel Sales Engineer, Siemens and 2021 tED magazine “30 Under 35” Award winner

Being a leader before having the title has been an interesting path I’ve been on. The Leadership Development Class at NAED has been pivotal in helping me recognize how others view me, how to approach difficult situations, and how to inspire others to do their best work. Shocker!!! It’s not rocket science, but it does take practice.

Getting Signed Up

I was recently recognized as a tED magazine “30 under 35” Award winner alongside 2 other amazing women at Siemens. NAED sent an email offering the recipients a discounted admission to the class. Knowing that Siemens has never sent anyone in the past, I jumped at the chance for the opportunity. They granted me the permission. With being the first to attend this course, I report our sessions with upper management to see how the course is progressing. It feels special having management take such an interest in the growth of my career as well as a leader.

Self-Tests

The course started off with everyone taking a 360 review. It takes you through a bunch of questions and gives you key information based on your personality traits and how to understand other personalities. When I received my results, I read everything negatively, but being open is vital to personal growth. The test is not to tell you what you are bad at, but helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses. I was able to understand this when a representative walked me through the results. I now have a tool to utilize throughout the rest of my career to improve upon myself.

Self-Assessment and Peer Review

The worst part of this whole processes is the mind game of the self-assessment. When taking it you ask yourself, “Who is going to see this?” and “What will they think if I answer like this…?”. Other things that run through your head are, “I SUCK AT THIS” and “I AM AMAZING AT THAT”. Don’t let those thoughts affect your answers!!! Take the self-assessment when you have the right head space. Don’t take it right after something that could have just inflated or deflated your ego.

The next mind game is reading the peer reviews and seeing the comparison of how you score yourself compared to colleagues. Reading through the answers your manager, customer, and peers submitted could start to change your self-perceptions. This could be that you scored yourself low and others scored you high in the same topic, but it’s sometimes hard to understand how they come to their perspective of you. It’s worse when it’s the opposite though. Take everything as a chance to improve, since this is the goal!

First Meeting

Our first class meeting was virtual. We immediately found commonalities about the 360 and self-review tests. We also discussed what we were all thinking about doing for our YEAR LONG PROJECT. Come to this class ready to WORK! Most everyone taking the class already has a role with direct reports. I was one of the few that entered this class as an individual contributor with lofty goals. Thinking this was a disadvantage, I was amazed to find others challenging me to think differently. This class reminded me that being a leader has nothing to do with your position; they come in all shapes and titles.

In Person

The 3 days in St Louis created a tight knit group. We got personal, challenged each other, experienced personal growth, and learned so much! Their teaching methods are a bit unorthodox; It’s just something you must experience to understand. Everything you learn takes practice. Muscle memory is crucial. During the whole process you start creating bonds with your fellow classmates and share your experiences. By the end of the 3 days, we had given each other nicknames and maybe even a couple of piggyback rides.

One on Ones

After some time had passed and we had a chance to get our projects started, we had a one-on-one call with our instructor. They helped us find solutions to any issues we encounter with our projects and acted as a sounding board.

Trying to juggle your current role and a project isn’t always easy. Peer calls are put in place to help you through the process. We were all assigned a partner to work with and they help you stay on track for your project.

My Project

I realized that my project was going to require collaboration across several different groups. I was able to engage a couple of different managers and they offered some of their resources for which I was extremely grateful. The colleagues that helped were excited for the ability to work on a project that gave them that cross functional experience that they may not have gotten otherwise.

It was in the middle of working on my project when it hit me. I was leading a group of individuals on a project where not even one of them reported to me. In fact, some were managers themselves. The statements in the beginning on our first call resonated with me, “Being a leader has nothing to do with your title. Anyone can be a leader.”

Lead Conference

Seeing everyone again was great! We naturally fell into the banter that we had when we left St Louis. Everyone was ready and excited to know where we were all at and help one another with anything that was asked. We had one day with just our group and then most everyone went to LEAD Conference. I attended the Women In Industry conference instead. This year they ended up being at the same time and I’m on the committee.

Time Left

We still have a couple of virtual sessions and one on ones with our instructors and peers. I’m excited to see what these sessions will bring us. Knowing that we don’t want to become stagnant with our own personal and professional growth, we have set up monthly sessions to keep our group on track. I entered the class as an individual and left with a supportive group of peers from across the country.

The spring session of NAED’s Leadership Development Program is forming right now. If you are an emerging leader, or if you want to enroll an emerging leader, you can get the information you need at www.naed.org/leadership

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